APS Joins Multi-Society Effort in Urging Trump Administration to Rescind Elimination of Federal DEI Training Programs

October 7, 2020

Mr. Russell Vought, Director
Office of Management and Budget
Executive Office of the President
Washington, DC 20503

Mr. Vought:

The undersigned scientific societies strongly urge the Administration to rescind its elimination of federal employee training programs related to diversity, equity and inclusion as specified in the Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies issued September 4th, 2020 and the September 22nd Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping. These executive actions run counter to current efforts by federal agencies, contractors and grantees to foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment and are detrimental to efforts to address discrimination based on race or gender identity.

Federal employees, contractors and recipients of federal grants are at the core of the U.S. research and development (R&D) ecosystem, and they play a crucial role in creating a diverse scientific workforce. While there has been progress, the participation of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. scientific and technical workforce does not reflect the diversity of our population.1 Their underrepresentation negatively impacts the U.S. R&D enterprise by depriving it of diverse perspectives that are shown to boost innovation and productivity.2,3 In many scientific fields, this lack of diversity cannot be solely attributed to inequities in education or the workforce pipeline4 – the scientific, technical, engineering and math (STEM) community must also confront systemic discrimination and racism. For example, it has been shown that, historically, the percentage of federal grants awarded to minority scientists has been lower than their white peers largely due to underlying biases.5

Research shows that there are systemic and cultural aspects of the current R&D ecosystem which negatively contribute to an inclusive and productive career environment.3,4,6 However, specific actions have been identified to address them, including the implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) trainings using an evidence-based approach.4,6,7 Such trainings help employees become more aware of barriers to increased diversity, motivate positive behaviors and attitudes, and improve cognitive skills.3,7,8

The September 4th memorandum and September 22nd Executive Order do a disservice to our community and research itself by wrongfully linking DEI trainings to the notion that anyone is inherently racist or sexist. While evidence-based DEI trainings are not impacted by these actions, wrongfully insinuating that DEI trainings are inherently anti-American sends a message of division, intolerance and subjectivity that is damaging to our R&D community.

We urge you to rescind these executive actions to help create and sustain a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and productive scientific community. A thriving scientific enterprise makes our nation stronger which in turn will drive a quicker recovery from COVID-19 and secure a healthy and prosperous future for all Americans. Please let us know if we can help with any additional information or ideas.


  1. American Anthropological Association
  2. American Association for Anatomy
  3. American Association for Dental Research
  4. American Association for the Advancement of Science
  5. American Association of Immunologists
  6. American Association of Physicists in Medicine
  7. American Association of Physics Teachers
  8. American Astronomical Society
  9. American Chemical Society
  10. American Educational Research Association
  11. American Indian Science and Engineering Society
  12. American Institute of Physics
  13. American Meteorological Society
  14. American Physical Society
  15. American Political Science Association
  16. American Society for Gravitational and Space Research
  17. American Society for Microbiology
  18. American Society for Nutrition
  19. American Society of Agronomy
  20. American Society of Human Genetics
  21. American Society of Plant Biologists
  22. American Society of Plant Taxonomists
  23. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  24. American Thoracic Society
  25. Association of Population Centers
  26. AVS - The Society for Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing
  27. Biophysical Society
  28. Botanical Society of America
  29. Council on Undergraduate Research
  30. Crop Science Society of America
  31. Ecological Society of America
  32. Endocrine Society
  33. Entomological Society of America
  34. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
  35. Materials Research Society
  36. National Communication Association
  38. OSA-The Optical Society
  39. Population Association of America
  40. Seismological Society of America
  41. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
  42. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  43. Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  44. Society for Research in Child Development
  45. Society for the Study of Reproduction
  46. Society of Toxicology
  47. Soil Science Society of America
  48. The American Crystallographic Association
  49. The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society
  50. WiBBE

1 National Science Board, National Science Foundation. 2020. Science and Engineering Indicators 2020: The State of the U.S. Science & Engineering. NSB-2020-1. Alexandria, VA. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsb20201/u-s-s-e-workforce.

2 Bowman, N. A., Denson, N., & Park, J. J. (2016). Racial/cultural awareness workshops and post-college civic engagement: A propensity score matching approach. American Educational Research Journal, 53(6), 1556-1587.

3 National Institutes of Health, Bibliography of Diversity Research Articles. Available at https://diversity.nih.gov/find-read-learn/diversity-research articles

4National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25585.

5Ginther, Donna K., et al., Science, “Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards,” 19 Aug 2011: Vol. 333, Issue 6045, pp. 1015-1019. DOI: 10.1126/science.1196783; Hoppe, Travis A., et al., “Topic choice contributes to the lower rate of NIH awards to African-American/black scientists,” Science Advances, 09 Oct 2019: Vol. 5, no. 10, eaaw7238. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7238

6 American Institute of Physics. 2020. The Time is Now: Systemic Changes to Increase African Americans with Bachelor’s Degrees in Physics and Astronomy. College Park, MD: American Institute of Physics.

7 Pfund, Christine, et. al., Building National Capacity for Research Mentor Training: An Evidence-Based Approach to Training the Trainers CBE—Life Sciences Education 2015 14:2 10.1187/cbe.14-10-0184

8 Chang, M. J., Denson, N., Saenz, V., & Misa, K. (2006). The educational benefits of sustaining cross-racial interaction among undergraduates. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(3), 430-455.

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