Increasing Inclusion and Equity of Minoritized STEM Faculty: Examining the Role of Epistemic Exclusion in Scholar(ly) Evaluation Practices
Effective Years: 2023-2028
The proposed project examines whether and how epistemic exclusion, a form of scholarly devaluation, is a barrier to the full inclusion and participation of women faculty and faculty of color in STEM. Epistemic exclusion occurs when disciplinary biases defining what STEM scholarship is valued are coupled with negative stereotypes about productivity and commitment of individuals based on their social identities to produce unfair evaluation processes. Because many faculty career outcomes (such as hiring, tenure, promotion, and leadership opportunities) are determined by research productivity metrics, research evaluation biases can impact interest, retention, and success in STEM research careers. The focus on scholarly work as a site of devaluation extends prior work on interpersonal forms of exclusion (e.g., social exclusion) in STEM education and research contexts. This knowledge is important for informing the development of individual and systemic level interventions to broaden participation in STEM.
The study will: 1) examine whether the level of epistemic exclusion among STEM faculty varies depending on scholars’ identities and career stage; 2) determine how experiences of epistemic exclusion affect STEM faculty careers; and 3) examine how consequences of epistemic exclusion vary depending on STEM scholars’ identities and career stage. This project will survey of 1800 tenure track STEM faculty at U.S. R1 and R2 universities nationally and hold focus groups of a subsample surveyed. The focus groups will explore how epistemic exclusion is uniquely experienced, understood, and impactful by career stage (early, mid, senior). This work builds on prior work by the research team that developed and validated the Faculty Epistemic Exclusion (FEE) Scale. This research will make significant intellectual contributions including the exploration of a new area of study for researchers interested in issues of fairness and inclusion in STEM education and research environments.
This project is supported by NSF's EHR Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad, and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. The program supports the accumulation of robust evidence to inform efforts to understand, build theory to explain, and suggest intervention and innovations to address persistent challenges in education.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.