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Did you leave university science? Tell us why

A green exit sign showing a stick figure of a person running towards a door directed by an arrow symbol

People leave university science for a variety of reasons.Credit: Zen Rial/Getty

The make-up of the scientific workforce at US universities does not reflect the diversity of the country, data show: Black, Latino and Indigenous people are under-represented on every rung of the academic ladder1, from graduate student to full professor. They are also underfunded: both the US National Institutes of Health and the US National Science Foundation acknowledge that they fund about one-third of applications submitted by white principal investigators, but less than one-quarter of proposals from Black project leaders.

About a year ago, these discrepancies came into sharp relief when, responding to George Floyd’s killing by police, scientists identifying as Black, Indigenous and people of colour publicly shared instances of racism and hostility that made them feel unwelcome in scientific spaces, using hashtags such as #BlackInTheIvory and #BlackAndSTEM on Twitter.

Researchers who study the scientific workforce have identified a variety of reasons that people leave academic science, including poor relationships with their advisers2, waning interest in the career path3 and experiences of racism4. Recent surveys of career shifters — people of colour who left journalism, Black doctors who left medical research, women who quit tech jobs — have offered a window into how those industries could better support under-represented groups in their ranks.

Nature wants to highlight the experiences of researchers from groups under-represented in science who worked at a US university but have since left — for other careers, to hit pause or perhaps to pursue other life paths. If this describes you, please consider sharing your contact details through the form below, for use in a future story. If you leave your details, you might be contacted by a Nature reporter. If you know someone who has left university science, please share this article with them.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-00749-x

References

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    Tilghman, S. et al. Science 372, 133–135 (2021).

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    Chakraverty, D., Jeffe, D. B., Dabney, K. P. & Tai, R. H. et al. Int. J. Dr Stud. 15, 461–483 (2020).

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    Rosenzweig, E. Q. et al. J. Educ. Psychol. 113, 351–369 (2021).

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    Chang, M. J., Eagan, M. K., Lin, M. H. & Hurtado, S. et al. J. Higher Educ. 82, 564–596 (2011).

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