Jan 27, 2023
Accounts of chemical research
ConspectusWe introduce the term discipline-based diversity research (DBDR) to capture the emerging field of research advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging with specificity to a given discipline. Contextualizing a human dynamic through a disciplinary lens has already given rise to discipline-based education research (DBER). The modalities through which students and practitioners think and process information are a reflection of a given discipline, and it tends to give rise to its professional practices. Through DBER, such specification is necessary in addressing evidence-based practices that are effective for teaching a particular subject. Likewise, the inequities and opportunities within a given field (and its professional culture) must be addressed within a disciplinary lens. Thus, the findings from social science in diversity in arbitrary contexts must be analyzed, interpreted, applied, and researched within a given discipline.One specific challenge to academic chemistry is the lack of inclusion in the sense that the faculties in research-active chemistry departments are far from diverse. We recapitulate the percentage of women and under-represented person of color (URPOC) professors over the past 20 years reported by us and other sources. The data admits to linear fits with high confidence. Assuming this linearity holds, the gender gap in representation would be bridged only in 2062, and the threshold of 20% of the faculty as URPOC would be reached only in 2113. While the community has actively engaged in modifying practices and procedures to redress this grim projection, it should be clear that more needs to be done.Toward this objective, we have been driven by the top-down hypothesis that solutions must be led intentionally through the top─that is, by department heads and chairs─because they are the stewards of the infrastructure. Department chairs and the chemistry community have engaged in DBDR through biennial workshops─that is, through the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE)'s National Diversity Equity Workshops (NDEWs)─to survey and evaluate existing policies and practices aimed at advancing inclusive excellence. This has led to research-based recommendations for the implementation of solutions in chemistry departments. This includes (i) engaging in community, (ii) conducting authentic and open searches, and (iii) recognizing and rewarding inclusive excellence. What makes them DBDR in chemistry is that we have to articulate and contextualize these solutions in terms of practices and procedures that we conduct in chemistry, assess their efficacy, and promote them across our discipline. Furthermore, we must offer theories of change for reforming them while offering frameworks that fit within how chemists think and practice.In this Account, we demonstrate how DBDR has taken root in chemistry, forecast where this emerging field may go, and provide a blueprint for how it might be replicated in other disciplines.