As scientists and engineers, we consider ourselves fortunate to work in fields that advance knowledge and understanding.
Participating in research and discovery, as well as mentoring young scientists, has enormous benefits.
Science is a unique and vital institution in and of itself. It thrives after centuries of human ingenuity and effort and continues to make substantial contributions to society’s well-being in areas such as global environmental change knowledge and mitigation.
Creating technical answers to widespread societal concerns and achieving innovations for enhancing public health.
Science, on the other hand, does not occur in a vacuum; it is a social process that reflects cultural norms and social patterns that influence scientific methods and outcomes.
Opportunities and entryways into STEM fields are not equally available to all members of our society, resulting in a demographically limited practice of science.
Furthermore, scientific activity has disproportionately benefited individuals of the higher levels of society.
Moreover, the scientific enterprise has too often been associated with injustices that exacerbate the subjugation of racial minorities, women, and LGBTQ people.
Finally, science’s culture has evolved in ways that reinforce its image as an unwelcoming career path for socially marginalized groups.
When aspiring scientists initially enter the field, it is frequently out of a sense of curiosity, a desire to better comprehend the natural world, and/or a desire to make a positive contribution to society.
Typically, we don’t know much about science culture at first. And we have no idea what kind of historical heritage we’re inheriting, let alone the social and power dynamics of the research ecosystem we’re becoming a part of.https://mysteriousofscience.com/what-a-best-beautiful-science-in-the-world/
We start our careers in a specific field and gradually learn how to traverse the scientific system.
the quirks of academia and the prerequisites for success in a STEM field Not everyone who comes in remains.
The scientific enterprise is a system of people, ideas, projects, resources, norms, and institutions when viewed as a whole.
The deep connectivity between scientists, knowledge creation, and knowledge is successfully highlighted by a “science of science” approach.
However, additional research into the links between scientific diversity (or lack thereof) and knowledge outcomes is required.
This is because scientists are not representative of our culture.
Only around 9% of STEM academic positions in the United States are held by African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, and other racially disenfranchised people, and that number has barely increased over the last four decades.
This percentage contrasts sharply with the shifting demographics in the United States. Women (mostly white women) now receive about 41% of STEM doctoral degrees and have boosted their percentage of STEM academic posts to around 39%, although they still lag behind men, especially at higher levels of management.
Female scientists have a higher incidence of attrition as they advance in their careers, with a 19.5 percent higher dropout rate than male scientists.
Meanwhile, requests for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM areas are growing, and many investments have been made in good programs targeted at furthering STEM diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Thus-called “pipeline interventions” have focused the majority of efforts so far on increasing entry possibilities and training a diverse STEM workforce.
So, why has there been such a lag in substantial progress? The long answer entails a clear-eyed assessment of barriers to equity (particularly systemic racism and sexism in our society and, as a result, in our science system), overrepresentation of a narrow demographic in STEM, outdated but entrenched leadership models, uniquely imbalanced and potentially harmful power dynamics in the academy, and numerous other issues.
The short answer is yes. It is the system, not the participants, that is at fault. This means that, for the sake of science’s future, we should concentrate more of our efforts on systemic reform.
In today’s world, our science system’s current culture is an anachronism that must be updated.
The current system is based on conventions and practices developed decades ago by and for a small segment of society.
If we want to diversify the system beyond the relatively unconstrained and advantaged members of society, we must rethink entry and progression criteria, definitions of excellence and success, institutional rules and values, and the incentive systems that define STEM career trajectories.
This is also becoming more apparent as a result of scientific community surveys.
Our science system is becoming increasingly competitive, aggressive, demographically exclusionary, and jarringly reminiscent of its historical roots in a Eurocentric, white, patriarchal culture, according to its members.
To be a “successful” scientist today, one must follow a fairly predictable path up an increasingly competitive, monetized, and metricized career ladder, raising the question of whether we have arrived at a point where we value what we can measure rather than what we should value.
One must compete for research funds regularly, and one’s advancement, promotion, and credibility are all tied to the amount of grant money brought into one’s university.
Because of social and family constraints that may affect individuals differently, especially in early career phases, this paradigm can be even more problematic for scientists from racially marginalized groups and women.
Furthermore, research suggests that women and racial minorities in STEM frequently want to pursue scientific issues that are not the same as those pursued by the socially dominant community of scientists.
Only the pressure to publish research findings as rapidly and frequently as possible in the ‘highest impact journals matches the drive to get research money.
and to boost the number of citations your papers receive (measured by various widely utilized performance metrics).
The publish-or-perish treadmill, like research funding, is plagued by the question of what is most interesting to people in power in the science system.
And, depending on how it is implemented, our peer review system has both explicit and unconscious biases.
The dominant transactional styles of leadership in STEM do not select for a diverse, collaborative workforce since they are driven by metric-based criteria for recognition and promotion.
In this atmosphere, self-promotion is also a necessary talent. To succeed, one must advertise oneself and gain as much attention on social media as possible (measured by Altmetric Attention Scores and other indices).
In terms of research quality and social dynamics of fighting for attention, it’s clear where this path might lead.
Furthermore, subordinated scientific groups are not as visible to the scientific press as dominant organizations and thus are not seen as the faces of science thought leadership.
The recent instance of Pulitzer Prize–winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, and the associated UNC tenure debate, illustrates how societal attention for scholars of color and women can result in unfavorable attention and/or retaliation.
