In supporting research, we at the Sloan Foundation are deeply concerned with the health of the communities that conduct it. A profound challenge to that health is the historical exclusion from scientific institutions of women, Blacks, Latinos/as, and members of Indigenous communities, and the discrimination and disadvantage these scientists have long faced. Inclusion, equity, and diversity in STEM are a matter of fundamental justice. Moreover, discrimination and exclusion, by suppressing the contributions of so many talented people, keeps some of the best research from being done at all.
A commitment to racial and gender equity has deep roots at Sloan. In the 1950s and 1960s, Alfred P. Sloan himself made major grants to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the United Negro College Fund. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Foundation continued this tradition with major grant programs aimed at increasing racial equity in academic training programs in public administration, engineering, and medicine. But while our commitment to equity in science has been longstanding, it is incumbent upon us now to make that commitment explicit and public.
The mission of the Sloan Foundation is to make the world a better place by advancing the frontiers of knowledge. We pledge to pursue that mission in ways that make the institutions of scientific endeavor more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive to all.
In pursuit of this commitment to full and equitable participation in STEM, we at Sloan actively seek out grant applicants who are members of groups that are underrepresented in their fields; we cultivate diversity among the institutions that receive Foundation support, with particular attention to increasing our engagement with Minority Serving Institutions; we require all Foundation-supported projects to be structured inclusively; and we make significant grants that directly address issues of representation, diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.
At the same time, we emphasize that we do not have all the answers. We recognize that our efforts to promote equity and inclusion will sometimes fall short of what they could or should be. What we can do is pledge to continuously improve, to seek honest feedback even—and especially—when it’s hard to hear, to engage in critical self-reflection, to attend to our own institutional culture, and most importantly, to listen to Black, Latino/a, Indigenous and women’s voices.
Bringing about full and equitable participation in STEM cannot be the work of just one or a few isolated institutions. It must be the work of all of us. The tangible progress being made by hardworking, dedicated advocates inspires and empowers us at Sloan, and we look forward with enthusiasm to working with those both inside and outside academia—educators, administrators, students, policymakers, funders, anyone—in efforts to realize our common vision: a scientific community that is more humane, more inclusive, and more just.