On June 29 and 30, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) held a summit to address the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in 21st century science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) organizations. The summit took place over the course of two days with discussions revolving around how systemic racism affects individuals of underrepresented racial and ethnic group in STEMM careers and how to implement strategies and policies that will advance diversity in STEMM environments and organizations.
The first day included discussions on the systemic and structural nature of racism and bias, diving into the historical context for racism in the U.S., the importance of diversity, and institutional practices/patterns of behavior. Victor Dzau of the National Academy of
Medicine (NAM) began by stating, “We need to develop and implement the best practices drawing from research and partnering with fields such as social psychology, industrial organizational psychology, business, and human resources.” This led to a discussion on how changing the rhetoric on these issues is a start, but it will take institutions truly committing themselves to change for real progress to be made. The general consensus of the panelists was that it is crucial to understand the U.S.’s past of racism and inequality to set us on a path forward within STEMM to ensure history does not repeat itself.
The second day focused on how we can move the system forward by exploring the importance of diversity, efforts of the National Academies to date, and other approaches institutions have taken along with the limitations of those approaches. Panelists began by discussing that to optimize some of our nation’s best resources, it is necessary to create environments where all scientists are treated fairly and inclusively. With this, Eliseo J. Pérez Stable of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted that to properly implement this kind of equity, one must think about structure and power. All speakers agreed that real change will take a multitude of people and ideas working together to not just discuss but to take real action.
More information is available on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) website.
This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Lillian Chmielewska of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.