In western cultures, our narratives about science often focus on the singular, “brilliant” scientist who makes substantial contributions through their innate genius—e.g., Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. However, “scientific talent” is not innate. It is cultivated through many hours of training and effort. Moreover, teams, not individuals, conduct most scientific research. Thus, the narrative of the brilliant, individual scientist largely fails us in the modern research enterprise.
– Kenneth (Kenny) Gibbs, Jr., PhD
“Diversity in STEM: What it is and Why it matters“
Whether we want to admit it or not, there are very, very, very few of us that get where we want to go, do the science we want to do, and make the breakthroughs we all dream of on our own. Not only that, we are also the product of our upbringing, training, and personal experience. All of us. Yet – this is not a level playing field. We all face challenges and struggles, at many junctures in our education and careers, that shape who we become, the fields we enter, the work we do, and the success we achieve. Some of those challenges are leveled against us simply due to where we were born, and to whom, and to what skin color or gender.
Diversity matters. And not just because it means we face diverse challenges – but also because we bring diverse voices to the table. As Dr. Scott Page argues (with math and logic) in The Difference, diversity matters because it means diverse viewpoints, more creative group thinking, and more breakthroughs. Other work also demonstrates, the diversity of the group working on a problem matters more than natural ability of each group member on their own.
The importance of diversity, both in terms of lifting all up together and in diverse views, has been recognized for decades. It spans fields of research in-of-itself. Yet STEM fields still significantly lack diversity today. There are still formidable challenges to entering these disciplines, and significant biases inherent at all levels of STEM education and career paths.
Here, we want to talk about those issues. We want to discuss work that highlights the challenges, brings to light where they exist and tries to discern why. We also want to look at the literature, to pull out inherent and unconcious bias that still exists in scientific study and publication.
The Diversity Journal Club (#DiversityJC) was born of conversations between Emily Klein (@) and Doctor PMS (@Doctor_PMS) in September, 2014. The premise of this journal club is to discuss articles and blog posts about Diversity in academia. We choose the paper on Mondays and the discussion happens on Mondays at 2pm EST, every other week, under #DiversityJC. After each #DiversityJC we publish a recap of the discussion in our blog. Hope to see you there!