The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched “The Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science and Technology Ideation Challenge” on Oct. 14 to ensure all Americans can partake in the science and technology landscape.

The new challenge invites anyone to participate by answering the question, “How can we guarantee all Americans can fully participate in, and contribute to, science and technology?”

The challenge does not include a cash prize, but instead serves to gather input from the American public on how to advance equity in science and technology. The challenge will be open on between October 14 and November 19, 2021, according to the White House press release.

“America’s future depends on science and technology like never before, and to address the extraordinary opportunities and challenges we face – to our health, our planet, our economic prosperity, and our national security – the United States will need to draw on all of its assets, chief among them our unrivaled diversity,” said Dr. Eric Lander, the president’s science advisor and director of the White House OSTP.

“We need everybody to be able to participate in and contribute to science and technology because different experiences and perspectives are the bedrock of new scientific and technological insights, because having everybody on the team is essential to America’s global competitiveness in the 21st century, and, because it’s the right thing to do,” he added.

The challenge is the second phase of OSTP’s “Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science and Technology” roundtable series, which the office launched in July. The five-part roundtable series is hosting conversations with researchers, thought leaders, and advocates on themes related to equity in the science and technology fields.

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In hosting the roundtable series, OSTP is aiming to “gather valuable feedback that can assist OSTP in assuring that our national science and technology ecosystem is preeminent, equitable, and inclusive.”

By establishing a new line of communication with the American public, OSTP hopes the challenge will “gather ideas that can galvanize action and spur new efforts that benefit the entire nation.” OSTP invites participants to share examples of equitable science and technology programs and initiatives, or to pitch a brand-new idea.

“Together we can create equitable science and technology that reflects all of us, from the community to the classroom, from the boardroom to the operating room and the laboratory bench,” said Dr. Alondra Nelson, White House OSTP deputy director for science and society. “Doing so is an essential part of serving and empowering communities that have for too long have been excluded from the bounty and benefits of scientific breakthroughs and opportunities. Equitable innovation can open the door to a better future for all people.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.