Last Thursday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted the third “The Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science & Technology” roundtable.

The session, entitled “Emerging Models and Pathways for Success I: Institutional and Academic Contexts,” focused on learning from successful approaches to increasing equitable participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields through institutional programming, partnerships, and direct engagement with underrepresented communities at a variety of career stages, geographic locations, and functional abilities.

The goal of this roundtable was to explore the evidence-based techniques that participants used to evaluate the success and efficacy of their programs and discuss insights they gained in carrying out this work.

During this meeting, OSTP Director, Eric Lander, and OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society, Alondra Nelson, engaged with the participants about their experiences building successful programs that advance STEM equity and removing barriers to participation, discussed lessons learned that have helped improve their programs over time, as well as the data, metrics, and evaluation practices that they use to measure success towards advancing equity.

Participants discussed the necessity of quantitative data in assessing the effectiveness of their programming, while emphasizing that a complete assessment of the barriers facing marginalized communities also requires qualitative data, including consideration of cultural contexts, and the impact of social climate on a diverse population of STEM learners. They noted steps that organizations can take to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields including creating educational experiences that are captivating to a wide variety of learners, providing multiple entry points to instruction with no assumption of previous experiences, and substantively including families and other members of students’ support systems in STEM activities and events to increase participation of learners and their loved ones.

The adaptation and dissemination of these promising practices such as these will bring us closer to a STEM ecosystem that reflects the full diversity of the American people, thus spurring innovation, and increasing economic benefit for historically underrepresented groups and the entire Nation.

This was the third session of OSTP’s “The Time is Now” series. This five-part series is designed to foster candid and robust conversation with researchers, thought leaders, and advocates on themes related to STEM equity, and to gather valuable feedback that can assist OSTP in assuring that our national STEM ecosystem is preeminent, equitable, and inclusive. More information about our previous roundtables, in honor of Disability Pride Month, and on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism in STEM, can be found in their respective readouts, here and here.

If you have ideas on advancing STEM equity, please email us at equity@ostp.eop.gov.

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