Conducting a Racial Equity Audit: Methods and Insights from a Resource Center

September 1st, 2022 | RESEARCH

The overall goal of the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) Equity Audit has been to assess CAISE as an organization, and its operations and products through a racial equity lens. In this report, CAISE provides insights on how to better serve our audiences, identify potential resource gaps, and to expand the reach and value of our work to other communities and individuals.

As the resource center for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning program (AISL), CAISE was charged with iterating initiatives and activities to help AISL and other NSF programs understand the Informal STEM Education (ISE) field and attend to important Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEAI) needs in the field. NSF’s Broadening Participation priority has historically and consistently recognized that all people belong in the STEM enterprise and that there are groups who have historically been and continue to be excluded, under-served, or underrepresented in STEM. CAISE’s Broadening Participation Task Force focused on developing resources for those who design and study ISE experiences to take a critical perspective when thinking about, and discussing, barriers to broadening participation within their organizations or projects.

After launching and disseminating the toolkit that resulted from that effort (Bevan, et al 2018), the CAISE team felt it important to turn its attention internally, and undertook the equity audit to examine how our practices, activities, and communications could be more equitable. An equity audit involves the collection and systematic review of a range of data sources to leverage accountability in addressing and making progress toward equity (Capper et al., 2020, Skarla et al. 2009). We anticipated that the Equity Audit would serve to identify areas of strength to build on as well as gaps and opportunities to address equity in CAISE’s practices and activities.

We chose racial equity as the specific focus of our audit because racial inequity underlies every domain of our society, as demonstrated by the events and public discourse around systemic racism in 2020. Race also has implications in the power dynamics between researchers and practitioners, a key area of past CAISE focus (Crowley, et al 2018).



Team Members

James Bell, Author, Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education
Cecilia Garibay, Author, Garibay Group
Rabiah Mayas, Author, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Kevin Crowley, Author, University of Pittsburgh
Martin Storksdieck, Author, Oregon State University
Shannon Sullivan, Author, Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 1612739

Related URLs

Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (2016-2022)


Audience: Administration | Leadership | Policymakers | Educators | Teachers | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Report | Research
Environment Type: Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Resource Centers and Networks