White Papers on DEIA Topics in response to the request for community input to the 2013-2022 Planetary Science Decadal Survey
This table has been updated to include the links to the submitted white papers
TitleCorresponding AuthorSummary of Paper Link to submitted paperLink to pre-submitted paper
Who is missing in Planetary Science?: A Demographics study of the planetary science workforce Ed Rivera-Valentin, USRA/LPI ( planetary science workforce surveys have shown that the demographics of the field are not representative of the national population. Currently, women are underrepresented by 28.0%, American Indian / Alaskan Native by 42%, Latinx / Hispanics by 76%, and Black / African Americans by 92% with respect to the National Civilian Labor Force. Comparison of the 2011 and 2020 workforce surveys finds that while women have seen an increase in representation from 25% to 34% and Latinx / Hispanics from 1% to 4%, Black / African Americans have seen no growth in the past 9 years. These findings can be used to motivate and inform diversity and inclusion initiatives in the next decade. We encourage the decadal survey to explicitly recognize the current and continued significant underrepresentation of people of color, particularly Black / African Americans, and that diversity initiatives have not succeeded in rectifying this.
Who is missing in Planetary Science?: Strategic Recommendations to Improve the Diversity of the Field

Julie Rathbun, PSI ( and ethnic minorities (particularly those of African American, Latinx, and Native American background) are the most underrepresented groups in planetary science. Comparisons of the numbers of planetary scientists to the US population show that these groups are more underrepresented than white or Asian scientists by a factor of ~10. We will summarize the relevant demographic data available for planetary science and related fields and share social science results that could help explain the disparity. Finally, we will suggest changes that can be implemented to improve the climate for members of underrepresented groups in planetary science.
Enabling the Planetary Workforce to do the best science by funding work that is a service to the ProfessionJulie Rathbun, PSI ( work is required to keep science moving and improving. Being involved in the decadal survey process is a service to the profession. Doing work to understand the state of the profession is a service to the profession. Here, we give ways to enable these service jobs to be equitably distributed, valued, and funded in our community.
Ensuring a safe and equitable workspace: The importance and feasibility of a Code of ConductSerina Diniega, JPL ( our field aims to become more inclusive, we need updated community and social practices to ensure that everyone (especially those with less power) have safe and equitable workspaces. This white paper will primarily focus on the “Code of Conduct” as a policy/process by which guidance is provided for interactions between team/group members or conference attendees. Generally, these statements are written with an aim to foster a more inclusive and accessible environment by protecting the physical, mental, and emotional safety of all participants. This shift towards including consideration of the general culture (and how that culture is affected by social norms of and power dynamics between participants) within team or event planning became a bit more formalized for the planetary science community in May 2019, when the NASA Science Mission Directorate Director, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, introduced a requirement that all SMD-funded conferences have a Code of Conduct. We also will discuss a few other policies with regards to paper authorship and field/travel planning that are important for improved diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility.
Breaking Down Barriers: Accessibility in Planetary ScienceJen Piatek, CCSU ( Planetary science relies on a diversity of disciplines to explore the the solar system, but we are missing diversity in our community due to barriers erected by inaccessible workplaces and negative perceptions about required accommodations. We address why accessibility should matter to planetary scientists and how to address barriers within our community. This is an old challenge addressed by other groups dedicated to increasing accessibility across the sciences. Our broad recommendation is the adoption of policies from appropriate advocacy groups, including the Working Group on Accessibility and Disability of the American Astronomical Society and the International Association for Geoscience Diversity.
Ensuring Inclusivity in the 2023 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey Julie Rathbun, PSI, ( is a difficult, but necessary goal, particularly of a process that aims to represent the consensus of a large group. Here, we give recommendations to address 2 main questions: (1) How can we ensure that the voices of the most marginalized in Planetary science are represented in the current Decadal Survey Process? (2) How can we ensure that DEIA and the state of the profession are given the consideration they require in order to make recommendations that will improve the inclusivity of the Planetary Science and Astrobiology communities?
Lessons learned from the ASTRO Decadal Survey White PapersChristina Richey, JPL, ( Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (Astro2020) is currently in the drafting phase of the study, which will provide recommendations for the next decade of astrophysics research. Among the tasks requested was to assess the state of the profession. Astro2020 received 294 White Papers concerning Activities, Projects, and the State of the Profession. Summarized here are the recommendations from several of the DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) White Papers that could also be applicable and critical to the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey (2023-2032).
