Charge to the Workshop

Executive Summary

Part I: The STEM Workforce: Establishing the Need for Change

Under-Representation as a Social Justice Issue

Current Lack of Diversity and Opportunity

Part II: The STEM Pathways Workshop: Describing the Change

Broad Issues Related to the STEM Workforce

From Successful Programs to Large-Scale Change

The Contributions of

An Action Plan

Part III: Conclusion: Toward a New Vision for the Enterprise of Science


Appendix: Workshop Attendees


An Action Plan

The most important theme emerging from the workshop was the need for a unified approach to achieving STEM workforce diversity. “Now is a time for integration, to make the whole greater than the parts,” said one workshop participant. “We must work together to enlist and engage the next generation of scientists and engineers and prepare them for careers.” A valuable step for federal agencies is to provide leadership in implementing program principles designed to increase the diversity of those involved in STEM fields, where programs include research, implementation, education and other funded activities. A set of seven program principles emerged from the workshop sessions. In addition to the specific disciplinary focus of research programs, all programs should include one or more of the following workforce development components:

1 Focus on diversity in STEM leadership and faculty development.
2 Focus on integrative initiatives across multiple programs and to include multiple organizations, such as professional societies and private industry.
3 Focus on identifying and strengthening transition points along STEM pathways.
4 Focus on centers of excellence that address multiple aspects of STEM pathways.
5 Focus on development of assessment methodologies and metrics to measure success.
6 Focus on long-term sustainability of successful programs.
7 Focus on national dissemination of results from exemplary programs.

Strategies and Funding Mechanisms to Foster Leadership and Integrative Action
To attract, retain, and enhance the experiences of those individuals who will constitute the STEM workforce of the 21st century, existing and future workforce programs and initiatives must be part of a comprehensive, integrated system. The current piecemeal approach to the problem must be consolidated and coordinated so that individual efforts contribute to the success of other efforts and exert beneficial influence on the entire research and educational enterprise. As one presenter said, “We need to embed diversity in everything we do.” No one model program can guarantee success, just as no one research program will produce the lessons needed to solve all problems. There must be vertical linkages" across programs that range from pre-kindergarten through pre college education through undergraduate and graduate education into a career, with bridges across current divides. And there must be horizontal linkages among research, policy, and practice so that programs become part of the educational and workforce culture, not incidental and temporary add-ons to existing efforts. Above all, program leaders and researchers have a moral imperative to work together to address this issue.

Institutional Partnerships
More and stronger partnerships among all of the institutions involved in the preparation and employment of the STEM workforce are essential in forging an integrated and comprehensive system. There needs to be greater connections among educational institutions, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and professional societies to accelerate progress and fill gaps where expertise is missing. In addition, many institutions, such as churches, civic associations, or even sororities and fraternities, which are often overlooked, can play valuable roles. Partnerships must include community colleges, where a significant pool of African American, Hispanic, women, first-generation, and older students begin their college careers. Pathways from community colleges into four-year colleges and beyond can be a powerful means to increase the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups. In addition, professional societies of scientists and engineers from under-represented groups have proven that they can have a significant influence on choices about STEM careers. Partnerships among institutions and within institutions can create pathways into STEM careers that have been underused in the past. “It’s important to look outside of standard source pools and consider not only demonstrated skills but potential,” said one workshop participant. “We need to think beyond current models, by recruiting from other [non STEM] undergraduate majors, for example.” Within institutions, efforts should be facilitated to create and maintain synergies among STEM programs at different levels (e.g., viewing programs that target underrepresented groups as sources from which to recruit.) Partnerships are an important mechanism for fostering the development of leaders and program champions, who often rise to the fore when confronted with the challenges of meshing different cultures. By providing support for women, persons with disabilities, and under-represented minority groups, federally supported programs can help grow
Leaders from within these communities.

Instituting Incentives through Research Funding
Change within individual institutions and across institutions requires that success be tied to reward systems. Federal agencies and other funding agencies should use all the mechanisms and partners at their disposal to effect change. First and foremost, they must use the grants they award as a policy tool, and the projects they support should be seen as interventions for the achievement of explicit outcomes. “There are not good mechanisms for accountability at institutions that receive federal funding,” said a participant summarizing a workshop breakout session.”“Funders should look at institutions that have a good track record for improving diversity and fund them more, and look at institutions that don’t do as well and develop mechanisms for improvement.” Several other proposals for change were discussed at the workshop. Federal agencies and other funders could fund the development of an online inventory of past educational and research programs that includes available information about program characteristics and assessment metrics for success. They could establish an award program recognizing leadership in the support of diversity in preparing the STEM workforce, just as there are now award programs for outstanding teaching and mentoring. They could provide support to convene annual workshops and conferences at federally supported centers to raise awareness of STEM workforce issues and to provide opportunities for practitioners and leaders in STEM fields to share ideas and methods for increasing diversity.

One idea that was discussed extensively was for federal funders to create regional or national alliances of educational and research programs focused on broadening participation in the STEM workforce. Such alliances could create new pathways to successful STEM careers, with specific metrics and indicators of success. The alliances could have goals for five, ten, and fifteen years, with provisions to scale up those parts of the effort that prove most successful. The overall goal of the initiative would be to create alliances that are an integral part of the educational system so that programs become self-sustaining. At the same time, federal agencies and private foundations need to be willing to fund programs that take risks by trying new approaches. Funders should be visible advocates of these programs and create institutional environments conducive to their success. As one participant said, “We need to be innovative and eclectic. It’s an experiment to develop human talent, and experiments may not always be replicable.” Funders must determine how to optimize the return on their investment and how to leverage their higher education constituency to create lasting change. They must take actions that are “risky, novel, and bold,” as one presenter said.

Using Program Principles for Capacity Building

The challenge for funding agencies will be to use the seven program principles delineated in this report to call attention to capacity building throughout the entire scientific and engineering enterprise. The principles will enable them to provide a more focused and uniform set of guidelines in new program solicitations to insure the development of a broader talent pool over time. Educational and research programs then would be evaluated for funding and renewal based upon their contributions to and alignment with these principles. An effort to assess the outcomes of programs around common principles will help integrate these programs into a more unified system.

At the same time, we encourage all federal agencies to work together to build a robust and diverse STEM workforce. We recommend that federal agencies In particular, NSF, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and U.S. Department of Education, need to share information about research and solutions and develop policies and procedures for discussing STEM issues at all levels of education and in the workplace. Partnerships with government agencies could yield significant benefits, such as in the case of the Department of Defense, which has both great resources and great need for STEM employees.

The task ahead is formidable. It will require federal agencies to serve as catalysts for transforming the research enterprise by engaging new partners in academe, government, and industry – and through these partnerships, work collaboratively across disciplines to meet the challenge of developing a competitive and diverse domestic workforce that is truly representative of the U.S. population base. Where possible, federal agencies and private foundations should take leadership roles in fostering synergies across programs, particularly when there are several funded projects from the same funding source or from multiple funding sources at a given institution. The ultimate goal is for the entire federal portfolio of activities to be coordinated with respect to workforce development so that a robust pipeline with multiple entry and exit points is created to provide numerous educational and career opportunities for a diverse set of people across the science and engineering enterprise.