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



The continuing lack of full and diverse participation of all citizens in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce threatens the economic strength, national security, and well-being of U.S.citizens.The under-representation of certain groups also raises serious issues of social justice and lack of opportunity in a society that professes to be egalitarian and democratic. As groups under-represented in the STEM workforce become an increasingly larger part of the U.S.population, the vitality of the STEM workforce may further decline unless action is taken to broaden participation of all parts of our society. Educational and career paths are idiosyncratic and difficult to predict, but a variety of projects and policies have proven effective in increasing the diversity of individuals pursuing STEM careers. However, many of these programs and policies have remained marginal to the core activities of institutions; many have not been institutionalized due to reliance on external funding sources; and many programs have been conducted in a piecemeal fashion without links to other programs or evaluation that can guide future activities. Research on the pathways and training leading to STEM careers and on the workplace environment has already produced valuable findings about how to increase access to these fields for all U.S. citizens. Yet too often these research findings have not been widely disseminated or fully integrated into assessments of current programs or the development of new ones. In addition, important research questions have gone unanswered because of inadequate integration across programs and a lack of support for such research. The current piecemeal approach to the development of the STEM workforce must be unified so that individual efforts contribute to the whole and exert beneficial effects on the entire educational and workforce system. When individual students travel along the various pathways toward the ultimate goal of joining the STEM workforce, there must be transition mechanisms in place so that they do not get lost along the way. Federal agencies and other funding organizations must implement program principles designed to increase the full and diverse participation of all citizens in STEM fields. Programs include research, implementation, education and other funded activities. The following seven program principles are recommendations from the workshop:

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 developing 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.

The goal of the principles is to guide integration of existing and future programs and initiatives into an overall system that attracts, retains, and enhances the experiences of all individuals who are preparing for and engaged in STEM careers. The challenge for funding agencies will be to use the program principles 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. This will require federal agencies that are engaged with all educational levels and across all fields of scientific research to serve as catalysts for transforming the scientific enterprise by engaging new partners in academe, government, and industry. These partnerships, must 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.
It became clear that some groups will need more resources and support than others all along the multiple STEM pathways in order to enjoy full participation in the workforce of the future. The workshop strongly recommends that policy makers encourage the development of a network of pathways that allows students from diverse backgrounds to achieve success in a range of roles, such as researcher, educator, evaluator, industry leader, or entrepreneur.

Realizing the capability of all its citizens requires that the nation ’s policy makers view the development of human resources as inseparable from the goal of expanding the research frontier. Developing people to their full intellectual potential and developing a vibrant science and engineering enterprise should be seen as a synergistic, two-way relationship, with both aspects being of equal importance and dependent upon each other for success.