Broadening Participation: Developing STEM Community Metrics

Areas of Interest:

Diversity, Education

Project Type:

Non-FACA Study, Conference

Latest Update: January 5, 2016
CASEE, with NSF support (via grant DRL-0643048), convened a workshop consisting of individuals broadly representative of NSF’s grantee communities to discuss possible metrics by which NSF could judge how well prospective grantees meet the criterion of Broadening Participation.
Primary Contact: Beth Cady

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long advocated increased diversity among its grantees, in particular through the Broader Impacts Criterion for grant proposals that looks at the impact of NSF support for research on education and on NSF support for both research and education on such things as

  1. advancing public understanding of science and engineering
  2. advancing learning
  3. increasing the participation in the science and engineering enterprise of underrepresented populations, and
  4. enhancing the infrastructure for research and education.

Despite this philosophy, few metrics by which to gauge grantees’ progress in broadening participation exist. Included within the suite of possible responses to the Broader Impacts Criterion of the NSF Merit Review Criteria are those activities that advance the goal of  increasing the participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) by those individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in NSF fields (e.g., women, minorities, and persons with disabilities)  and/or institutions that are underrepresented as recipients of NSF grants (e.g., community colleges, minority serving institutions, baccalaureate colleges, and other non-research institutions).

Although NSF provides examples of such activities, there is currently no method by which to gauge grantee attention to the Broader Impacts Criterion or the success of such efforts when they are asserted. To provide suggestions of possible metrics, CASEE, with NSF support (via grant DRL-0643048), convened a workshop consisting of individuals broadly representative of NSF’s grantee communities. The group suggested that, at a minimum, grantee institutions should provide both their existing affirmative action plans as well as specific information on collaborations with underrepresented institutions. In addition, the working group provided a list of other metrics that PIs could voluntarily offer as support for claims of broadening participation of both individuals from underrepresented populations and individuals from institutions that have not traditionally participated in funded research.

The results from the workshop are discussed in an article in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

Project Status
Project Sponsor

National Science Foundation