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Position Statement

GSA: Science, Stewardship, Service


Diversity in the Geosciences Community

Adopted June 2010; revised April 2013, May 2016

Position Statement
The Geological Society of America (GSA) affirms the value of diverse scientific ideas and the connection between diverse scientific ideas and a diverse group of contributors of those ideas, including those who comment and criticize.

This position statement (1) summarizes the consensus view of GSA regarding the importance and value of diversity; (2) provides information that is intended to raise awareness among geoscience professionals implementing those policies and evaluating the short‐and long‐term consequences; and (3) encourages geoscientists to participate in implementing suitable diversity practices at local, regional, state, and national levels.


The diversity found among humans collectively speaks to a richness of resources, perspectives, and experience. A diverse membership (or workforce) is more capable, insightful, responsive, and dynamic than one that offers very little variety. Diversity today generally refers to variety in race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, creed, religion, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, marital status, medical condition, pregnancy, education, class, political affiliation, or parental status.

GSA should enhance its diversity—philosophically and operationally—thereby maximizing the benefit to its individual members and to the organization. This will optimize the ability of GSA to serve society as a whole. GSA must vigorously and proactively reject prejudice and stereotyping wherever it is encountered in our profession, while actively promoting a diverse workforce, now and in the future.

During these times, our science must be justified to achieve a positive standing in performance and value to the community. Increased scrutiny of scientists and scientific organizations exists regarding societally relevant issues and how they are addressed. Cultural variety supports diverse points of view and diverse positions on issues. Awareness of and respect for these issues—geologically related or not—is important in achieving solutions to problems that work well for all who are affected by them. It is through amalgamation of individual perspectives and diverse backgrounds and cultures coupled with higher-order thinking skills that issues can be identified and the full range of possible solutions to problems can be considered.

The GSA community is dedicated to maintaining an organizational climate where diverse scientific ideas are welcomed in an open forum for discussion and exploration by geoscience professionals of varied personal backgrounds, reflecting differences in culture and origin and rejecting prejudice and stereotyping. Diverse perspectives are important and necessary for responsible, effective, decision‐making and leadership. Other benefits of a diverse profession include increased options in attracting the best and brightest minds into the field and communicating with and educating the public (“Earth literacy”).

Public Policy Aspects of Diversity and Derived Benefits

Mutual respect is key to a successful diversity policy. The GSA community is dedicated to enacting codes of conduct that include demonstrating respect for other members. Although an effort to attain diversity may be well‐intentioned, groups might “allow” participation but still ignore certain members (or worse, be disrespectful to them directly or about them to others). Respect is needed before participation and progress for true inclusion can occur.

One key benefit of diversity is the opportunity posed by a rich cultural mixture, along with the idea that no single “right way” exists to do things. Openness to wide‐ranging ideas and pathways to progress is the lifeline of science. Who can know the origin of an idea? What nuances of a person’s upbringing, cultural milieu, education, social interactions, and ethnicity can lead to an advancement of human knowledge?

The geosciences have an important service function, and the ability of GSA to serve will be enhanced through the active, engaged participation of a diverse membership. A diverse membership will also establish an environment that is more inviting to potential new GSA members, enhancing the Society’s growth and potential for advancement.

Another benefit of a diverse workforce is in achieving more complete societal support for earth sciences. As more groups in society become more engaged in the earth sciences, and as their knowledge and appreciation increases, the earth sciences will likely receive stronger support leading citizens to make better choices regarding Earth issues.


This GSA Position Statement on diversity addresses GSA staff and membership; headquarters activities, meetings, and special functions; and the role of GSA and its members in their larger communities. In addition, this non-discrimination policy applies to all participants in GSA programs, partners, contractors, vendors and other contractual groups that do business with GSA. Furthermore the statement challenges the membership and all GSA units to deal with the complexity of issues related to diversity in their home institutions, whether they are academic, governmental, non‐profit, or industry. In this latter regard, the statement challenges the membership and all GSA units to deal with the complexity of issues related to diversity in their home institutions, whether they are academic, governmental, non‐profit, or industry.

GSA is committed to making Earth literacy available to all people and to having geoscience professionals, including its membership, reflect the diversity of the population, and will undertake reasonable efforts to ensure that its activities are open to all. Although a diverse climate cannot be achieved through rules, it can be encouraged and nurtured through processes that educate leaders and participants about the benefits of and pathways to equity and balance.

The implementation of the recommendations below is a major element in achieving the goals of this Position Statement. It includes elements that GSA, as an organization, and particularly its leadership (Council and the Executive Director) need to address, and elements that individual members (in their GSA‐related activities and otherwise) are herein challenged to engage. Some of those elements are


 Opportunities for All to Broaden the Teaching of Earth Science in Schools

GSA encourages the following actions:


K12 Educators:

School Administrators:

School Boards and Parent-Teacher Associations/Organizations:

Parents and Students:

Public Officials:

 Opportunities for GSA and Its Members to Help Implement Recommendations

To facilitate implementation of the goals of this Position Statement, GSA recommends the following actions to increase the involvement of geoscientists in local, regional, statewide, and federal diversity policy decisions.


Position Statements adopted by GSA Council may be used freely in their entirety by members in public policy discussions on the scientific issues to which they pertain.

About the Geological Society of America

The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with over 26,000 members from academia, government, and industry in 115 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA advances the geosciences, enhances the professional growth of its members, and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. GSA encourages cooperative research among Earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth-science education. Inquiries about the GSA or this position statement should be directed to GSA’s Director for Geoscience Policy, Kasey S. White, at +1‐202‐669‐0466 or .

© The Geological Society of America, Inc.