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Addressing barriers for women is crucial to STEMM success

April 09, 2020

A report released earlier this month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, addresses the barrier of inequality that women, despite making up more than 50 percent of the population, experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). Further, women of color are severely underrepresented in every STEMM discipline. The report focuses on promoting systemic change in the STEMM enterprise in order to mitigate structural inequities, biases, discrimination, and harassment faced by many women, which consequently discourages education and careers in STEMM.

The report indicates four broad categories of recommendations for improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in in these fields: driving transparency and accountability; adopting data-driven approaches to address underrepresentation of women in STEMM; rewarding, recognizing, and resourcing equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts; and filling knowledge gaps. The report emphasizes that the interconnectedness of these recommendations underlies their strength.

Within those four broad categories, the report makes more specific recommendations and implementation actions including encouraging federal agencies to hold grantee institutions accountable for adopting effective practices to address gender disparities, carrying out regular data collection to monitor progress as well as asking leaders in academia and scientific societies to put policies and practices in place to prioritize, reward, recognize, and resource equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts appropriately. The report emphasizes that the public community has significant power, and thus, should act as a catalyst for encouraging innovation and action.

women, stem