In this special release episode of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series, entitled “Just Diversity and Inclusion in Forensic Science,” Dale Hart, a Research Forensic Scientist in RTI’s Center for Forensic Sciences, and Donia Slack - the Director of Research, Technology, and Evaluation Program in RTI’s Center for Forensic Sciences - discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion in forensic science personnel.
Hart and Slack discuss their experiences in the forensics field as forensic scientists of color. They express how bias and under-representation can produce flawed forensic findings. After discussing their experiences in education and employment in the forensics field, they discuss how diversity and inclusion regarding gender, ethnicity, and race have impacted their occupational experiences and insights. One insight expressed is that although science is being objective and neutral in its methods and findings, there are certain areas of science where biases may exist, particularly regarding the physical characteristics of people. The forensic scientist’s perspectives and decisions, although influenced by scientific principles learned through education and experimentation, inevitably will be influenced by her/his personal background, distinctive knowledge, and socioeconomic experiences. Maximizing diversity in physical features and socioeconomic experiences in forensic scientists expands, balances, and restrains inevitable subjectivities in scientific decisions.