Improving the climate in research and scientific training environments for members of underrepresented minorities
ABSTRACT Despite significant efforts in recent years to increase diversity in science and academia, African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaskan Natives remain severely underrepresented in these fields. To date, institutional social climate has received little attention as a target to improve the representation of these minority groups. In this article, we suggest that improvement in the social climate in both individual laboratories and larger institutions may lead to better recruitment and retention of minorities in science and academia. After documenting the magnitude of the underrepresentation problem, we offer a framework for a better understanding of climate, illustrate how members of majority and minority groups may perceive climate differently, and provide specific recommendations for improving the climate. The benefits of a diverse workforce in the sciences include a commitment to social justice, a broad diversity of perspectives leading to greater opportunities for scientific advancement, and a potentially enhanced focus on understanding and eliminating the health disparities among different racial and ethnic groups.
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ABSTRACT: The need to enhance recruitment and retention of students in the sciences to strengthen the economic and scientific foundation of the United States was recently underscored by the National Science Board. The SOMAS Program (Support Of Mentors And their Students) addresses this need using a two-pronged strategy: 1) Junior faculty receive mentoring and instruction in launching research programs that engage student collaborators; and 2) College students are introduced to discovery in the neurosciences by conducting original research with their professors. Junior faculty from predominantly undergraduate institutions are invited to submit applications to obtain summer research support for undergraduate students who will spend 10 weeks collaborating with the faculty member on projects of common interest. Awards cover a travel and a supply budget, summer student housing, as well as faculty and student stipends. The faculty mentors and their students are to use the travel support to attend the joint Annual Meetings of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) and the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN). Faculty Awardees are required to participate in the Survival Skills and Ethics Workshop held at the SfN Meeting to prepare them to write grants aimed at supporting their research programs. Students are to present their summer research findings at the FUN Poster Session held jointly with the SfN Meeting. Students are also required to attend Survival Skills Workshop sessions that focus on ethics in research and that provide tips on applying to graduate school. The SOMAS-URM Program presently emphasizes recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups to enhance participation in scientific discovery by the full range of the American population.Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 10/2009; 8(1).
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ABSTRACT: The need to increase the number of college graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines is a national issue. As the demographics of the United States' population grow increasingly more diverse, the recognition that students of color are disproportionately under-represented among those individuals successful at completing STEM degrees requires exigent and sustained intervention. Although a range of efforts and funding have been committed to increasing the success of under-represented minority (URM) students at primarily white, or majority, institutions, widespread progress has been slow. Simultaneously, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions have demonstrated disproportionate successes in graduating URM students with STEM degrees and those that proceed to completing graduate-level degrees in the sciences. The differential successes of particular institutions with promoting the achievement of diverse individuals in obtaining academic STEM degrees suggest that with committed and strategic leadership, advancements in creating academic communities that promote the success of a diverse range of students in STEM can be achieved in part through assessing and mitigating environmental barriers that impede success at majority institutions. In this paper, we address issues related to the engagement of URM students in majority settings and describe some efforts that have shown success for promoting diversity in STEM and highlight continuing issues and factors associated with cultivating diversity in academic STEM disciplines at majority institutions. Recommended efforts include addressing academic assistance, professional and cultural socialization issues and institutional environmental factors that are associated with success or lack thereof for URMs in STEM.Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 10/2012; 11(1):A44-A51.
Article: DIVERSITY IN THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS