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APLU Co-Led Aspire Alliance Releases Report on Equity Reform in STEM Faculty Careers

Washington, DC – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) co-led National Science Foundation (NSF) INCLUDES Aspire Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty today released a report outlining approaches to addressing systemic barriers to successful careers for diverse science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) faculty.

The report is the result of a National Science Foundation-sponsored conference series, Envisioning and Enacting an Inclusive and Diverse STEM Professoriate, convening STEM faculty, university administrators, and members of the scientific community to identify approaches to increasing diversity and inclusion among the STEM professoriate.

We’re facing a pressing and persistent lack of diversity among STEM faculty nationally,” said Jessica Bennett, Assistant Vice President of STEM Education at APLU. “We know institutional efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the professoriate have a critical role to play in addressing the challenge, but we need system-wide changes to achieve the gains needed nationally.”

Noting that existing institutional-level efforts have failed to significantly move the dial on STEM faculty diversity nationally, the report underscores the importance of taking a systems-level approach to boosting diversity and inclusion in STEM faculty. The report calls on the academic and scientific community to address the drivers of disparities in interconnected academic settings such as publishers and journals, disciplinary societies and professional organizations, funding agencies, other external entities such as state and federal legislatures, and institutions of higher education.

Drawing on insights from conference attendees, the report centers on three interrelated approaches to boosting diversity and inclusion among STEM faculty nationally. This includes: tracing, addressing, and dismantling systemic inequities in STEM faculty careers; eliminating rigid “tracking” in academic careers that can lead to limited pathways for those from underrepresented groups; and broadening what contributions are considered valuable in promotion and tenure decisions. Each section provides a vision for addressing disparities in a given part of the ecosystem. The report concludes with a call to use a collaborative and systemic approach to promoting diversity and inclusion in the STEM professoriate as a way to enable institutions advance inclusive excellence and better serve their communities. To further advance the report’s goals of enhancing a dialogue in the STEM ecosystem, Aspire is also making available a dialogue toolkit to support various communities to engage in dialogues similar to those hosted by the conference series.

About the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance

The NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance (NSF No. 1834518, 1834522, 1834510, 1834513, 1834526, 1834521) aims to cultivate a diverse and inclusive national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty that thrives within inclusive organizational practices and cultures, leading to high underrepresented group retention along STEM career pathways. Aspire engages over 125 four-year and two-year higher education institutions and more than 1500 individuals in capacity-building professional development programs, institutional improvement and learning networks, and practice-research partnerships. Alongside key partners, Aspire (1) deepens the preparation of current and future STEM faculty to be inclusive, (2) transforms institutional practice to increase the diversity of the national STEM faculty, and (3) fosters cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly and within STEM faculty work specifically.

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