Articulating our commitment to Equity & Inclusion
Science Museum of Minnesota President/CEO Alison Brown introduces the museum’s newest foundational statement
In the early stages of development of the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit, no other museums would commit to hosting it because they feared it would be too controversial.
Not only did RACE defy expectations, but so far over 4 million people have experienced it, and 53 museums around the nation have hosted this trailblazer.
I remember as a little girl I came across a magazine article that said women shouldn’t pursue jobs outside the home because it wouldn’t be worth it by the time they added up all their expenses, from their wardrobe to child care. I thought that was ridiculous and pursued a degree in mathematics. I only had one female math teacher in my entire schooling career. And, although only 5% of Fortune 1000 companies and only 15% of the top museum CEOs are female, the Science Museum’s Board of Trustees fought the tide and hired me three years ago as its first female CEO.
These experiences can teach us that we must work together, not against each other. Let’s imagine what we can do, not what we can’t do. Imagine what we will gain, not what we might lose.
For nearly two decades, the Science Museum of Minnesota has been creating assets around equity and inclusion initiatives. In the last five years, we received more than $12 million to promote our work spent the last two years considering the role we can play on the national narrative. Together with you, we can take this work to the next level.
Museums will always be a place for fun, hands-on learning for all ages. They’re also a place to reflect on and talk about important, relevant topics. We must look at our actions with a critical eye. Who aren’t we talking to? Whose lived experiences are absent from our programming? Who isn’t represented in our leadership roles? Do we listen when families of color tell us that they don’t feel welcome in our galleries? Do we take action?
I welcome you to read the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Equity & Inclusion Statement, which is the newest of our three foundational positions. Each of our statements holds a specific point of view on important societal conversations and the intersection of science and our values.
Equity, for us, ensures that every staff member and visitor will have full and meaningful participation in science content, research, and STEM education.
It means you matter to us just as you are.
Our emphasis on equity and inclusion will have an impact that goes far beyond our museum’s doors. We will work with educators and community and corporate leaders to engage them in our equity and inclusion initiatives in service of our mission. This is an imperative for the next generation. Our young people demand equity. They seek its evidence in the companies they work for, the brands they buy, and the organizations they support.
The benefits of valuing and embracing diverse perspectives go beyond the healing of communities. Diverse teams are more productive and creative and support workplace culture in ways that we are only beginning to discover. Many states, including Minnesota, are feeling the pinch of a STEM workforce gap. When more people see themselves in science, we increase the talent pipeline.
Our previous foundational statements give us a platform for the work we produce and the collaborations we make. We are excited to work with our community partners towards successful outcomes from the Equity and Inclusion Statement. Let’s open the doors for others to experience the wonder of lifelong science learning. Imagine how proud future generations will be of what we stood for today.
Alison Rempel Brown