Hadella, Lucia; Rapp, Claire; Arismendi, Ivan; Nelson, Michael Paul. 2023. An examination of race/ethnicity, gender, and employer affiliations on university natural resource program advisory boards. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-023-00852-7
Many university natural resource (NR) programs in the U.S. have external partners and stakeholders who serve on advisory boards. These boards can influence programs in multiple ways by guiding curriculum, program initiatives, strategic planning, and more. Here, we examine the demographics of NR program external advisory board members in 2017 (nine boards, 167 members) and 2022 (12 boards, 194 members), including perceived gender and race/ethnicity and employer affiliation. Our results reveal advisory boards are dominated by white men, with little improvement in gender diversity from 2017 to 2022. However, there has been an increase in people of color during the same period. The three most common employee affiliations of board members are NR businesses and consulting, government, and NGOs. We find gender is not evenly distributed across employer affiliations; more women are in government and NGOs than NR businesses and consulting. Because advisory board membership is often up to program leadership, external advisory boards may be “low hanging fruit” for improving the diversity of natural resource programs and departments. We recommend department leadership critically examine whether their boards represent the full range of partners and constituents with whom they wish to collaborate.
Keywords: Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Natural resource education, Forestry education, Undergraduate education