More generally, WoC face the same barriers as other women in science: insufficient science education, lack of support, and socialized lack of interest in STEM; and, in the professional years, the two-body problem and problems of work-life balance.
Recommendations to External Communities
The above barriers inform our interrelated, but largely independent, recommendations to external communities for action items in support of WoC in academia.
Build cohorts of high achieving WoC graduate students at leading institutions to provide supportive, interdisciplinary peer networks for WoC. Organizations like the Posse Foundation, Inc. and the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program11 have valuable experience with this technique and should be seen as resources in establishing strong cohorts of WoC graduate students, in combination with HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and MSIs (minority serving institutions). For example, Florida International University (FIU) and Spelman College have successful undergraduate physics programs and can be expected to be able to extend their methods to the graduate level. Larger majority institutions should take the lead in providing the physical resources necessary to host these cohorts, and key participants should cooperate to build a framework for nurturing them.
Key external participants: Posse Foundation, Inc.; Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program; leading STEM HBCUs (FIU, Xavier, Spelman, etc.); leading STEM MSIs; and funding agencies.
Barriers addressed: #1,4,5,9
Require diversity and cultural awareness training for people in supervisory roles. Lack of cultural awareness and understanding often leads to over-reliance on stereotypes. Requiring leaders in the academy, such as deans, department chairs, and search committee chairs, to participate in diversity training and awareness programs would force their attention to the issue. Funding agencies could make such training a requirement for federal research funding. In addition, professional societies could provide regular opportunities for such training at their conferences. An important resource is the University of Michigan ADVANCE Faculty Recruitment Guide.12
Key external participants: Funding agencies, leaders in the academy, experts in diversity, policy makers, and professional societies.
Barriers addressed: #1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
Encourage fair hiring practices that minimize implicit bias towards WoC. Studies13 have shown that only after reviewers are given specific metrics with which to assess candidates do they avoid giving unfair advantage to white males. The active dissemination of training
11 Stassun & Holley-Bockelmann 2009, http://wia2009.gsfc.nasa.gov/WIA2009_proceedings.pdf, p. 197
13 Martell 1991, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, 1939; Trix & Psenka 2003, Discourse & Society, 14, 191; and Heilman 1980, Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 26, 386