Towards diverse representation and inclusion in soil science in the United States

Tiffany L. Carter, Lydia L. Jennings, Yamina Pressler, Adrian C. Gallo, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Erika Marín-Spiotta, Christopher Shepard, Teamrat Ghezzehei, Karen L. Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Soil science is one of the least diverse subdisciplines within the agricultural, earth, and natural sciences. Representation within soil science does not currently reflect demographic trends in the United States. We synthesize available data on the representation of historically marginalized groups in soil science in the United States and identify historical mechanisms contributing to these trends. We review education and employment information within academia and the federal government, land-grant university participation, and available Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) membership data to gain insight into the current state of representation within soil sciences and implications for the future of this discipline. Across all domains of diversity, historically marginalized groups are under-represented in soil science. We provide recommendations toward recognizing diversity within the field and improving and encouraging diversity within the SSSA, and suggested responses for both individuals and institutions toward improving diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-974
Number of pages12
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Beth Jacques and Susan Chapman at ASA–CSA–SSSA membership services for their timely, helpful responses to all data requests. E.M.S. and A.A.B. acknowledge support from NSF HRD 1725879 and 1725650. We recognize and thank the countless individuals who walked this path before us, paving the way for equity and the strength to voice our concerns. The authors acknowledge that this examination of diversity in soil science is in no way complete. Data are lacking for several dimensions of diversity, including gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, persons with disabilities, and socioeconomic status, among others. The data and discussion presented here, though incomplete, are meant to serve as a critical starting point for further discussions and analyses about how our academic and professional community can equitably serve all members of our global society. We acknowledge that identity categorization is a complex topic with changing definitions over time. Here we use consistent terminology for clarity and recognize that some readers may prefer different terms.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Soil Science Society of America Journal © 2020 Soil Science Society of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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