Diversity/Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

iGEM's work to fight systemic racism in STEM will be a work in progress. On this page, we will continue to share our thoughts, actions, resources, and invite our community to engage with the topic.

Jump to: June 19 Statement

Anonymous Feedback

If you have something you want to discuss with iGEM HQ relating to racism, diversity, or inclusion in iGEM, or you have an idea that you would like us to explore, we welcome you to please submit your thoughts through this anonymous feedback form.

The information collected will be kept strictly confidential, and will only be used to improve iGEM programming. Any feedback submitted or topics discussed will not have any impact upon team judging in the iGEM Competition.


The external links above are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the iGEM Foundation.

Share Your Story

We are collecting stories about experiences of racism or discrimination as a student/iGEM participant/member of STEM or academic fields.

Note: This is not a venue to submit official complaints to iGEM, but a place to share stories. If you have a complaint that you would like iGEM to follow up on, please contact hq [AT] igem [DOT] org.

Office Hours

iGEM HQ believes that you - the iGEMers - are critical stakeholders in the iGEM community, and we hope you will continue to help us shape our practices for the better. This forum is intended to give the iGEM community a platform to discuss and understand diverse experiences with racism. Through this dialogue, we also want to hear your thoughts and ideas for improving iGEM.

The first office hour is now over. If you have ideas that you'd like iGEM to explore, please feel free to use the anonymous feedback form above, or email us directly.

Black Lives Matter

June 19, 2020

Here at iGEM Headquarters, we have been discussing how to respond to the recent events in the U.S. Now, almost one month since the unjust killing of George Floyd at the hands of the police was witnessed by the whole world, we want to remind our community to never forget how it made you feel. If you felt a call to action, remember that. If it made you look within yourself, remember that. We ask you to hold in memory not just George Floyd, but also Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many others. We know one absolute truth: Black Lives Matter.

Is it enough to simply declare that we stand in solidarity? To make a corporate statement? We are not a corporation. We are not strictly educators. We are not an institution. What we do know is that our work touches many lives. Standards that we set in our small Boston office trickle out to the outer branches of every iGEM team – that’s thousands of people each year from over 40 countries, representing a lot of individual institutions. We recognize that sometimes, it is through iGEM that students learn about new concepts for the first time.

Some believe that academia and STEM exist in a vacuum, that the pursuit of scientific knowledge operates independently of societal context. That is simply not true. We recognize that the same types of discrimination that affect larger society apply to academia and STEM too. The fact that it should take a conscious effort for universities and corporations to achieve racial parity at all is telling.

iGEM stands against racism and inequality, and seeks to break down the barriers that currently exclude people of colour from synthetic biology. We seek to do this not in a way that tokenizes, but in a way that embraces the talent that the synthetic biology industry needs to fulfill its potential. We at iGEM Headquarters commit to taking action towards building a more representative and equitable iGEM community. Through internal reflection on our structures and practices, we are identifying tangible ways to implement this vision in our own organization, and we plan to share proposed steps with you soon.

This is not just a statement; we hope that this is the opening to much-needed dialogue. We believe that you - the iGEMers - are critical stakeholders in the iGEM community, and we hope you will continue to help us shape our practices for the better. We want to hear what you think. If you have something you want to discuss with iGEM HQ, or have an idea that you would like us to explore, we welcome you to please join us at an office hour and join a conversation, or submit your thoughts anonymously. You can find details for these activities here on this page.

If you have joined iGEM, we hope it is because you wanted to make the world a better place. iGEMers are building the most important industry for the future. How can it be fair, this time?

As a U.S.-based organization addressing an international audience, we recognize that our perspectives may be different to those of people participating in iGEM throughout the world. Topics surrounding race, sex, LGBTQ+, etc., may not be widely discussed in all the nations that participate in iGEM. Through these discussions, we encourage members of our worldwide community to engage with topics that we believe uphold iGEM’s core values of Respect, Cooperation, and Integrity, amongst others: https://igem.org/Values. If you would like to learn more about these topics, we encourage you to visit the iGEM Diversity and Inclusion Hub: https://2020.igem.org/Diversity


June 10, 2020

Today we stand in solidarity of Black Lives Matter through the #Strike4BlackLives. We pledge to continue our ongoing discussions at iGEM HQ on how to best support the Black Lives Matter movement, and what actions we can take to address racism in STEM, academia, and in society. #ShutdownSTEM #ShutdownAcademia