Implicit Bias in STEM

There is a growing body of literature on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) diversity, examining the underrepresentation of women and minorities in these fields. While the number of women has increased in some fields over the last few decades, there has been little to no increase in racial and ethnic minorities, especially in fields such as the geosciences. Further, research shows that racial and sexual minorities feel unwelcome in STEM and leave these fields at higher rates than others.

Closely related to the topic of STEM diversity are the topics of Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat. Implicit bias, also known as unconscious or subconscious bias, is an association or bias that is outside of our conscious control. It starts in early childhood as we get conditioned by society in our everyday lives, and affects how we perceive things, which in turn affects our decision-making processes, whether or not we are consciously aware of such associations or biases. Stereotype threat refers to the risk of being perceived as conforming to a usually negative stereotype associated with one's identity, e.g., race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, nationality.

Avoid Implicit Bias in Letters of Recommendation

Here are some Guidelines on Avoiding Implicit Gender Bias when Writing Letters of Recommendation.

Research on Implicit Bias and STEM Diversity

Here are some relevant articles and papers on implicit bias and stereotype threat in the context of STEM diversity:

- Gender inequity in speaking opportunities at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting: View article

- No progress on racial and ethnic diversity in the geosciences in 40 years: View article

- Black and Latinx students leave STEM at higher rates than White students: View article

- LGBTQ scientists leave STEM fields at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts: View article

- Nearly half of US female scientists leave full-time science after first child: View article

- Gender differences in recommendation letters for postdoctoral fellowships in geoscience: View article

- Earth science journals invite too few women to referee: View article

- Science faculty show subtle gender biases favoring male students: View article

- Gender imbalance in US geoscience academia: View article

 

STEM Diversity and Harassment Awareness

Recent studies have shown a close link between a lack of diversity and higher rates of harassment. This harassment takes many forms - sexual, bullying, gender-based, workplace hostility, and aggression - some of which are elaborated upon further in the articles and resources below:

- The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report in June 2018 on sexual harassment in the academic sciences. The report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, provides a comprehensive review of the research, experiences, and effects of sexual harassment on women in science.

- Specific to the geosciences, NSF's ADVANCE-Geo project is a collection of online community resources to address harassment in the geoscience community.

- Op-ed: Harassment in science is real, Science magazine

- Op-ed: Implicit Bias and Lack of Diversity Undermine Science, Scientific American

- Many women scientists sexually harassed during fieldwork. Read the full report: Survey of academic field experiences.

- Double jeopardy in astronomy and planetary science: Women of color face greater risks of gendered and racial harassment

Bias Awareness and Training

This office conducts training and presentations on a range of topics pertaining to implicit bias, especially customized to STEM fields. These include: Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat; Racial Bias Awareness; Gender Bias in STEM; and others. Sessions last anywhere between 1 - 2 hours. To request a bias training session, email kdutt@ldeo.columbia.edu