Washington Update

Diversity and Inclusion Conversation with Dr. Shirley Malcom

By: Teresa Ramírez
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Promoting an inclusive and diverse workforce in the biological and biomedical sciences is a core goal for FASEB, working in collaboration with its 29 member societies. On February 7, the American Society of Human Genetics and FASEB co-hosted a staff conversation focused on diversity and inclusion issues, featuring a keynote by Shirley Malcom, PhD, Head of Education and Human Resources Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The recipient of 13 honorary degrees, Dr. Malcom previously served as a Science Education Directorate program officer at the National Science Foundation. Throughout her lecture, “What Difference Does Difference Make?” she used personal experiences as a Black woman scientist as a lens: she was the only African American in her graduating class at the University of Washington to attain a zoology degree.

Dr. Malcom spoke of the need for more diverse faculty and women in science. She and her AAAS colleagues developed the STEM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change program as a means for colleges and universities to attract, retain, and advance underrepresented minorities, women, and people with disabilities. SEA Change focuses on structural barrier removal for affected populations, employing an institutional certification model.

Vence Bonham, Jr., JD, introduced Dr. Malcom. He is associate investigator and senior advisor to the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Bonham leads the Health Disparities Unit, which conducts research at the intersection of public policy, health care inequities, and genomics.

FASEB launched the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, a board-level body, in 2018 to address these challenges in the biomedical and biological science communities. The task force is actively deliberating and will release a strategic plan later this year.