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Survey on Gender, Equity and Inclusion



Mary Frances Theofanos, Jasmine Evans, Justyna Zwolak, Sandra Spickard Prettyman


In the fall of 2019, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) funded threes studies to better understand equity and inclusivity. The present study represents phase three of a sequential, exploratory mixed methods study designed to provide an in- depth look at the population of NIST federal employees to identify factors, attitudes, and processes that might result in gender- specific barriers at NIST. From phase 1 and the phase 2 in-depth interview qualitative results an on-line survey was designed to quantify the differences, if any, in the ways in which men and women experience work at NIST. The target population was all NIST federal employees, approximately 3,300. The sample size was 1,350, approximately 30 % of the sampling frame. The survey consisted of six sections and was disseminated by email to the sampling frame. Participation was completely voluntary. The survey was open for three weeks. 1,529 employees responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 33.2 % and 1,108 completed the survey (resulting in an overall completion rate of 72.5 %). Survey participants demographics were representative of the overall distribution of staff across Directorates, Operating Units, age, years of service, career paths, pay bands, and educational levels. The chi-square test for independence was used to test for statistically significant differences between the NIST population and the survey respondents as a whole, as well as between men and women. Statistically significant differences ( < 0.001) were found for men and women with respect to the organization's commitment to diversity and inclusivity (men are more positive than women) , on meritocracy (more women believe opportunities are based on who you know rather than most deserving employees) , and gendered experiences of being interrupted in meeting, questioning competence, and not receiving credit for ideas. More women believe they have to work harder, wait longer for promotion and opportunities for leadership. More women reported considering leaving NIST than their male counterparts. Both women and men agree they have equal opportunity to be hired, their need for work life balance is supported, that teamwork is valued, and NIST believes it is more objective than subjective and that projects are not more important than staff. Overall, the survey results align with the qualitative results and provide quantitative data on the differences in which men and women experience the culture, diversity and inclusivity of NIST.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8362
Report Number


Diversity, Inclusivity, Gender, Survey


Theofanos, M. , Evans, J. , Zwolak, J. and Spickard Prettyman, S. (2021), Survey on Gender, Equity and Inclusion, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created March 29, 2021, Updated November 29, 2022