Research Topic

Diversifying the STEM Fields: From Individual to Structural Approaches

About this Research Topic

As our planet becomes increasingly connected through scientific, technological, and engineering advances, the academic fields that train the professionals of tomorrow urgently need to address how they will diversify the population of students that earn advanced degrees. The STEM fields, as they are known (encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) face severe gender and racial/ethnic disparities. For example, Asian and White men are disproportionately represented in STEM field. This problem is particularly acute at research-intensive institutions, and worsens the higher students move up the academic ladder towards the Ph.D. and the professoriate.

With an ever-increasing demand for skilled workers in STEM fields, the universities that train scholars in these areas cannot continue to draw principally on this small subset of the world’s population. Homogeneity can stifle creativity, lead to biases in the production of solutions and technological advances (e.g., bias built into artificial intelligence), and widen group-based economic disparities.

In 2018, a group of U.S. based scholars, all funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Program, came together at the University of California, Berkeley, to discuss their ongoing work to recruit, retain, and advance underrepresented and minoritized scholars in STEM fields within their universities.

One purpose of this Research Topic is to bring together the knowledge shared in this conference so that the work may be continued to be built upon in the future. Although we envision an article collection that will be open exclusively to participants of this conference, we ask contributors to adopt an international perspective to their work. Furthermore, the Topic Editors will explicitly address international cases where diversity in STEM fields seems to have taken hold (two examples are the fields of Engineering in China and Mathematics in Poland, where gender disparities seem to be significantly reduced relative to other industrialized nations).

The invited contributors were already vetted and selected out of a much larger pool of submissions for presenting at this exclusive conference, so we can be reasonably confident in the quality of the content that is expected. All authors will be asked to submit manuscripts related to advancing opportunity and broadening participation in the STEM fields, not only asking them to touch on their 2018 presentations but also allowing them to update their findings with any new developments since then. Many of the presentations included original data; as such, the first option will be for scholars to submit Original Research and Research Reports. Some scholars presented reviews of data and would have the option of submitting a Systematic Review. The Topic Editors will oversee reviews of the literature, with at least one piece focusing on an international perspective on diversity in STEM education. We attach the program from the 2018 conference here to provide a helpful guide for the invited authors.


Keywords: diversity, professoriate, equity, STEM, underrepresented minorities, higher education


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

As our planet becomes increasingly connected through scientific, technological, and engineering advances, the academic fields that train the professionals of tomorrow urgently need to address how they will diversify the population of students that earn advanced degrees. The STEM fields, as they are known (encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) face severe gender and racial/ethnic disparities. For example, Asian and White men are disproportionately represented in STEM field. This problem is particularly acute at research-intensive institutions, and worsens the higher students move up the academic ladder towards the Ph.D. and the professoriate.

With an ever-increasing demand for skilled workers in STEM fields, the universities that train scholars in these areas cannot continue to draw principally on this small subset of the world’s population. Homogeneity can stifle creativity, lead to biases in the production of solutions and technological advances (e.g., bias built into artificial intelligence), and widen group-based economic disparities.

In 2018, a group of U.S. based scholars, all funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Program, came together at the University of California, Berkeley, to discuss their ongoing work to recruit, retain, and advance underrepresented and minoritized scholars in STEM fields within their universities.

One purpose of this Research Topic is to bring together the knowledge shared in this conference so that the work may be continued to be built upon in the future. Although we envision an article collection that will be open exclusively to participants of this conference, we ask contributors to adopt an international perspective to their work. Furthermore, the Topic Editors will explicitly address international cases where diversity in STEM fields seems to have taken hold (two examples are the fields of Engineering in China and Mathematics in Poland, where gender disparities seem to be significantly reduced relative to other industrialized nations).

The invited contributors were already vetted and selected out of a much larger pool of submissions for presenting at this exclusive conference, so we can be reasonably confident in the quality of the content that is expected. All authors will be asked to submit manuscripts related to advancing opportunity and broadening participation in the STEM fields, not only asking them to touch on their 2018 presentations but also allowing them to update their findings with any new developments since then. Many of the presentations included original data; as such, the first option will be for scholars to submit Original Research and Research Reports. Some scholars presented reviews of data and would have the option of submitting a Systematic Review. The Topic Editors will oversee reviews of the literature, with at least one piece focusing on an international perspective on diversity in STEM education. We attach the program from the 2018 conference here to provide a helpful guide for the invited authors.


Keywords: diversity, professoriate, equity, STEM, underrepresented minorities, higher education


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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