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NASEM Committee on Anti-Racism and DEI in STEM Held its Second Meeting

April 13, 2022

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) held its second meeting for the Committee on Advancing Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) in STEM on March 22. See FABBS previous coverage on the first meeting here. The goal of the interdisciplinary committee is to provide a hallmark consensus report of clear and actionable advice to the nation in advancing anti-racism and DEI within all levels of STEM organizations.

Dr. Susan Fiske, past president of FABBS and editor of our journal Policy Insights from the Behavioral Brain Sciences (PIBBS), chaired the meeting. Presenters Drs. James Jones, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Director of the Center for the Study of Diversity, University of Delaware, and Lincoln Quillian, Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University, both offered advice and discussed key issues in framing and preparing the future report.

Dr. Jones highlighted the importance of having diversity competency as a default within STEM organizations, as well as addressing critical race theory. Dr. Jones explains how DEI has emerged as “tertium quid.” Conflict arises in determining race versus diversity; race has clear moral boundaries and arcs toward justice. DEI introduces ambiguous boundaries and often valid but competing interests. These areas within diversity pursue anti-racist and diversity agendas that may occasionally conflict (determining race versus diversity), but the success depends on the ability to understand their differences and capitalize on their commonalities.

“Race is so significant in our consciousness and collective histories, it is inherently polarizing, threatening, and volatile. Diversity is a simpler way that can be used to sanitize the difficulties of confronting race. DEI has to take all this into account.” – Dr. Jones

Dr. Quillian’s presentation explained racial discrimination in hiring as observed through field experiments. In these field experiments, applications for real jobs were altered to reflect racially/ethnically diverse candidates. These include in-person audit studies (e.g. Pager, 2003) and résumé audit studies (e.g. Bertand & Mullainathn, 2004) where subjects would apply for entry-level job listings from job banks or newspaper advertisements, often one majority and one minority candidate per position. This study provided robust estimates of discrimination within hiring fields. However, Dr. Quillian’s studies conclude there is a significant post-callback discrimination: discrimination in job offers estimated to be about twice callback discrimination; formalized hiring procedure may help control discrimination.

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