NSF Has Spent $62.5 Million on 'Intersectionality' and STEM Under Current Director

'Workshops on allies, inclusive classrooms, and microaggressions'

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December 3, 2018

The National Science Foundation has spent over $62 million on "intersectionality" studies in the STEM fields, with the goal of transforming science labs into test tubes for identity politics.

The government is spending millions applying the liberal academic theory, which views everything through the lens of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation to identify "systems of discrimination or disadvantage," to science, technology, engineering, and math programs.

The Washington Free Beacon analyzed studies involving "intersectionality" in STEM under the tenure of France A. Córdova, the National Science Foundation director. Córdova was nominated by former president Barack Obama and has led the agency since March 31, 2014.

The analysis revealed 101 projects worth $62,553,718, and found an escalating number of studies on gender, race, inclusivity, and microaggressions since 2014.

Each study specifically involves research on intersectionality and "intersectional" identities in STEM. There were eight projects in 2014, nine in 2015, and 14 studies in 2016. By 2017 there were 21 studies on the subject, and the figure more than doubled to reach 45 studies in 2018. Four projects have already been awarded for 2019, and are set to begin in January.

The projects cover every conceivable intersectional angle, from "how STEM ethics intersect with indigenous cultural knowledge," to "mindfulness training" on how to remove the "implicit biases" of science department chairs.

Córdova, the first Latina woman to head the NSF, is described as an "advocate for diversity in STEM fields." She emphasized "collective impact" and said promoting "gender diversity" in STEM is a high priority for her NSF, during a speech in June 2017 at the American Society for Engineering Education.

Córdova spoke of work at an "institutional level" to promote women in STEM careers, and "large-scale comprehensive change and institutional transformation."

"We want to spark rapid progress to change the balance of diversity in science and engineering," she said.

The push is evident in NSF's recent grant awards. In September, Villanova University began a $1,657,304 project to "foster gender equity," which involves several "thrusts" to change the "climate" of STEM programs at the school.

"The first thrust, change management, will include retreats for administrators with a special focus on diversity and inclusion and faculty workshops focused on resilience during change," according to the grant.

The "second thrust" targets hiring and promotions at the university, and includes "diversity statements for job candidates," "diversity and inclusion goals," and "policy review for bias."

The "final thrust" to improve the "culture for diversity, inclusion, and equity," involves "workshops on allies, inclusive classrooms, and microaggressions," "the expansion of intersectional conversations for faculty," and mindfulness training for department chairs.

"Biases are especially prevalent when people engage in automatic rather than controlled thinking and automatic thinking is more likely when psychological resources are low such as when people are coping with stress," the grant explains. "Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce stress and is at the cutting edge of psychological research and practice. Given these elements, the proposed research intends to measure the impact of mindfulness training of department chairpersons' stress and the potential change in departmental climate from the perspective of departmental stakeholders."

Villanova is hardly alone. The project is just one of over a hundred studies that seek to change STEM culture away from, as one grant describes it, students who are "white, able bodied, heterosexual, male, Christian, [and of] socioeconomic affluence."

The NSF spent $150,000 on "Forming the Empathetic Engineer," another $247,412 to create "An Engineer Like Me," and $349,860 to determine "how one perceives oneself as an engineer."

A $984,484 project is seeking to "transform" Bowling Green State University by integrating the "concepts of allyship." A $1,502,473 joint study is analyzing the "oppressions faced by women who persist in engineering."

The University of Pennsylvania is putting a "specific emphasis" on "race and racism at the neurobiological level" in its $174,947 study.

The University of California-Berkeley received $1,999,886 to "map the 'psychological space' of STEM departments," and "zero in on the ways in which students' stigmatized identities may be particularly sensitive to structure and belonging."

Another $75,500 project declared, "academic subjects are gendered." A study costing $998,853 is aimed at "implicit biases" and the "foggy climate" that theoretically keeps women from getting promoted in STEM.

Every conceivable demographic is covered, and the NSF has a grant promoting their status in STEM, including rural girls ($454,146), students with disabilities ($349,900), Latinas ($249,992), "veterans and LGBTQ people" ($1,472,568), adolescent girls ($310,115), and women of color ($386,530), to name a few.

"The intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, and disability status" across the "life cycle" totaled $2,530,453. A $508,214 grant covers "gendered organizational socialization experiences" of new male and female engineers, "including how they are gendered intersectionally."

Howard University received $1,339,223 to study "multiple consciousnesses [sic]" of black women STEM students. Another joint project set to begin in January 2019 is costing $1,737,374 to study intersectionality using "hip hop and computing."

One study of the parents of high school students using "feminist intersectionality theory" cost taxpayers $319,071, while a study applying "critical race theory, community cultural wealth theory, and intersectionality" to engineering programs at Clemson University cost $398,263.

A joint $1,123,026 study is looking at sexual harassment as one of the "unique challenges faced by women with intersectional identities." The study is ongoing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of California, Merced; University Auxiliary Services at Cal State; Colorado College; and Brown University

Northern Arizona University received $387,991 in September 2018 to find out whether "Indigenous spiritual beliefs create cultural barriers for pursuing STEM related careers."

Another $1,199,990 grant, entitled, "Earth Partnership: Indigenous Arts and Sciences," went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in June 2016.

"The project occurs broadly at the intersection of science learning, environmental justice, ecological restoration, tribal history, and culture at a crucial time of global climate and social change," the grant explains.

Many projects focus on "gender identity," and operate on the premise that white men are preventing women from succeeding in STEM fields.

"Research demonstrates how unconscious bias can hold women back from inclusion in the STEM enterprise," according to an August 2014 grant worth $3,638,881.

"[I]f it's hard for us to imagine a woman when we hear the word 'scientist,' it's doubly hard to imagine a woman of color as a scientist," the grant states.

A collaborative study between the University of Hawaii, University of Texas at Tyler, and Oregon State University totaling $254,885, sought to make engineering more inclusive to "women, Latinos/Latinas, African Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Hawaiians," persons with disabilities, "among others."

The project, which is ongoing until July 2019, takes a "fresh approach" to evaluate the "intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual identity, language, etc." of students.

The study calls straight, white, men the "mythical norm," who force minorities to "deny integral parts" of their identities in order to succeed in science.

"It is hypothesized that students who identify along social categories that are centered in US culture (e.g., white, able bodied, heterosexual, male, Christian, socioeconomic affluence) will have a higher sense of belonging and self-efficacy as they progress through their undergraduate engineering programs, relative to those who identify with other groups," the grant states.

The grant continues: "Because relational and structural power accrues to those who most closely approximate the mythical norm, those who do not align with these social categories may be compelled to assimilate or to withhold or even deny integral parts of their social and cultural identities as a means to successfully navigate engineering culture."

Other projects target the faculty of university science programs. A $999,752 project at the University of New Hampshire is aimed at faculty "whose actions reinforce or disrupt barriers to equality." Another $1,714,964 project is using "cultural humility to balance the institutional and intersectional barriers to equity for STEM faculty."

A conference in Vienna, Austria, with "thought leaders" on "increasing diversity and meaningful intersectionality" in STEM cost $29,931.

The government spent  $368,695 studying "microaggressions" in college engineering programs using an "intersectional perspective," and $587,441 to create "safe zone" inclusion training so more members of the LGBTQ community become engineers.

Another $125,000 was spent studying sexist and racist adjectives.