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Inclusivity in the 2020 Planetary Decadal Survey Process and Lessons for Other Institutions

Presentation #502.09 in the session “Plenary Panel: Workforce Townhall”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Inclusivity in the 2020 Planetary Decadal Survey Process and Lessons for Other Institutions

NASA’s goal to support a sustainable and diverse workforce is explicitly stated in multiple high-level NASA strategic documents. The NASA Science Vision (Science 2020–2024: A Vision for Scientific Excellence) identified “Increase the diversity of thought and backgrounds represented across the entire SMD portfolio through a more inclusive environment” as one of its top priorities (Strategy 4.1). The 2018 NASA Strategic Plan identified “Cultivate a diverse and innovative workforce with the right balance of skills and experience to provide an inclusive work environment in which employees that possess varying perspectives, education levels, life experiences, and backgrounds can work together and remain fully engaged in our mission” as one of its top objectives (Strategic Objective 4.4).

The decadal survey needs to take swift, decisive action to ensure that the process they use to construct a report serves the needs of NASA in making “a more inclusive environment”. Furthermore, other groups that work with NASA (including the DPS) should also be working to make planetary science more inclusive. Here we make recommendations for the 2020 decadal survey and track whether they were implemented. These recommendations can easily be adapted for use by other groups and institutions.

The first recommendation, listed in the blog posted on the Women in Planetary Science blog titled What are the impacts of performing a Decadal Survey during a global pandemic” was to delay the due dates of the white papers. That recommendation has already been implemented.

Our further recommendations include:

  • To have a panel that focuses specifically on the need to make planetary science more diverse and inclusive. The composition of the panel itself should include historically underrepresented groups.

  • To ensure that diverse voices are included by:

    • Including members of underrepresented groups on the decadal committees

    • Holding town halls at different locations/at times/virtually, particularly those that cater to members of underrepresented groups

    • Ensuring that white papers written by a diverse group are considered fully.

  • To have committee members undergo implicit bias and racial sensitivity training before writing their report(s). This should include training on how to amplify voices of the most marginalized members of the community.

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