A yellow road sign on a winding desert road says "Old ways won't open new doors"

The recently-funded Culture Change in the Geosciences Planning Grant (NSF Award #2228095) explores the experiences of geoscientists in the workforce and will begin in January of 2023. Watch this space for more info coming soon from our project, “From Classroom to Career: Building a Culture of Access for Geoscientists with Disabilities”

Research Team: Anita Marshall,  Jenifer Piatek, Elisabeth Sibert, Michele Cooke, Cinzia Cervato & Shirley Jackson.

Project Summary

The perception of disability as a barrier to a successful career within academia as a whole and geosciences in particular, discourages many people with disabilities from starting or staying in geoscience degree programs (Marshall & Thatcher, 2019; Atchison & Libarkin, 2016; Hall et. al, 2004). In addition, those disabled individuals who do finish a degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine (STEMM) discipline have a significantly higher unemployment and underemployed rates than their non-disabled peers with similar credentials (NCSES, 2021). Today’s early career geoscientists, born after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, represent a new demographic, sometimes referred to as the ‘ADA generation’. The ADA generation doesn’t just hope for accessible learning and work conditions, they expect it (e.g., Kimball et al., 2016; Forber-Pratt, 2019). Further, as more individuals are living with disabilities acquired through accident, age, or illness, fostering a workspace that supports access and contributions from disabled individuals improves diversity and benefits everyone (see Kingsbury et al, 2020). There is also a compelling need to examine the biases and racism within the Disabled identity. While access barriers impact us all, racism compounds the biases faced by disabled BIPOC individuals (e.g. Garcia, 2019), yet little is known (outside of anecdotal evidence) about how that impacts students and career professionals in the geosciences. Until we can change the prevailing culture of inaccessibility and normalize the support and success of disabled geoscientists, we will continue to exclude many qualified and capable individuals from geoscience careers.

This project will Explore and RE-Imagine what our Teaching, Work, Field, and Lab spaces would looked like, If DESIGNED by disabled Geoscientists.

This Planning Grant addresses these issues in a systematic way, with initiatives to identify and characterize the experiences of people with disabilities in geoscience career paths, both the significant barriers and successes. We will do this by soliciting input from – and building community with – disabled geoscientists from diverse backgrounds, all career stages, and work sectors. This information will be used to strategize specific initiatives that could address those barriers. By drawing on the diverse academic experiences and life paths of disabled geoscientists, as well as those who began their training and careers in geosciences but changed fields due to inaccessibility or other barriers, we can transform anecdotes and individual advocacy into cultural change throughout the geosciences community.

How to get involved

Participate in our Survey

We will be rolling out a survey in the spring of 2023. If you are part of the geoscience workforce (students included!) – or have left the geoscience workforce – and identify as d/Disabled, we need to hear your voice! We are particularly interested in hearing the voices of folks who were trained in geosciences and/or worked in a geoscience career track before leaving the geoscience workforce – if you ever identified as a geoscientist, we want to hear from you (and we believe that you can always identify as a geoscientist even if you are not working in the geoscience field at this time!)

Attend our Workshop in 2024

We will be hosting a hybrid workshop in conjunction with GSA Connects 2024 that brings together geoscience career professionals with disabilities, disability advocates, researchers, and policy makers to address the outcomes of the survey, and outline a way forward to a more disability-inclusive profession. 

Receive updates about the Project

If you would like to be kept up-to-date on this project and be notified via email when participation opportunities arise, please fill out this google form: https://forms.gle/11HnnKhWo5S1aLpy8 

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©2023 IAGD. The IAGD is a 501c3, volunteer-driven, non-profit organization.

Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0939645. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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