Charge to the Workshop

Executive Summary

Part I: The STEM Workforce: Establishing the Need for Change

Under-Representation as a Social Justice Issue

Current Lack of Diversity and Opportunity

Part II: The STEM Pathways Workshop: Describing the Change

Broad Issues Related to the STEM Workforce

From Successful Programs to Large-Scale Change

The Contributions of

An Action Plan

Part III: Conclusion: Toward a New Vision for the Enterprise of Science


Appendix: Workshop Attendees


Part III
Conclusion: Toward a New Vision for the Enterprise of Science

Multiple conversations were going on at the workshop. Some were addressing the human resource issues such as educational experiences, demographics and socialization of females and minorities. Others were addressing the changing dynamics of the workforce and the skills needed to enter it. Others were focusing on the educational pathways and how to keep students engaged in STEM topics all along the way. Still others were looking at the problem through the lens of science, the perceptions of what is “real” science, who has the capacity to do research, and how a peer review process leading to funded programs encourages status quo. What emerged was a complex picture of the many factors that need to be addressed simultaneously if real and enduring change is to take place (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Change requires an integrated view of people, institutions, programs, research and science.

At the beginning of the workshop, the participants were asked to go beyond considering ways to accelerate the progress of existing and proposed programs. They also were asked to identify paradigm shifts that might enable funding agencies, academia, industry, and the broader society to consider the problem of broadening participation in STEM careers in new and different ways. In considering these more fundamental and wide-ranging changes, workshop participants focused on the difference between building capacity and realizing capability. For example, the National Science Foundation has defined its goals to be the development of People, Ideas and Tools as they all relate to the scientific enterprise, broadly defined. Typically, people in the STEM workforce are viewed as instruments for building and supporting the research enterprise.
Many workshop participants agreed on the necessity to redefine this model, so that the focus of the enterprise is people, and the STEM disciplines are instruments for promoting the health and economic welfare of all people. Ideas and tools are deployed for the full realization of the potential of all people, who in turn generate more diverse and better ideas and tools. Seen in this light, the internal dynamics of the research process are an integral part of the conduct of science, not an afterthought. It became clear that some groups will need more resources and support than others all along the multiple STEM pathways in order to enjoy full participation in the workforce of the future. In the past, the United States has neglected to engage all sectors of its population in the conduct of science (Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, 2002). The workshop strongly recommends that policy makers encourage the development of a network of pathways that allows students from diverse backgrounds to achieve success in a range of roles, such as researcher, educator, evaluator, industry leader, or entrepreneur.

Realizing the capability of all its citizens requires that the nation’s policy makers view the development of human resources as inseparable from the goal of expanding the research frontier. Developing people to their full intellectual potential and developing a vibrant science and engineering enterprise should be seen as a synergistic, two-way relationship, with both aspects being of equal importance and dependent upon each other for success.