20 Years of Diversity and Inclusion: How Far Have We Come?

Written by: Jenny Darmody
Published on: Jan 25, 2022

female scientist
Photo credit: Lise Gagne/iStockphoto

Looking back over 20 years of STEM from a diversity and inclusion point of view has been an interesting experience.

One of the earliest parts of my research actually went beyond 20 years, all the way back to 1997, when Dr Anita Borg spoke about a challenge that she had put to a large conference two years previously.

Borg was an American computer scientist, who was widely recognised both for her skills in technology and for her work on behalf of women in computing.

The challenge she had set in 1995 was for the US National Science Foundation to “use 50/50 by 2020 as a mantra” to bring help gender equality to the STEM industry.

But while great women in STEM such as Borg were calling for change, there was very little work in the areas of diversity and inclusion until much later. Even then, statistics suggest we’re still a long way off.

The 2000s and beyond show a patchwork quilt of good and bad that brings us to where we are now, where diversity and inclusion have become key business objectives for many top leaders.

But, while we have come a long way in 20 years, there are still many more mountains to climb as we look ahead to the next 20 years of STEM.

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