The composition of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is about more than the individuals involved in science and engineering—it also is about the quality of science and engineering itself, and how that quality impacts the economy and the national interest. As National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova observed in 2016, “The U.S. science and engineering workforce can thrive if women, blacks, Hispanics, and people with disabilities are represented in percentages comparable to their representation in the U.S. population. According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, we have a long way to go to reach that goal. We can achieve national STEM diversity and its benefits to our nation if we commit to national STEM inclusion.”
Developing an appropriate accountability system for broadening participation is crucial to achieving a STEM workforce that reflects the diversity of the American population. Colleges and universities, on the front line of STEM research and education, must lead the way, while NSF can function as the lead catalyst among federal agencies for incentivizing principal investigators (PI) and higher education institutions to move with urgency toward achieving this goal.
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