Being an ally to BIPOC scientists

Created by the ASBMB Maximizing Access Committee (2024)


  • Although the STEM workforce has steadily diversified in the past decade, data (Pew Research Center) shows that Black and Hispanic Americans continue to be underrepresented in STEM. 
  • In 2020–2021, Hispanic, Black and American Indian or Alaska Native people collectively accounted for ~37% of the U.S. population (ages 18–34) but earned 26% of science and engineering (S&E) bachelor’s degrees, 24% of S&E master’s degrees and 16% of S&E doctoral degrees (NSF Diversity and STEM Report). 
  • In 2020, Hispanic, Black and American Indian or Alaska Native STEM workers had lower median earnings than white or Asian STEM workers (NSF Diversity and STEM Report). 

Best practices for allies

  • Recognize your privilege.
    • Self-reflection is important. 
    • Identify factors outside of your immediate control that count as privileges. Your education, gender, age, sexual identity, race, class, ability, religion and language may be considered privileges. 
    • Acknowledge these privileges publicly when appropriate and allow them to frame how you approach situations. 
    • Use your privileges to support your colleagues with less privilege. 
  • Educate yourself about injustice and inequities.
    • Continuously seek more education and learn from content (movies, television, books, articles, podcasts, etc.) made by BIPOC creators to get a better understanding of their lived experiences. 
    • People who face injustices daily may find it stressful to share their experiences; it is never their responsibility to educate you or explain their experiences. 
    • Do research about the various inequities that you observe and the ways that you can contribute to the correction of those inequities. 
    • People will not always have the same experiences, so solutions may not be universal. 
  • Be willing to listen.
    • When people are willing to share their experiences, listen to them carefully and completely; do more listening than talking. 
    • Consider how you might have felt in a similar situation (remembering that your own privileges can make this difficult to conceive). 
    • Consider what you (or others) could have done differently in the situation. 
    • Don’t question their feelings or the validity of the events that they share with you. 
  • Promote diversity whenever possible.
    • Nominate your BIPOC colleagues for awards and prizes. 
    • Write references in support of marginalized persons whenever possible. 
    • Do not continuously ask your BIPOC colleagues to do nonpromotable work without compensation. 
  • Advocacy as an ally.
    • When you observe harmful practices, speak up and support marginalized people. 
    • Consider mentoring students, colleagues and professionals with marginalized identities. 
    • Dismantling systemic injustices and inequities can be a challenging process, but everyone has a role to play.