How to Build a More Diverse Workforce in the Geosciences

Paul Joyce, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA, United States, Paulinus Chigbu, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Natural Sciences, Princess Anne, MD, United States, Ambrose Jearld Jr, National Technical Association, Falmouth, MA, United States, Hauke Kite-Powell, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States, George Liles, NOAA-Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA, United States and Kevin Chu, SEA Education Association, Falmouth, United States
How do we build a more diverse and inclusive workforce in the geosciences? A workshop was held in June 2019 in Woods Hole, MA, to discuss this issue. It brought together former interns, administrators of research internship programs, and the directors of scientific organizations to share perspectives on how to make research internships more effective in encouraging members of under-represented minorities to follow careers in the geosciences.

Key points raised during this Workshop are:

  • A well-structured research internship can be an effective way to increase diversity in the geosciences. For many of the former students who attended the Workshop, the research internship was a turning point in their lives and the point at which they decided to become a scientist.
  • Minority students who have chosen to pursue a career in the geosciences still often feel isolated and uncomfortable on predominantly white campuses. Virtually all minority students reported being subjected to acts of discrimination, even when an institution was making substantial efforts to be inclusive.
  • Some of the most basic challenges faced by minority students may not be obvious to a person who grew up in the mainstream culture.
  • Institutions need to address the needs of minorities on campus, but also need to help majority staff members understand, welcome and feel comfortable with new members from different backgrounds.