Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Ecology

A diverse community of ecologists is necessary to ensure that areas of study cover a breadth of topics of concern to all individuals, to enable translation of research to diverse communities outside of academia, and to provide a variety of perspectives and maximize our ability to analyze ecological problems. Diversity encompasses many factors, however, data regarding some types of diversity in the sciences (such as sexual orientation or disability) are largely unavailable. This section will specifically focus on demographic data regarding racial and ethnic diversity, which show that there are large disparities among racial groups in ecology. Across all ecology and evolutionary biology graduate programs in the U.S., an average of 7% students are from underrepresented groups* [1] . In addition, people of color** make up just 9% of membership of the Ecological Society of America [2]. However, data from the National Science Foundation show that 23% of those employed at the doctorate level in STEM fields are people of color [3], indicating a discrepancy between ecology and other STEM fields.

The mission of the University of California system is to serve residents of California, and it is essential that we consider how the significant discrepancies between demographics inside and outside of the GGE and other graduate programs in the UC affect our ability to fulfill this mission. In California, people of color make up approximately 60% of the population, and groups historically underrepresented in universities account for 47% [4] At UC Davis, students from underrepresented groups make up 21% of undergraduates, 14% of graduate students, and 35% of GGE students [5,6]. The GGE is one of the largest graduate ecology programs in the nation [1] – as a result, diversity within the GGE has a large impact on the diversity of the field of ecology. As a leading program in ecology, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to address barriers to diversity within our program and our field. Two ways that students and faculty in the GGE are working towards these goals are through participating in outreach activities and the GGE Diversity Committee. The Diversity Committee specifically addresses diversity within the GGE.



Figure 1. Demographics of UCD GGE in comparison to other UCD graduate programs, UCD undergraduates, California population, and US population. Data from US Census Bureau, UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies, and UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions. No data on “Other” available for CA or US populations.

* When used in this document, “Underrepresented” refers to people of Hispanic/Latino, African-American, and Native American origin. 
** When used in this document, “People of Color” refers to people of Asian, Hispanic/Latino, African-American, and Native American origin.

Literature Cited
1.   National Research Council. 2010. A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate
Programs: Report and Summary Tables.
2.   Ortega S., Flecker A., Hoffman K., Jablonski L. Johnson-White J., Jurgensen-Armstrong, M., Kimmerer R., Poston M., Socha A., Taylor J. 2006. Women and minorities in ecology II: Committee report. Ecological Society of America.
3.  National Science Foundation. 2006. Characteristics of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers in the United States: 2006. Accessed Feb. 2, 2013.
4.   U.S. Census Bureau. 2010. Census State and County QuickFacts: California.
5.   UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions. Student Profile.
6.   Davis Office of Graduate Studies. Data Report: Enrollment Headcount by Ethnicity, Fall 2012, Ecology.