Who is doing science has significant implications for the questions that are asked, the methods that are chosen, the patterns that are observed and the recommendations that are made. While researchers and evaluators aim to reduce biases, it is impossible to entirely shed individual and cultural experiences at the laboratory door.
To avoid correlated biases in how problems and populations are studied, researchers from multiple backgrounds and experiences must contribute. Whereas life practices, perspectives, values and motivations are individually nuanced, they are often correlated with demographic groupings, such as race and ethnicity, social class and gender.
The lack of racial and ethnic diversity within entities that steer the construction of knowledge, such as universities and research institutes, limits our knowledge of social problems and jeopardizes our ability to resolve them. The lack of diversity in evaluation firms and policy think tanks also constrains our ability to use knowledge to improve practices and policies in social services.
The benefits of diversity can extend well beyond the construction of knowledge to social innovation. Diversity promotes creative thinking by expanding a group’s capacity for viewing issues or problems from multiple perspectives, angles and vantage points.
The Foundation’s Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity takes advantage of the increasing numbers of underrepresented minority researchers who are earning doctoral degrees and who have already obtained the necessary methodological skill sets to conduct rigorous research. Many bright minds are ready to pursue the world of evaluation if afforded the opportunities and resources to build their capacity as evaluators.