Diversity in action: Solutions for a more diverse and inclusive decade of planetary science and astrobiology

Britney Schmidt, Georgia Institute of Technology, ( & OAST teamThere are short-term and long-term changes to NASA programs, institutional structures, and incentives that have the potential to markedly improve diversity and equal opportunity. We have made ten recommendations that range from easy to implement to those that require research-backed approaches and infusion of new resources. We have structured the order of these programs based on a rough estimate of the cumulative positive impact these changes may have for underrepresented groups, but all of these changes positively impact the entire PS&A community. For example, eliminating bias community-wide through training removes barriers to entry for diverse groups, while also improving the broader community. Infusion of resources into traditionally underrepresented groups takes dedicated effort, but has the benefit of increasing pipelines of diverse people into the community, which has been shown to improve the quality of work as well. We emphasize that these are meant as starting points for a discussion that must be undertaken as part of a much broader commitment to changing the way the scientific community is built and supported. It will take the work of diverse minds and strong personal and institutional commitments to effect lasting change.
LGBTQ+ in Planetary ScienceKathleen Vander Kaaden, Jacobs Technologies ( a recent survey of planetary scientists shows that LGBTQ+ representation has grown in this field from 3% in 1970 to 12% in the last 5 years, many members of this community still feel marginalized, excluded, and unsafe in planetary science. It is critical that we begin to foster an interdisciplinary, diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible environment over the next decade, especially for members of the LGBTQ+ community. We recommend numerous actionable items that can be taken to make planetary science workplaces, professional societies, professional conferences, and universities more inclusive, supportive, and safe environments for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Recommendations from the CSWA Survey on Workplace ClimateChristina Richey, JPL, ( planetary science, the dominant lived experience & cultural constructions (including power & influence) of the field are white, cisgender male, & straight. This paper looks at the results from the CSWA Workplace Climate Survey, an internet-based survey of the workplace experiences of 474 astronomers & planetary scientists between 2011 & 2015. We will also present the recommendations from our peer reviewed papers, which largely reference the American Physical Society LGBT+ best practices report [Ackerman et al., 2018], & the National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine (2018) report on sexual harassment. With this, we seek not only to highlight a problem but also to provide a path toward a more inclusive & equitable scientific community.
Extended Missions in Planetary Science: Impacts to Science and the WorkforceIngrid Daubar, Brown University ( & Ross Beyer, SETI Institute ( missions contribute tremendous demonstrated value. The return in science productivity more than justifies the relatively small expense of extending functioning missions. We ask the Decadal Survey to explicitly highlight the value of extended missions to the planetary community, both in terms of scientific achievements and as an important career pipeline. We encourage an evaluation and response to the recommendations in the 2016 National Academies Report “Extending Science”. Additionally, we recommend several actions that would improve clarity, attempt to do better at providing robust and stable funding, and improve participation in and inclusivity of missions.
Planetary and Astrobiology Blank Papers: Science White Papers Cancelled or Downscaled Due to Direct Impact of COVID-19 and National-scale Civil ActionNoam Izenberg, JHU APL ( significant number of community members intended to submit white papers but were unable to do so due to effects of COVID-19 and disruptions due to recent national civil action. This list informs the Decadal Survey of some of those missing voices, providing a resource for the Committees to fill gaps caused by barriers to participation.
Professional development in the next decade: Supporting opportunities in all career paths and life eventsRyan Watkins, PSI (, Nicolle Zellner, Albion College (, & Maggie McAdam, NASA ARC ( Science and Astrobiology need more than numerical diversity to create and sustain a thriving scientific discipline and community; they also need scientists from a variety of backgrounds, institutions, and family situations. Support is particularly needed for people who parent and/or care for others, people who breastfeed, people who work at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and people who choose career paths that do not include research at large universities or NASA centers. Additionally, funding professional development that includes proposal writing, proposal review, manuscript review, as well as pro-social skills such as bystander intervention, could substantially support or increase continued participation in the field. By providing supportive work and conference environments, as well as opportunities for scientists to develop skills and collaborations that will further their careers, the fields of Planetary Science and Astrobiology will become more just and equitable.
The Preventing Harassment in Science Workshop: Summary and Recommendations of Best Practices for Planetary Science and Astrobiology
Kristen Bennett, USGS ( Preventing Harassment in Science: Building a Community of Practice for Meaningful Change workshop took place in June of 2020. This highly successful, NASA-funded workshop brought leaders of anti-harassment efforts together to share ideas and discuss best practice methods to reduce harassment in the scientific workplace. In this white paper, we describe the workshop and summarize the best practices for reducing harassment that were discussed. We include a list of recommendations that can be used to take steps towards reducing harassment in the planetary science and astrobiology community.
