This award from Divisions of the Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Diratorate for Education and Human Resources supports a workshop to increase awareness of leaders at universities and national laboratories to address ethnic and racial diversity issues in the materials science and engineering (MSE) community. The workshop will be held in Arlington, Virginia, convening the evening of Sunday December 9, 2012 and running through mid-day Tuesday December 11, 2012. The workshop will identify and understand the current status and trends in representation of minorities in MSE, and the major barriers that make science and engineering careers unattractive or unavailable. The workshop will provide a forum (1) to educate those in the MSE community who are in a position to remediate the atmosphere that fosters biases, (2) to develop concrete suggestions to improve the culture for diversity in MSE, and (3) to improve the understanding of the current status and trends in ethnic diversity and equity in MSE. The workshop will result in a set of best practices intended to increase the diversity of faculty members and administrators in MSE and to render the atmosphere welcoming and attractive to all. These best practices will be disseminated in the form of the conference report and publication in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal. This will enable a broader discussion of methods for mitigating diversity issues across the science and engineering community.

Project Report

Statistics very clearly show that academic participation in and employment of ethnic and racial minorities in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is statistically very low. The primary focus of this workshop was issues that affect ethnic minority recruitment and retention and long-term success in MSE, from the undergraduate level and preparation for graduate school, through graduate school, and beyond to success in the workforce —in academia, national laboratories and industry. The workshop brought together influential administrators of MSE departments at universities and national laboratories; Deans of a number of engineering colleges; political leaders; social scientists; psychologists and members of the community with the knowledge to comment on the key issues; NSF, DoE and DoD staff and administrators; and minority scientists at various stages of their careers. The workshop consisted of a series of keynote speeches, topical talks, panel-led discussions, and working breakout groups to identify the underlying challenges and provide recommendations for policy changes to address the problem. The immediate goal of the workshop was to surface and identify issues and challenges that have minimized minority participation in MSE; the longer-term goals are to continue forward by gathering and disseminating data, launching and tracking initiatives to mitigate this problem, and increasing the number of minorities pursuing degrees and careers in MSE. The larger goal, however, is to create over time an ever-increasing number of minority role models in science fields who will, in turn, draw others in to contribute to the workforce of the future. The workshop was comprised of the following sessions: Unconscious Bias & Climate Issues, Panel of Deans, Issues Faced by Female Minorities, the Role and Needs of Minority Serving Institutions, IMPACT Program Overview, Retention, Mentoring and Success, Results from a Graduate Student Survey, Perspectives of Graduate Students and Young Faculty, and a Keynote Address by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. In total, 125 attendees registered for the workshop, including 18 graduate students and a number of post-doctoral scientists. A lengthy report on the workshop, and its findings – including over 70 specific recommendations aimed at individuals, academic leaders, and federal agencies, will be issued in early 2014.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Guebre Tessema
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North Carolina State University Raleigh
United States
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