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Achieving diversity in Research

Research has a diversity problem. Many groups are underrepresented in research including women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and socially disadvantaged populations. Attention to the issue is growing, and some institutions and scientific communities are actively seeking to increase diversity. But far more needs to be done.

This collection of articles, a collaboration between Nature Research and Scientific American, focuses on the barriers faced by women and how they might be overcome, but also includes articles about the challenges encountered by other underrepresented groups in science. The collection highlights our long-standing commitment to covering gender-related issues and other aspects of diversity. We hope that this collection will stimulate discussion and build support for greater diversity in research and beyond. 

Image: Shutterstock

Career advice

Universities and those who work there must reimagine spaces, behaviour and processes to promote a sense of belonging for everyone, say Danielle McCullough and Ruth Gotian.

Career Column | | Nature

Nature’s survey of more than 6,000 graduate students reveals the turbulent nature of doctoral research.

Career Feature | | Nature

Nature spoke to three US researchers who have built academic careers after they were released.

Career Feature | | Nature

Aref Kyyaly fled the Syrian civil war to the United Kingdom with his family in 2014. Since leaving the country, Kyyaly has joined the University of Southampton, where he now researches the early detection of allergies. Nature speaks to him about his experiences.

Career Q&A | | Nature

Riley Black, who came out as transgender and non-binary this year, describes the challenges of cultivating diversity in a discipline with an ‘Indiana Jones’ image.

Career Column | | Nature

Imposing a quota to boost the numbers of female academic researchers might have backfired.

Career News | | Nature

Nature’s survey offers a snapshot of salaries and career paths in the scientific sector.

Career Feature | | Nature

Scientists in areas that lack basic provisions — including dependable electricity, water supplies and funding — do research that has a high societal impact. Five people describe the challenges they face.

Career Feature | | Nature


The sciences can be a sanctuary for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, but biases may still discourage many from coming out.

News Feature | | Nature

Opinion and Analysis

Academic chemistry is haemorrhaging talented female researchers. However, a barrage of new initiatives aims to stem the flood.

Feature | | Nature Reviews Chemistry

Materials research is poised to play a pivotal role in addressing the grand challenges faced by society, from engineering better medicines to providing accessible clean water and renewable energy. However, complex problems require diverse teams. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address the diversity gap in materials science and engineering, especially for women.

Comment | | Nature Reviews Materials

The percentage of women in post-graduate physics positions has stalled just below 20%. The most precipitous drop in women’s representation occurs between high school and university; however, women at all career stages struggle with ongoing cultural burdens and obstacles.

Feature | | Nature Reviews Physics

Ethnic and racial diversity are extremely low among United States citizens and permanent residents who earned doctorates in earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences. Worse, there has been little to no improvement over the past four decades.

Comment | | Nature Geoscience

Speaking at a scientific conference helps spread scientific results and is also fundamental for career advancement. Here the authors show that at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, the largest Earth and space science conference, women are offered speaking opportunities less often than men overall.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Two years after the biotech industry was called out on gender imbalance, the lack of racial diversity in the workforce is largely being ignored.

Feature | | Nature Biotechnology

Safeguarding our lives online requires skills and experiences that lie beyond masculine stereotypes of the hacker and soldier, says Winifred R. Poster.

Comment | | Nature

Archive study shows that formal inclusion of women does not automatically lead to their full participation, say Aileen Fyfe and Camilla Mørk Røstvik.

Comment | | Nature

Immunologists appreciate the need for creative approaches to tackle complex scientific questions, which can involve not only the use of novel technologies but also the experience of scientists from diverse backgrounds. Here, we highlight measures to prime for the inclusion of women and underrepresented individuals in science to boost immunology research.

Comment | | Nature Reviews Immunology

Putting women and girls at the centre of solar-oven programmes builds communities and reduces pollution, say Laura S. Brown and William F. Lankford.

Comment | | Nature

The First World War ushered women into laboratories and factories. In Britain, it may have won them the vote, argues Patricia Fara, but not the battle for equality.

Comment | | Nature

To appreciate women’s contribution to science, Michelle Francl suggests it’s time to stop talking about the most famous one.

Thesis | | Nature Chemistry

Although there is a keen awareness of the gender gap in the physical sciences, a healthy female representation has yet to be achieved. This article offers some possible explanations, in addition to strategies to more rapidly achieve gender balance in the physical sciences.

Comment | | Nature Reviews Chemistry

Lack of diversity in study populations, research methodologies and the researchers themselves undermines the goal of identifying and understanding the full range of human behaviour. Medin et al. argue that this system of non-diversity represents a crisis for the science of human behaviour.

Perspective | | Nature Human Behaviour

Chemistry education and research in Africa is challenging — a fact that is clearly reflected by publication metrics. Yet this is far from the full story on a continent that has youth on its side, a cultural link to chemistry through its strong interest in plants and indigenous medicine, and an increasing number of ways forward.

Commentary | | Nature Chemistry

Women are underrepresented in the science and engineering fields. Difficulties in balancing family life and work have a big role in women's opting out of scientific career paths. Institutions and funding agencies need to work harder to reverse this disparity.

Commentary | | Nature Immunology


Neuroscience is not spared from wrestling with gender disparity issues. Progress toward more balanced representation has been slow, but improvement is possible with consistent and focused efforts.

Editorial | | Nature Neuroscience

Science, including the fields of ecology and evolution, must advocate a zero-tolerance policy towards harassment and bullying. This means promoting safe workspaces in all contexts, and letting go of the idea that fieldwork entails special circumstances.

Editorial | | Nature Ecology & Evolution

Chemistry research and education face challenges anywhere in the world, but more so in less developed — or less stable — economies. These countries and their more economically fortunate neighbours can all contribute to the development of chemistry and its ability to tackle local and global issues.

Editorial | | Nature Chemistry

Despite much emphasis on diversity in the US, geoscience remains one of the least diverse scientific disciplines. If we want to achieve and maintain diversity, we need to make our work environments welcoming to a broad spectrum of voices.

Editorial | | Nature Geoscience

No matter where you look in biopharmaceutical boardrooms, gender bias is evident. Is it so difficult to actually acknowledge this pernicious bias and actively discourage all-male boards?

Editorial | | Nature Biotechnology