The Power of the Solicitation: Exerting EDI Influence at the Institutional LevelDaniella Scalice, Melissa Kirven-Brooks, & Aaron Gronstal, NASA ARC ( addition to implementing new EDI policies and practices within their own walls, agencies have the opportunity to recognize and claim the power they hold in their working relationships, and utilize that power to exert influence on how those with whom they do business and affiliate conduct themselves with respect to EDI. Agencies have an inherent stake in the EDI health of the institutions to which they transmit funds and with which they cultivate long-term working relationships. Researchers funded by agencies like NASA have a strong role to play and a vital stake in how their institutions treat EDI. Agencies can provide motivation to make needed changes at an institution via its solicitation/proposal review/award processes.
Relationships First and Always: A Guide to Collaborations with Indigenous CommunitiesKat Gardner-Vandy, OSU ( & Daniella Scalice, NASA ARC ( this paper, we outline recommendations for working with Indigenous Communities based on the knowledge that long-term relationship-building with these communities is the foundation upon which educational programs, research collaborations, and other initiatives must be co-created. The paper defines a series of best practices in approach and process for establishing and maintaining successful collaborations with Indigenous communities which have application across many types of efforts. Implementing these practices will have lasting impacts on EDI policies of institutions including universities, professional societies, educational organizations, and agencies, on the STEM workforce broadly, and for Indigenous youth and communities to come to identify with and support the pursuit of STEM as a career.
Military Work by Space Exploration Organizations: A Barrier to Inclusion and Safe Workspaces for Marginalized CommunitiesZahra Khan ( science labs are involved with military industrial complex (MIC) organizations working on technologies such as weapons, surveillance aircraft and spacecraft, and machine learning and artificial intelligence for military use. While many members of the space science community have positive associations with the United States military, police and intelligence agencies, these agencies’ extensive history of targeting BIPOC abroad and at home, though concerning for all, may have a higher negative impact on marginalized members of our profession and allies working in spaces with ties to these agencies by posing ethical dilemmas in the workplace. These impacts could affect employee engagement and retention rates, and whether or not students enter the space science field in the first place. We recommend that studies be conducted to quantify and understand the extent of the impact of space science’s ties to the MIC on EDI in space science and further that projects pursue full transparency in their ties to organizations that participate in the MIC.
Building Safer And More Inclusive Field Experiences In Support Of Planetary ScienceJacob Richardson, UMCP & NASA GSFC ( expeditions in support of planetary science is important to advance our understanding of planetary processes and enhance the science community through training and close, often interdisciplinary collaborative efforts. Still, field work faces unique safety risks and barriers to entry, due to the physical nature of the field but also from team behavior and sometimes inhospitable communities near common field sites. Field teams need to be resilient to field site hazards and self-supportive to improve safety and accessibility. NASA should call on proposing teams to develop robust safety plans and should develop a code of conduct for field research funded by NASA. Field teams should equally value physical safety training (e.g. First Aid and CPR) and social safety training (e.g., Bystander Awareness Training).
The Value of a Dual Anonymous System for Reducing Bias in Reviews of Planetary Research and Analysis Proposals and Scientific PapersJani Radebaugh, BYU ( Reviewer anonymous paper and proposal review systems have been in place for many decades. Dual anonymous review systems, in which neither the submitting party nor the reviewing party are known to each other, have the potential to improve the success rate of scientific proposal and paper acceptance with underrepresented or marginalized groups. Often conscious or unconscious bias can occur on the behalf of the reviewer, in which a person’s capabilities are inferred based on their gender, ethnicity, age, affiliation or relative newness to the field. Concealing the identity of the proposal or paper author removes the potential for unconscious bias and allows for the work to be evaluated on its own merit. The Space Science Telescope Institute (STScI) observed significant improvements in the amount of telescope time awarded to female scientists under their dual anonymous review system (Johnson et al. 2020)
Addressing mental health in planetary scienceSteve Vance, JPL (
As NASA strives to be more inclusive by confronting institutional racism, gender inequality, and sexual harassment, and recognizing sexual diversity, it must also work to address a compounding crisis of mental health. We summarize the available evidence for a mental health crisis among academics. We describe how this problem intersects with and amplifies problems of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Planetary Nomenclature and Indigenous CommunitiesMatthew S. Tiscareno, SETI Institute ( recent decades, planetary nomenclature has expanded from drawing almost exclusively from European cultures to become more culturally diverse. However, Indigenous communities have generally not been included in decisions to use their cultural property for planetary nomenclature. Actively including Indigenous voices in naming decisions ensures that their cultures are accurately and respectfully represented and recognizes their sovereignty over their own culture. The planetary community and NASA should build strong co-creative relationships with Indigenous communities, eventually resulting in procedures for responsible use of cultural property in planetary nomenclature.
