In this talk I will feature two interrelated studies. The first study considers how certain groups become underrepresented in academia. The second study addresses how we can address that underrepresentation. By analyzing data from nearly all US PhD recipients and their dissertations across three decades, we find that demographically underrepresented students innovate at higher rates than majority students, but their novel contributions are discounted and less likely to earn them academic positions. The discounting of minorities’ innovations may partly explain their underrepresentation in influential positions of academia. What are the factors underrepresented students experience that enable them to overcome these challenges? We find that women and underrepresented minorities are less likely to transition into academia than males and whites, but they increase their chances when they are paired with same-attribute advisors, and when they have significant group representation in their department. In contrast, male and white scholars receive no costs from different-attribute advisors and receive no benefits from having same attribute advisors. Thus, matching underrepresented groups with same-attribute mentors and diversifying hiring practices in the most imbalanced departments are likely to be effective targeted means of diversifying academia.