New NSF Report on Understanding Intersectionality in STEM

The Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) released Making Visible the Invisible: Understanding Intersectionality. CEOSE advises NSF on activities, policies, practices and programs, to facilitate participation of underrepresented racial/ethnic populations, persons with disabilities, and women in all aspects of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) enterprise. The committee submits a biennial report to Congress to advance broadening participations in science and engineering. 

The report reveals the importance of measuring intersectionality – overlapping social categorization – to better understand and address barriers to STEM engagement. The committee made two recommendations to NSF to improve collection and analysis of intersectional data:

  • Utilize intersectional analysis to remove barriers to the participation of persons from various populations historically underrepresented in STEM fields, so as to meet more effectively the needs of society and maximize the nation’s scientific investment. This requires that NSF invest in obtaining and analyzing higher resolution data about investigators’ identities, demographic characteristics and institutions to develop strategies and programmatic interventions.
  • Develop metrics and utilize an intersectional analytical framework in implementing and assessing the recommended actions for the NSF EPSCoR portfolio from the future of NSF EPSCoR report. Recommendations and suggestions in the report are exemplary strategies that can be undertaken nationally to promote broadening participation and institutional transformation in the STEM enterprise.

Dr. Sandra Graham, former FABBS Board member, is among the committee members that produced this report. Dr. Graham has long spoken about the importance of measuring intersectionality, having chaired a session at the 2020 FABBS Annual Meeting, along with Kelli Craig Henderson and Rachel Puffer, and moderated the NSF Women, Minorities, People with Disabilities webinar, entitled “LGBTQ+ and Multiracial Demographics in WMPD: Opportunities and Challenges for Inclusion“.

Last October, Graham was honored with the 2023 APS James S. Jackson Lifetime Achievement Award for Transformative Scholarship recognizing a lifetime of outstanding psychological research that advances understanding of historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups and/or the psychological and societal benefits of racial/ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion.