With the sad news coming out of my country this weekend, especially the racially motivated shooting in El Paso, Texas, I feel that it is time to once again state that science loves diversity. I attended a local March for Science rally in April 2017, carrying this sign:
It is still true today and I stand by my DEI pledge.
It has been shown that diverse teams lead to better solutions to complex problems. People from different backgrounds bring unique perspectives to the group, seeing the available information in new ways that a homogeneous group might not notice. Statistically, diverse groups are “smarter.” It is perhaps natural to surround ourselves with people like ourselves, but this is not what is best for science. The next time you are assembling a team, strive to make it diverse.
In addition to diversity, we also need inclusivity. That is, those from backgrounds not in the majority demographic within a group need to feel welcomed and that their contributions are appreciated and worthwhile. Too often, the majority demographic can dominate the discussion, effectively making others feel sidelined and dismissed. Creating an inclusive environment means actively seeking everyone’s contribution, dissuading overbearing speakers from dominating the conversation, and being considerate and compassionate towards the needs of all of those in the group. This also encompasses confronting the tendency to drift into bro culture talk and action when white men dominate a group, and not assuming that an unknown colleague is male. It means being cordial in your correspondence.
Finally, we need to do the heavy lifting of equity. This is creating systemic change within your organization to bring about long-lasting diversity and inclusivity. This means developing policies, practices, and perhaps even physical spaces that promote diversity and inclusivity. This means training staff about unconscious bias, by-stander intervention, inclusive conversation strategies. And much more.
I am saddened and sickened by those that think violence is the way to create their vision of the future. I am saddened and sickened by those that think one group of people is intrinsically better than another. I am saddened and sickened by those that spew hatred for others just because of the demographic group to which they belong. Push back against this intolerant mindset.