Diversity and Inclusion

The grand challenge for U.S. science is to maximize scientific impact by building and sustaining a workforce that fully reflects the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of our nation. In 2021, HHMI expanded its commitment to advance inclusion at key stages all along the academic developmental pathway – from undergraduate and post-baccalaureate through graduate, postdoctoral and early career, all the way to tenure-track and tenured faculty. At each stage, we support strategies – such as professional development, training faculty in culturally aware mentorship, and building community – that prioritize equity and inclusion and make it possible to sustain diversity.

Statement from the Inclusive Learning Group

HHMI Gilliam Fellows during 2017 meeting

Diversity is essential for excellence

At HHMI, we believe that a diverse group of problem solvers is better positioned to find innovative solutions to complex challenges in science. The more difficult the problem, the greater the benefit of diversity in finding the solution.1 An organization committed to science excellence encourages and enables a diverse community to seek creative strategies to solve difficult scientific problems.

Dimensions of diversity

Diversity can be measured in many different ways. Every person has an identity that contributes to the diversity of a group, and there is no hierarchy of importance of these different personal identities. However, there are some dimensions of identity for which we are far from parity, and it is important to close the gaps so that we may benefit from the entire talent pool. In U.S. science, those dimensions include race and ethnicity, gender, and disability status. Working towards parity in each of these dimensions requires specific strategies and ways to measure progress.

Inclusive Learning Group team

Inclusion is necessary to reap the benefits of diversity

Strategies that address barriers to participation should not only increase the numbers of persons in science who belong to underrepresented groups, but also work to ensure that they are empowered and expected to succeed in science and assume leadership roles in the scientific community. Only then can the full value of diversity be realized. The responsibility for creating an inclusive environment rests on the current leaders of the scientific community, including the principal investigators, the faculty, and the advisers of the trainees.

How we support diversity and inclusion in science

The Inclusive Learning Group programs support individuals and institutions that aspire to improve their capacity for inclusion and that work to develop scientists from all backgrounds, especially those who belong to groups currently underrepresented in science. Examples of our initiatives are below.

Inclusive ExcellenceThis initiative emphasizes the responsibility of colleges and universities to significantly and sustainably increase their capacity for inclusion of all students in science, especially those who come from groups currently underrepresented in science. The program provides institutional grants to support activities that will change the way schools and their faculty engage with their students. Read more >
Driving Change

The goal of Driving Change is to effect genuine and lasting culture change on research university campuses so that undergraduate students from all backgrounds, particularly those who belong to historically excluded groups, will excel in STEM and graduate from college well prepared to pursue advanced degrees and eventually assume leadership roles in STEM. Read more >

Gilliam FellowsThis initiative supports exceptional graduate students and their dissertation advisers. The program’s goal is to advance diversity and inclusion in the scientific community by developing scientists who will assume leadership roles in science, particularly as college and university faculty. An important component of the program is a year-long series of activities to improve the mentoring skills of the advisers. Read more >
Science Education AllianceThe SEA-PHAGES project is an inclusive research and educational community.2 This program encourages faculty to provide meaningful, discovery-based research experiences, at scale, for beginning undergraduates. In the past ten years, the SEA has worked with faculty at more than 120 colleges and universities who have engaged tens of thousands of students in research. Read more >
Meyerhoff Adaptation ProjectHHMI is working with research universities to learn, through careful assessment, how a school can adapt the UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars Program to achieve similar results. In particular, we hope to learn how each of the Meyerhoff programmatic components leads to institutional change, and what a school needs to do to be ready to adapt and adopt a program that has been successful elsewhere. Read more >

1 S.E. Page, 2007. The Difference, Princeton University Press
2 iREC, see Hanauer et al., 2017, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 114: 13531-13536