The missing millions
Democratizing computation and data to bridge digital divides and increase access to science for underrepresented communities
Blatecky, A., Clarke, D., Cutcher-Gershenfeld, J., Dent, D., Hipp, R., Hunsinger, A., Kuslikis, A., & Michael, L. (2021). The missing millions: Democratizing computation and data to bridge digital divides and increase access to science for underrepresented communities. National Science Foundation.
Research computing infrastructure—one component of what the National Science Foundation (NSF) terms cyberinfrastructure (CI)—has led the world in transformational ways, but with considerable gaps in services for software and data capabilities. Moreover, the composition of the people supporting and utilizing the cyberinfrastructure does not sufficiently represent the diversity of society. The scale of the challenge is reflected in what the NSF leadership and National Science Board (NSB) terms the “missing millions”—those who are yet to be engaged for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce so that it reflects the racial, ethic, and gender representation in the general population. Broadening the accessibility of CI investments to reach the missing millions promises tremendous gains for the national research enterprise and its impacts on society (https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/committees/vision2020cmte/NSB-missing-millions-figure-063021.png).
The grant supporting this research, “EAGER: Democratizing the Use of Advanced Computational Resources (NSF OAC 2127459),” comes at a time when there is growing support to increase societal investments in science and technology. This report complements the White House Executive Order 13985 on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which highlights the central role of improved data in order to achieve greater equity across government agencies. This report also complements the White House Memo (27 August 2021) entitled “Multi-Agency Research and Development Priorities for the FY 2023 Budget” and addresses several R&D priorities. The 1950 founding legislation establishing NSF (Public Law 507) cautioned against “undue concentration of such research and education,” and this report is designed to help deliver on this requirement. At stake are not just increased equity in science and engineering (S&E) investments, but also the new knowledge and beneficial impacts that will be possible when the missing millions are fully contributing to and supported by both the S&E enterprise and CI investments.
NSF OAC 2127459