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Exploring identities within our community

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Diverse backgrounds, diverse experiences

Our Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability Celebrates interview series illuminates how our many identities intersect with our work in the geosciences. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Asian American Pacific Islander, women, and other groups among faculty, staff, students, and alumni share their experiences.


What does it mean to be Black in the geosciences?

Alexis Wilson, presenting during the 2017 SURGE symposium.

Black Americans breathe about 20% more harmful particles than white residents do, and are 2.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people in the U.S. Black communities are on the frontlines of global disasters, so why aren’t there more Black geoscientists?

What role do religion/spirituality play in scientific pursuits?

Fatemeh Rassouli, MS ’15 PhD ’17, completed a postdoc under advisement of Professor Mark Zoback in 2020

About 20% of U.S. adults reject the basic idea of evolution and many only accept it as an instrument of God’s will. If 84% of the world’s population is religious, then it may be time to rethink the relationship between climate science and religion.

How does Indigeneity intersect with the geosciences?

Rock Eagle Effigy Mound is an archaeological site in Putnam County, Georgia

Despite the clear connection between Indigenous welfare and the Earth, Indigenous students remain one of the most underrepresented minority groups in the Earth sciences, academia generally, and here at Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability as well.

What does it mean to be Latinx in the geosciences?

Latinx students are more likely to be first-generation college students than any other racial or ethnic group.  And while Latinx students make up one-fifth of U.S. undergraduate students, they consist of less than 5% of the professoriate.

Why discuss sexuality and gender in the geosciences?

Invisibility is a major issue for individuals of sexual or gender minorities who may have to choose to come out in workplace settings over and over. In 2013, more than 40% of LGBTQIA+ workers in STEM were not out to their colleagues.

What does it mean to be Asian American in the geosciences?

Wendy Mao & student looking at microscope

Although Asian Americans are well represented in STEM fields, like engineering or mathematics, those numbers don’t translate in the geosciences. In 2018, Asian Americans earned only 5.5% of geoscience doctorates, a number that has been decreasing since the 90s.

What does it mean to be a woman in the geosciences?

Old photo of the three women who first enrolled in the Stanford Geologic Survey's summer geology class

The percentage of women earning Earth science PhDs has risen steadily in recent years, but the increase has not been spread equally among women and much work remains to make the geosciences a place where women of all backgrounds thrive.

Why discuss mental health in academia?

Nearly one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. Despite increased awareness and discussion around mental health disparities in academia, there remains an urgent need to resolve the conditions that cause these issues. 

Why center environmental justice in the geosciences?

Grave yard overlooking an industrial area

Environmental justice is a response to environmental racism – in many cases, the best predictor of whether someone lives near a toxic waste site is race. As a result of community-led activism, environmental justice has emerged as an important topic in academia.

Why discuss disability in the geosciences?

A wheelchair user overlooks Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Compared to the 26% of the U.S. adult population with a disability, only 11% of undergraduate and 7% of graduate students with a documented disability are pursuing STEM majors in the U.S. 

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A deeper dive

We invite you to explore multiple forms of identity beyond our community through additional readings and resources compiled in our DEI Library.  Honoring multiple identities