GEO Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity (GOLD): Hearts of GOLD

Geosciences currently trails other STEM fields in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, and people with disabilities. In 2012, of 737 doctoral degrees awarded in the earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences, 319 were awarded to women, and only 35 were awarded to Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska-native students, combined. Substantial evidence exists to demonstrate the vital role that diversity plays in increasing innovation and creativity and increasing the quality of science, as measured by publication in high-impact journals and citation rates. By failing to recruit and retain diverse students, staff, and faculty in our field, we are losing the potential to create our best, most innovative science. Much of the shortcomings in recruiting and retaining minorities in geosciences seem to be related to the difficult social environments that these groups face in our disciplines classrooms and workplaces.

We propose to develop and test a new professional development training for established scientific leaders in the geosciences, the GOLD Institute, designed to spark cognitive dissonance, and begin the process of personal reflection and change needed to transform existing leaders into champions for diversity. By targeting senior scientists who are already well-respected in the field, our project capitalizes on their reputations, networks, and social capital to build them into diversity champions with the power to make significant and swift cultural change in their institutions and the wider field. This proposal provides them with the training necessary to institute equitable recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices, and tackle ?chilly? and hostile climates. Nominations will be solicited throughout the geosciences several months prior to the GOLD Institute. Participants will be selected on the basis of scientific and/or educational expertise, potential to broaden participation in the geosciences, and other characteristics that exemplify effective leadership skills and behaviors. Selection for one of the GOLD Institutes is an acknowledgment that these individuals have established greater purpose and value in their work and are committed to a legacy of diversity and inclusion for the entire geosciences community.

  • Focus: Faculty
  • Funder: National Science Foundation
  • Team: P. Grady Dixon (Principal Investigator), Kathleen Quardokus Fisher (Co-Principal Investigator), LaToya Myles (Co-Principal Investigator), Denise Simmons (Co-Principal Investigator), Eric Kaufman (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Contact: Kathleen Quardokus Fisher (, Department of Earth and Environment