The Growing Digital Divide and its Upcoming Negative Impacts on NASA's WorkforceMoses Milazzo, Other Orb LLC ( of the Problem: COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the digital divide and digital inequalities especially for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC), low income, urban, and rural families and students. This includes families and students with a wide variety of mental health issues and disabilities that can be negatively impacted by online educational models. It is well-understood that early access to STEM and technology in general has a positive impact on student performance, degree completion, and science and graduate school enrollment (10). This growing digital divide and its sudden increase caused by COVID-19 will have negative impacts on NASA’s workforce in 10 years or fewer, when these students are (or are not) graduating from high school or with undergraduate degrees and are making decisions about undergraduate and graduate school and majors.
Ethical Exploration and the Role of Planetary Protection in Disrupting Colonial PracticesFrank Tavares, NASA Ames (; Mary Beth Wilhelm, NASA Ames ( recommend that the planetary science and space exploration community engage in a robust discussion on the ethics of how future crewed and uncrewed missions to the Moon and Mars will interact with those planetary environments, with a special emphasis on how such missions can resist colonial structures. Such discussions must be rooted in the historical context of the violent colonialism in the Americas and across the globe that has accompanied exploration of Earth.
Results of the 2020 Planetary Science Workforce Survey conducted by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division of Planetary Science (DPS)Amanda R. Hendrix & Julie Rathbun PSI ( the changing demographics and needs of the planetary science community is an important part of effectively serving the community. In this paper we report on initial results of a planetary workforce survey conducted by the DPS during 2020. Findings include that the majority of scientists use NASA grants to fund their research activities and that few planetary scientists have proposed a mission as a PI with white men overrepresented (compared to their representation in the community) on mission proposals as either PI or Co-I.
A Call to Planetary2023 Panels to Implement Actionable Recommendations from Recent National IDEA StudiesChristina Richey, JPL, ( demographic representation in the community is the focus of several other white papers submitted to Planetary2023, understanding the workplace environments beyond diversity is needed to assess both inclusion and accessibility. Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA, also referred to as DEIA) as they apply to scientific disciplines such as planetary science, have been intensely studied by professional social scientists for decades. Major reports have been conducted by professional societies and the National Academy on topics that are highly applicable to Task #9 of Planetary2023. Here, we summarize five major reports and studies and highlight the findings that would be critical to push forward in the planetary science community. Note, that each of these reports are hundreds of pages long and cannot be fully summarized in a seven page White Paper. However, we will highlight some of the findings and the recommendations from the reports to provide key information to the Decadal Committee.
Nonbinary Systems: Looking towards the future of gender equity in planetary scienceBeck Strauss, NIST & NASA GSFC ( equity remains a major issue facing the field of planetary science, and there is broad interest in addressing gender disparities within space science and related disciplines. Many studies of these topics have been performed by professional planetary scientists who are relatively unfamiliar with research in fields such as gender studies and sociology. As a result, they adopt a normative view of gender as a binary choice of ‘male’ or ‘female,’ leaving planetary scientists whose genders do not fit within that model out of such research entirely. Reductive frameworks of gender and an overemphasis on quantification as an indicator of gendered phenomena are harmful to people of marginalized genders, especially those who live at the intersections of multiple axes of marginalization such as race, disability, and socioeconomic status. In order for the planetary science community to best serve its marginalized members as we move into the next decade, a new paradigm must be established. This paper aims to address the future of gender equity in planetary science by recommending better survey practices and institutional policies based on a more profound approach to gender.
Promoting the ‘A’ in SPACE: ‘Arts’ run the places STEM takes usDr Abbie Grace, University of Tasmania, science and other space-focused activities are supported by increasing efforts to promote STEM subjects and skills, but it is arts professions such as education, governance, commerce, workforce relations, international cooperation, communications/engagement, law and ethics evaluations that support our work and are becoming space-specialist fields in their own right. Equitable participation in the space realm depends not only on looking at individuals' experiences, but empowering 'non-science' professionals to participate without having to leave their field of expertise - either by bringing their perspective into traditional space programs or by creating new roles and collaboration opportunities for space-educated arts professionals. As space becomes increasingly crowded and contested, it is becoming more urgent than ever to genuinely promote and resource these new crossovers of STEM and arts.
Foreign Nationals Employed and Studying in Planetary Research in the United States, and Recommendations for Supporting this GroupJennifer Scully, JPL/Caltech ( significant number of foreign nationals are employed, and/or studying, in planetary research in the U.S. Our recommendations for how to support foreign nationals fall into four categories: evidence, engagement, edicts, and empathy. Note: this paper is an abstract submitted for LPSC 2021*