MSRI prides itself on welcoming mathematicians from all backgrounds and on actively promoting the participation, in its programs, of members from groups historically underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. Those include women, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, persons with disabilities and the LGBT community.
In 1993, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) established a Human Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC), the first human resources committee established by a mathematics institute. Now called the Broadening Participation Advisory Committee (BPAC), its charge is to aid the Institute’s efforts to promote diversity in participation in MSRI's programs and in the mathematics profession generally. For example, the HRAC sponsored the first Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (CAARMS), founded at MSRI in 1995; the biennial Blackwell-Tapia Conference, honoring the research of a mathematician who is deeply engaged in mentoring for diversity, founded jointly by MSRI and Cornell University; and the Modern Mathematics workshop, which takes place annually before the SACNAS meeting.
In 2020, MSRI was honored with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), PAESMEM recognizes individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to mentoring and thereby support the future productivity of the U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce.
The MSRI Undergraduate Program (MSRI-UP), perhaps the nation’s premier undergraduate research experience primarily for students from underrepresented groups, was founded by MSRI in 2006. In its first ten years, 169 students have participated at MSRI, with 85% of participants from underrepresented minority groups and 45% women. Of the 145 MSRI-UP alumni who have now completed their undergraduate degrees, 79% went on to graduate programs and 15 have already completed their PhDs.
It is MSRI’s policy that each of its scientific programs should have a diverse group of participants, with special attention given to gender and ethnicity. To help the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and the BPAC evaluate a program's progress in assuring diversity, a BPAC liaison is assigned to each program to help identify qualified participants from underrepresented groups and to help publicize the program among diverse segments of the mathematical community.
MSRI collaborates with other NSF funded mathematics institutes to promote diversity by organizing workshops and conferences aimed at broadening participation. Information on these activities can be found on the NSF Mathematical Sciences Institutes site.
MSRI is a member of the Alliance for Building Faculty Diversity in the Mathematical Sciences.
MSRI thanks the institutions and individual donors who support our diversity initiatives, including the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Microsoft Research, the Sunlin and Priscilla Chou Foundation, Ian Agol and Michelle McGuiness, Jennifer Chayes and Christian Borgs, Margaret Holen, Vinita Gupta, Kristin Lauter, Ronald Kahn and Julia Rowe, Marie Klawe and Nicholas Pippenger, and Helen and John Meyer.