Paper No. 221-1
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM
"UNDERREPRESENTED" IS NOT JUST A BUZZWORD: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE LACK OF ETHNIC AND RACIAL DIVERSITY IN THE GEOSCIENCES AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
The underrepresentation of certain minority groups (African American, Hispanic, Asian & Pacific Islander, Native American) is far more severe within the geosciences than within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields as a whole. This disparity will likely increase as the demographics of the United States shifts in response to rapid growth, particularly in Hispanic and Asian American populations, in the coming decades. In this study, we examine trends in the ethnic and racial demographics of geoscience students and professionals in order to establish a baseline understanding of barriers to recruitment and retention. Drawing on publicly available large datasets (e.g., NSF Science & Engineering Indicators; NSF Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering; National Center for Education Statistics; US Census), our statistical analysis finds that while the geosciences are less diverse than other STEM fields, there are lower rates of attrition for underrepresented minority (URM) students throughout post-secondary education. This suggests that failure to recruit URM students lies at the core of our field’s diversity problem. In response, UC Riverside has developed several geoscience recruitment programs targeted at high school, community college and undergraduate URM students. These programs include field experiences for high school students, research opportunities and transfer assistance for community college students, and mentoring, internships and research opportunities for undergraduates.