the last fiscal year. The data also indicate a lower-than-expected representation of women of color in the higher grade levels (GS 14, GS 15, and SES/ST/SL) of AST occupations, in comparison to the RCLF. NASA has established planned actions for focused outreach, recruitment, and advancement in its Model Agency Equal Employment Opportunity Plan and Model Center EEO Plans.37 For example, some of the actions in the Agency plan include improving women’s participation in leadership development programs, short-term rotations, and other developmental assignments; apprising the Executive Resources Board and other senior councils regarding lack of diversity in senior level positions; improving the participation of underrepresented groups in student programs that lead to potential employment with NASA; coordinating education and awareness events to showcase success stories of women and help eliminate negative stereotypes; and examining the nomination processes for Agency honor awards to ensure all employees have equitable opportunities to be recognized. In addition, there are a number of other efforts that NASA is undertaking to increase the recruitment of women of color, as well as to build a pipeline to ensure there is a future workforce that is well represented by women of color. These are discussed below.
Enhancing the Career Progression of Women of Color at NASA
Research has identified some of the challenges in terms of recruitment and advancement of women in the fields of science and engineering. There are inherent biases and stereotyping that exist for women of color in the science and engineering workplace. In addition, there are challenges related to the lack of mentorship and isolation. While there is a need to ensure that more women of color choose to study in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, which will be addressed later, there is also a need to focus on recruitment and retention of women. NASA is working to develop an Agency-wide hiring and recruitment plan that will address issues involving diversity, including women of color. This plan will build off of some of the best practices that already exist in the Centers.
Of particular note is the Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) effort on the recruitment front. JSC has employed numerous initiatives to increase recruitment of women of color. They developed the “Recruiting Working Group” to enhance collaboration between Human Resources, Education, and the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (ODEO) in recruiting underrepresented populations, including women of color. The group meets quarterly to discuss recruiting strategies and recruiting schedules. They routinely work with the Education Office to pipeline top performing interns, including women of color, into the co-op program. They also conduct focus groups with minority co-ops, including women of color, on ways to enhance recruiting and onboarding practices.
Additionally, JSC is conducting a study of best practices in minority recruitment, retention, and executive advancement to gain insight from Fortune 500 companies, aerospace companies, and other government organizations. They are in the process of analyzing the study report and plan to implement some of the lessons learned.
Last year, JSC initiated five Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Three of the groups are race based (African American, Asian Pacific American, and Hispanic). The groups are:
• Fostering responsibility, engagement, and connection for all employees involved by asking them to assist with recruiting and onboarding activities.
• Providing a path for feeling connected and valued.
37 The Agency plans can be found at http://odeo.hq.nasa.gov/documents/NASA_Model_EEO_Agency_Plan_FY12-13.pdf