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SSA task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion: Toward a changing, inclusive future in earthquake science

August 4, 2021

In the United States, a wide variety of studies show that the geoscience community does not reflect the broader societal makeup (e.g., Velasco and Jaurrieta de Velasco, 2010; Dutt, 2020; Howley, 2020). In fact, only about 10% of all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Ph.D. degrees are awarded to people of color, although they represent more than a third of the population (Dutt, 2020). These numbers have changed little over the past 40 yr (e.g., Bernard and Cooperdock, 2018; Dutt, 2020). Recent events in the United States have again raised awareness of this discrepancy in many fields; similar divergences may be present throughout the world. This discrepancy represents a tremendous loss of talent and contributes to ongoing bias and racism.
As the premier international seismological professional society, Seismological Society of America (SSA) is committed, as stated in its ethics policy, to “freedom and transparency in research and education, which should be conducted in a supportive, inclusive, and respectful environment, free from any discrimination, harassment or bullying.” SSA convened the SSA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to identify specific and actionable recommendations that the Society can take to start to address the significant issues surrounding the systematic underrepresentation in seismology and related geosciences by marginalized groups on both short- and long- term time horizons. This report, written by the Task Force, outlines actionable items that SSA can undertake as well as a framework by which progress can be measured to help guide the Society and its members forward as a community to make earthquake science more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive. We recognize that this document cannot address the multiple individual, cultural, and historical barriers that some members may face (e.g., Núñez et al., 2020), nor can it reflect all possibilities or all recommended practices (e.g., Ali et al., 2021). What this document does represent, however, is the beginning of what we hope to be a significant cultural change in how we conduct earthquake science as an organization, not the end of this process as the Task Force fulfills its charter. As a note, some of the recommendations that the Task Force has outlined here have already been implemented within SSA or are actively being considered. For completeness, we still include them here because this highlights the commitment to change that SSA leadership has embraced.