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

“From Classroom to Career: Building a Culture of Access for Geoscientists with Disabilities” is an NSF funded project (Award #2228095) that explores the experiences of d/Disabled people who are, or were, in the geoscience workforce. 

Research Team: Anita Marshall,  Jenifer Piatek, Elizabeth Sibert, Shirley Jackson, Michele Cooke, Cinzia Cervato, Samuel Nyarko, & project evaluator Akilah Alwan.

Organizations involved: The IAGD and The Mind Hears.

What is this study?

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. 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. 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 and are working towards lasting changes towards a more inclusive discipline.

Access barriers can impact anyone, but 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 the experiences of geoscientists with disabilities and re-imagine what our teaching, work, field, and lab spaces would looked like, if they were inclusive of and DESIGNED by disabled Geoscientists.

This Planning Grant addresses the experiences of people with disabilities in the geoscience workforce in a systematic way, to identify barriers and successes, and how d/Disabled geoscientists are shaping our discipline. We will do this by soliciting input from – and building community with – disabled geoscientists from diverse backgrounds, all career stages, and work sectors. 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 Focus Groups!

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 voiceWe 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!). Focus groups will take place in July/Aug/Sep of 2023.

You can get on the list of focus group participants by signing up here: https://forms.gle/2a4EPmFjWpb8FaB57

Participate in Surveys

We will use the focus group results to design a survey that can be deployed to the broader community. The survey should be available late in 2023.

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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©2024 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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