The established measurements of success favor highly competitive rather than collaborative cultures, an underrepresented STEM workforce, small demography at the top, a mentoring approach that favors mentors over mentees, and possibly damaging circumstances for underrepresented groups in science.
According to a new report by the National Academy of Sciences on sexual harassment in STEM disciplines, academic science is second only to the military in terms of gender harassment, wreaking havoc on women who pursue STEM careers.
Minority scientists, who are all too often underrepresented in scientific departments, work in hostile circumstances and have historically been denied credit for their research contributions.
Given this situation, failing to “move the needle” on diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM becomes not only comprehensible but also inevitable.
Even if scientists are successful in their fields, these dynamics can pose a slew of stressors to their psychological well-being.
When the behavior of some professors becomes public, the cost is also visible in the damage done to institutional reputations.
So, why should we all be concerned? Isn’t science getting faster and faster all the time? Isn’t the number of research papers published continually increasing? Isn’t it true that a large number of foreign scientists come to the United States to work in our world-class science system? Yes, all of this is true—but for the future growth of research and the translation of its benefits to society, creating systemic cultural change in STEM to diversify the STEM workforce is crucial.
True scientific diversity, equity, and inclusion will have a significant positive impact on addressing the increasingly complex issues at the heart of the science-society-policy junction.
It is crucial to the future of science, perhaps more so than any other topic.
It matters because the types of questions posed, who conducts research, and who asks scientific questions (e.g., do health trials include all demographic sectors of society?) all influence scientific results.
It is important because research shows that broader perspectives and diverse people lead to better science outputs, more innovation, and increased creativity (e.g., are there diverse viewpoints at the innovation tables?).
It matters because diverse identities in science define distinct research goals that decide who benefits from science and technical developments (e.g., are technological breakthroughs considering impacts on all communities?).
It is important because the crucial link between scientific outputs and evidence-based public policy is built on public trust in science, which is based on full involvement, engagement, and representation in science.
Finally, it matters because the scientific endeavor in the United States is largely sponsored by the general public, and as a result, it should include and serve the general public.
The so-called “Science Bargain” or “Science-Society Contract” supports our science system via social investments. Many scientists are unfamiliar with a 1945 study titled Science: The Endless Frontier, yet it was a seminal policy paper for government (public) support of science in the United States.
Vannevar Bush, the director of the government Office of Scientific Research and Development at the time, published the report towards the end of WWII.
Bush advocated that government investment in university- and research-based science during the war effort should be continued in the postwar era, but diverted to the nation’s scientists working on basic research at our finest universities.
As a result, research universities and the federal government (and, by extension, the American people) formed an implicit alliance to promote knowledge development in the service of society.
Because the public funds the scientific effort in the United States, it appears self-evident that the entire public deserves to fully participate in the system and profit from its advancements.
However, at this time, that aspect of the concept remains unmet.
And if none of those arguments (societally relevant science, more innovative science, more representative science, increased public trust in science, financially responsible science) convince you, then transforming our science system into a more just, equitable, and inclusive enterprise is still necessary—it is the morally right thing to do.
We can’t leave a science reckoning out of the mix in the current social backdrop of increasing attention to societal disparities and injustices across many of our American institutions. Science is a social justice concern as well.
A meaningful conversation about the science system’s historical inequalities is already underway.
Who gets to be a part of science? Who stands to gain from it? Who is harmed by it on occasion? Who decides what are the most significant research priorities? The profound misalignment between population demographics and practicing scientists today is unsustainable when evaluated through a social justice lens.
The goal is to create an inclusive STEM culture and a more representative science that will become the norm through a concerted, systemic transformation.
Given the social and political conditions we live in, and the fact that the system has already been disrupted, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift the existing scientific paradigm.
To succeed, long-standing roadblocks to this goal must be removed, one of which is the aforementioned science culture. But there’s more: educational inequity, meritocracy myths, oversimplified success metrics, entrenched legacy attitudes about excellence, competition, and the faces of leadership; career advancement and tenure criteria that don’t always align with the values of diverse stakeholders; unwelcoming or hostile work environments in the classroom, laboratory, and fieldwork; and
In some ways, reforming our science system is both simple and complicated: simple in the sense that all that is required is political will; complicated in the sense that we are attempting to transform a complex and highly interconnected system with reinforcing feedback dynamics but numerous disconnected components.
STEM educational systems, higher education, academic institutions, scientific fields and professional societies, individual scientists, science policies, the science publication industry, research funding agencies, and other elements are among these components.
For major systemic change to occur, all of these components must work together and align.
Increasing diversity in the STEM pipeline and among individuals in early career phases, for example, will fail if academic institutions’ cultures do not evolve to fit the lives of diverse participants, or if bigotry keeps them sidelined or drives them out of the system.
As a result, improving equity, diversity, and inclusion in the scientific community is a systems-based task.
It will necessitate a more coordinated and unified effort with all embedded components cooperating toward common objectives.
Despite its complexity and difficulty, such a project will be well worth the effort.
With so many difficulties and opportunities ahead of us, science requires all hands on deck.
Let us build a science system that works for everyone, change the direction of science’s amazing human history to a more just and inclusive endeavor, and realize a more comprehensive vision of the science-society contract.
Read More: https://mysteriousofscience.com/new-the-scientists-created-ancient-proteins-that-detect-illnesses/