Equity in Science:
Representation, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change in Graduate Education
Stanford University Press, 2020, 240 pp., Paperback. $28.00. www.sup.org
STEM disciplines are believed to be founded on the idea of meritocracy — recognition earned by the value of the data, which is objective. Such disciplinary cultures resist concerns about implicit or structural biases, and yet year after year, scientists observe persistent gender and racial inequalities in their labs, departments, and programs. In Equity in Science, the author makes the case that understanding how field-specific cultures develop is a crucial step for bringing about real change. She does this by examining existing equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts across astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, and psychology. These ethnographic case studies reveal the subtle ways that exclusion and power operate in scientific organizations and sometimes within change efforts themselves. Posselt argues that accelerating the movement for inclusion in science requires more effective collaboration across boundaries that typically separate people and scholars — across the social and natural sciences; across the faculty-student-administrator roles; and across race, gender, and other social identities. Ultimately this book is a call for academia to place equal value on expertise and on those who do the work of cultural translation. Posselt closes with targeted recommendations for individuals, departments, and disciplinary societies for creating systemic, sustainable change.