Last week, the White House convened a summit on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) Equity and Excellence to signal the importance of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to achieve scientific excellence—elevating its importance as an economic driver for the country.
The initiative was led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), along with over 90 partners across the scientific enterprise, including government, academia, philanthropy, industry, and community organizations.
The OSTP unveiled a historic slate of actions both from government and from philanthropy, industry, education, research, and community organizations totaling more than $1.2 billion in work, investments, and opportunities in STEMM.
“An equitable science isn’t a luxury, but a necessity if we want to live in a country that is just and that can compete globally in the 21st century,” said Sam Gill, president and CEO of the DDCF. “The breadth of partners and depth of commitments in today’s event signal a historic opportunity to work across sectors and fields to make equity in science a reality.”
The summit set the stage for the launch of the STEMM Opportunity Alliance (SOA), a national effort by AAAS with the support of the DDCF that will galvanize stakeholders to achieve STEMM equity and excellence by 2050. This effort will bring together organizations and entities from across sectors and scientific communities that are committed to developing and advancing a national strategy for achieving shared goals for equity in STEMM.
In their press release, the White House stated: The American STEMM ecosystem shuts out and diverts away too many talented individuals, closing off opportunities for discovery and innovation, and limiting our national potential. People of color, rural communities, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people have long navigated the STEMM fields at a structural disadvantage. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to eliminating systemic barriers to participation in STEMM and ensuring that all of the American public can contribute to and benefit from science, technology, and innovation.
“Our Nation depends on a diverse, skilled STEM workforce that is ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century, from growing U.S. leadership in space exploration to tackling the climate crisis,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “That is why our Administration is committed to empowering and training the next generation of innovators and removing the barriers to these talented individuals achieving their full potential. By bringing together government, civil society, and the private sector, we can prepare our nation’s STEM workforce and create educational and economic opportunity for generations to come.”
The national vision centers on five action areas for coordinated multisector action.
First, to ensure every person has the opportunity to participate in and contribute to science and technology throughout their lifetime. Second, to invest in the vital STEMM teacher pipeline. Third, to bring greater parity to investment in the communities, institutions, and people that have been historically excluded from access to STEMM resources. Fourth, to acknowledge and address the fact that the culture of science has too long tolerated outright, abject bias, and discrimination—and dismantle it. Equity continues to be too widely regarded as a luxury across academic institutions, companies, and others teaching and applying science, in part because it has been difficult to measure. And fifth, to close the STEMM information gap by generating better and more comprehensive data, developing shared indicators and committing to greater transparency so we can hold science—and society—accountable.
“Achieving STEMM excellence and equity means supporting a strong and diverse teacher pipeline. If we want to add more bright, talented people into the science and technology fields—if we want educators to be able to do what they do best—we have to give them the support and respect they deserve,” said First Lady Jill Biden. “The White House Summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence is advancing important efforts to strengthen the pathway for people of color to become STEMM educators and ensure all educators have access to the resources needed to keep doing this incredible job for years and years to come.”
These new actions, the press release stated, will serve to ensure that this historic momentum in science and technology translates into equitable results for all communities, regardless of race, zip code, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, region, or disability. These actions will help to ensure that as President Biden has said, “We can channel the full talents of all our people into a greater measure of hope and opportunity for our nation and for the world.”
More information can be found at STEMMopportunity.org.