In 1975, the US government funded the “Double Bind” conference in Virginia to understand why so few minority women were becoming scientists. At the time, there was little understanding of the lived experience of women minority scientists.
There were even fewer strategies to improve their experience. Around 30 minority women scientists attended the conference to discuss a range of cultural, social and financial barriers to advancement. One woman noted the prevalence of white male scientists “who did not know that: (1) all women do not prefer to serve on the social committees; (2) all minority group members were not reared in ghettos; and(3) all women do not type and make coffee.” These attitudes are still widespread, and now include rising Islamophobia, nationalism and attempts to roll back womens’ rights.
The 1975 conference report contained recommendations for policy-makers, schools and universities, including mentoring programmes cultural and gender training; encouraging girls and minorities into science careers, scholarships for women and minorities and peer support networks.
Nearly 45 years later, universities, schools and most governments now have some form of equality and diversity strategy. There have been great strides in empirical research to understand the nature of discrimination and improved data on recruitment, retention, promotion and pay for women and minority scientists. The concepts of equality, inclusion and diversity (EDI) are now mainstream.
Unfortunately, equality and diversity amongst scientists remains low. The 2018 Pew Report noted that the gender earnings gap had not changed in 25 years. From 1973 to 2012, 66 black women were granted physics doctorates in the US. In the same 39 year period, over 22,000 white men were granted a physics PhD.
The ASPIRE project seeks to understand why many EDI initiatives have failed to make a difference in the research sciences. We are hosting a stream at the 2020 Gender, Work and Organization Conference, which will be held in Kent from June 24th to June 26th. If you have experience of EDI initiatives in the sciences, would you consider submitting a paper to our stream? We accept a wide range of formats for your paper: it could be a presentation, poem, play, or a personal account of your experiences as a science researcher. If you are interested, please submit an abstract of approximately 500 words by Friday 1st November 2019. Decisions on acceptance of abstracts will be made within one month and communicated to authors by Monday 2nd December 2019. If you have any questions, or if you would like to submit an abstract, please contact Dr Udeni Salmon: email@example.com.
Udeni Salmon, PhD, is Research Fellow at the University of Lincoln and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Keele. Entrepreneurship and innovation in family firms, SMEs and regional development is the focus of her research and the topic of the mixed methods PhD which was awarded in 2017.