New NSF funding launches second stage of ADVANCEGeo to transform workplace climate

published Sep 15, 2022 8:30am

The National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program has funded a $1.2 million collaborative grant to expand on the successful work of the ADVANCEGeo Partnership, first funded by a 2017 ADVANCE award, to reduce the harms from identity-based harassment, bullying, and other hostile and exclusionary behaviors that contribute to low diversity in the earth and space sciences and other STEM disciplines. The ADVANCEGeo program aims to catalyze behavioral and cultural change through interventions at the individual and collective level, including bystander intervention education, and organizationally through the development of ethical codes of conduct that frame harassment, bullying, and discrimination as scientific misconduct.

The new award will support development of a workplace climate intervention program for academic STEM departments and training programs to equip individuals and teams with the skills to self-reflect on how identity and positionality influence lived experiences during career trajectories, perceptions of workplace climate, responsibility, and accountability; recognize hostile and exclusionary behaviors when they occur; implement interventions to interrupt these behaviors and reduce their harm; provide intentional support to individuals harmed and attend to how these incidences affect relationships and trust in the scientific community; and design, implement, and reevaluate practices and policies to build inclusive, thriving workplace environments. In addition to developing new content, a major focus of the grant will be building up a train-the-trainers program, including providing anti-racism and trauma-informed care education, to more effectively engage and support a national team of academic and scientific leaders in work to transform departments and organizations.

Funded in 2017 to address sexual harassment in the earth and space sciences, ADVANCEGeo has expanded its capacity to address a range of exclusionary and discriminatory behaviors to better address observed demographic trends in STEM. While hostile workplaces have disproportionate impacts on historically excluded groups, everyone in STEM benefits from thriving, inclusive, safe, just and equitable research and educational environments. To date, ADVANCEGeo has offered trainings to over 2,000 individuals with a dedicated multidisciplinary team of trainers and created a public resources website hosted by the Science Education Research Center at Carleton College summarizing social science research and identifying strategies for responding to hostile behaviors and building inclusive research environments, including in fieldwork settings, etc. The research team has also documented greater frequencies of hostile behaviors for groups persistently excluded from the geosciences and ecological sciences. These same groups reported being more likely to leave their institutions or their disciplines altogether, with implications for retention.

The geosciences provide a unique model to study the effectiveness of workplace climate interventions that center intersectionality. A strong tradition of field-based training accentuates how stereotypes of (geo)scientists as able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual white men contribute to exclusionary and discriminatory learning and working environments. Strongly gendered, racialized, and ableist organizational practices create barriers to career advancement and retention in the profession. The geosciences are inherently interdisciplinary, spanning the biological, chemical, physical, and computational sciences, thus efforts to transform workplace climate developed within the geosciences can be adapted to other STEM disciplines.

The ADVANCEGeo Partnership principal investigators (PIs) are: Erika Marín-Spiotta (UW-Madison), Blair Schneider (University of Kansas), Jessica Blois (University of California, Merced), Melissa Burt (Colorado State University), Meredith Hastings (Brown University), Sora Kim (University of California, Merced), Allison Mattheis (California State University, Los Angeles), and Billy Williams (American Geophysical Union). Program evaluation is being conducted by Christine Bell at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and Julie Maertens at Colorado State University STEM Center.

The ADVANCEGeo team welcomes three new co-PIs: Drs. Melissa Burt, Sora Kim, and Jessica Blois. The team recognizes the invaluable contributions of former co-PIs Dr. Rebecca Barnes, who is currently an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Technology Policy Fellow with the National Science Foundation in the Geosciences directorate, and Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, who is currently serving as the Director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science in Washington, D.C.

New collaborations include three NSF-funded awards: INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN), INCLUDES Aspire Alliance, and NRT CONDESA: Convergence of Nano-engineered Devices for Environmental and Sustainability Applications; as well as a University of California-HBCU Collaborative training grant: Boosting Representation of African Americans in the Geosciences (BRAAG).

ADVANCEGeo is excited to work on this project with our growing network of society and community partners: American Geophysical Union (AGU), Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG), Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN), Geological Society of America (GSA), American Meteorological Society (AMS), Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Office, BlackInGeoscience (BiG) Network, GeoLatinas (Latinas in Earth and Planetary Sciences), Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Geosciences (AAPIiG), Society of Latinx/Hispanics in Earth and Space Science (SOLESS), and 500 Women Scientists (500WS). Partners will receive support to participate in the train the trainers program.

Award title: ADVANCE Partnership: Empowering scientists to transform workplace climate through the ADVANCEGeo community-based intervention program

Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation Division of Human Resource Development ADVANCE program: Awards 2204305, 2203917, 2204022, 2204073, 2204361, 2204431.

For more information, please contact: Erika Marín-Spiotta