Improving the climate in research and scientific training environments for members of underrepresented minorities

California State University, San Marcos, San Marcos, California, United States
The Neuroscientist (Impact Factor: 7.62). 03/2004; 10(1):26-30. DOI: 10.1177/1073858403260304
Source: PubMed

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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