Advancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is a priority nationally, for the State of California, and at UC Davis. A strong STEM workforce will drive innovation, economic growth, and generate novel solutions to pressing national and international problems.
Efforts at the national, state and local levels aim to broaden participation in STEM education and employment and improve the career development of all STEM scholars.
For decades, innovators and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to San Diego and from Hollywood to the Central Valley have fueled California’s dynamic growth and established our state as a global hub for innovation. To maintain the state’s position as a leading innovation-driven economy in the 21st century, California has launched multiple programs aimed at promoting STEM education and developing the STEM labor force.
Research has shown that adverse educational and workplace climate, specifically in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, is a barrier to attracting and retaining diverse populations in those fields. Perspectives on the climate in STEM fields and tools to improve the climate for women and underrepresented minorities are listed here.
Diversity is an important concern for all institutions of higher education, not only because it marks institutional progress toward parity, but because it impacts efficiency and innovation. Research on mechanisms that underlie the synergistic relationship between diversity and innovation indicates that although diversity places new and increased demands on intergroup communication, the benefits are so significant that “organizations, firms, and universities … should seek out people with diverse experiences, training, and identities.”
When hiring faculty, it’s important to remember that diversity and excellence go hand-in-hand. The UC Davis ADVANCE program seeks to facilitate the adoption of the best-practices for conducting fair, equitable, and successful search faculty searches by collecting and disseminating best-practice information and resources.
The National Science Foundation began supporting ADVANCE initiatives in 2001, and has awarded over $130M in funding for a variety of programs. The most significant efforts seek to create permanent institutional transformation.
Professional disciplinary groups allow members to meet, engage, and share knowledge. This effort is particularly important to foster supportive, collaborative networks among scientists from under-represented groups.
We have compiled multiple publicly available databases of the published research related to NSF ADVANCE program efforts to increase diversity in STEM education and the STEM labor force. These include the literature on implicit bias, mentorship and other topics.
Balance is real challenge facing many faculty, particularly women with children. The perception (and reality) of the inflexibility and rigor of an academic career is one cause for the lack of diversity in STEM disciplines.