NSPN and Union of Concerned Scientists Host Discussion on Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM

On November 29, 2021, NSPN members were joined by the leaders of 4 scientific societies to discuss recent efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organizations. The event, co-hosted by NSPN’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), drew close to 100 attendees who engaged in conversation about expanding DEI in science, technology, education, math, and medicine (STEMM).

Esteemed guests were Dr. Makyba Charles-Ayinde, Director of Science Policy at the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR); Michael Moloney, Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Physics (AIP); Billy Williams, Senior Vice President for Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion at the American Geophysical Union (AGU); and Dr. Crispin Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

The event began with introductions from host organizations and a statement of intention from Melissa Varga, Community and Partnerships Manager for the UCS Science Network, that the discussion would be “an important step toward continued learning, transparency, and humility that we desperately need in the scientific community.” Prior to the question and answer session, each guest provided an overview of how their respective societies have incorporated DEI priorities into their work. Consistent between all statements was the assertion that creating welcoming communities where everyone can safely be their authentic selves is critical for the shared vision of advancing scientific discoveries and social justice.

During the Q&A, guests were asked questions such as, “how does your organization decide where DEI efforts should be going,” as well as, “what methods of accountability are integrated into your DEI efforts,” and, “how do you nurture safe space environments within your organizations?” While guests shared their insights, audience members showed their support in the Zoom chat with affirmations and links for further reading. Some recommended action items and guiding principles including: commit to the next generation of leaders through mentorship, teach scientists how to work with communities on co-developing solutions to social problems, frequently survey memberships to gauge their needs, build partnerships and collaborations, openly share best practices and learnings, and be prepared to engage in a long-term effort if true transformation is the goal.

Annabelle Lolinco, Chair of NSPN’s DEI Committee, shared her excitement about the event. “I am thrilled to see this dedicated interest in pushing for change from the scientific community, and grateful for these leaders' conversation with our networks,” said Lolinco. “I know that this is only the beginning. The DEI Committee is ready to continue working internally and with collaborators to make change in STEMM spaces to be safe, inclusive and accessible for all peoples."

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Watch the recording of this event on NSPN’s YouTube channel.

To learn more about NSPN’s DEI Committee, join their page on NSPN’s website. To keep up with UCS and the UCS Science Network, follow them on Twitter: @UCSUSA and @SciNetUCS.

To keep up with AADOCR, AIP, AGU, and ASPB, follow them on Twitter: @AADOCR, @AIP_HQ, @theAGU, and @ASPB.

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