ADVANCE Weekly Roundup: Shifting STEMM away from Ableism

People with disabilities are drastically underrepresented in science, both as researchers and study participants. For example, over 25% of Americans are disabled but only 3% of the STEMM workforce reports having a disability. This needs to change, says Bonnielin Swenor, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, in a Q&A published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Swenor, who has a visual disability and who advocates for researchers with disabilities, headed a subgroup for the NIH that resulted in nine recommendations for ways to increase equity, access, and inclusion across disability communities.  

Swenor discussed the many ways that academic processes, such as article submission and grant funding portals, create barriers for the disabled such as the visually impaired. She also noted that, too often, the language we use, such as that found in the NIH mission statement, focuses on “reducing disability,” which is not disability-inclusive and serves to devalue those who are disabled. Instead, her report exhorts the NIH and other research institutions to engage with diverse disability communities, counter structural discrimination, and promote awareness and inclusion. 

Today’s feature was shared with the ADVANCE PI Team via a forward from a campus community member. If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog. To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at or visit our website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *