Why Diversity Matters header

Why Diversity Matters

Neurological disorders are on the rise and are increasingly recognized as major causes of death and disability worldwide. These disorders do not discriminate between gender or race; they can affect anyone.

Women in Neuroscience

Intern in lab

The neuroscience field suffers from a lack of diverse representation in practitioners, researchers, and leaders. These disparities are due to barriers to underrepresented minorities entering science, and biases and stereotypes also are factors. This lack of diversity leads to inequitable outcomes among women and people of color.

Women make up at least 50% of neuroscience students at the predoctoral and doctoral levels, but they leave the field at a greater rate than men.

Women who remain in the neuroscience field are:

  • Less represented in research, at leadership levels, and in tenured professorships
  • Paid less
  • Receive fewer primary citations
  • Have their work questioned more
  • Do not always receive credit for their work

People of Color in Neuroscience

Despite roughly equal levels of interest in STEM, students from underrepresented minorities are about half as likely to complete a STEM degree in college, as compared to white and Asian students.

This results in a limited pool of talent from which the field can recruit and hampers the ability to highlight the research and work of people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Lab workers working with various tests

Benefits of Diversity

Research shows that diversity in practitioners, researchers and leaders has real and lasting impact by:

  • Accelerating breakthroughs
  • Reducing barriers faced by underrepresented minorities throughout society
  • Improving research and health outcomes across all populations

Studies show that diverse groups, including women and people of color, generate more creative ideas and improved scientific outcomes than homogenous groups.

Other benefits of diversity include:

  • Increased trust from minority groups who have historically been marginalized and even oppressed by medical research, leading to better recruitment from these populations to conduct studies on the issues they face
  • Increased focus on healthcare disparities, as underrepresented minority scientists often have a greater drive to reduce such disparities as well as a better understanding of how they arise
  • A wider range of patients see medical professionals who look like them, and patients who identify with their physician may better adhere to treatment and have better outcomes
  • When given a choice, racial and ethnic minority patients are more likely to select physicians who share their racial/ethnic backgrounds and report greater satisfaction and receiving higher quality care

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

Maya Angelou Author, poet, and civil rights activist

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