The Second Job: An Introduction on Why STEM Is Losing Its Disabled Scientists.

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Image description: White disabled person icon on blue background, with person leaning forward. Gold science beaker as wheelchair wheel.

For our June Diversity JC discussion, we focused on #DisabledandSTEM, looking at research from Dr. Kate Sang on the experience of disabled scientists in the UK, and Working Life piece on her experience in the US by Jesse Shanahan. We were also thrilled to have both Kate (@katesang) and Jesse (@Enceladosaurus) join us for the discussion.

First, we discussed some semantics, which are important:

 

It is also important to remember that “disabled” pertains to a very large and diverse group:

 

And yet it is clear STEM fields are losing disabled scientists:

 

Our conversation quickly noted why this is, and the range of challenges disabled scientists in STEM face (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and their impact:

 

Barriers included physical access to not only areas for research…

… but also for support:

 

There is also the real financial cost that comes with having a disability – and let’s consider that on a graduate student budget.

 

The barriers and challenges go far beyond physical access and financial cost, as well.

 

…and this does not even get into the way in which disabled people are treated by health care professionals when they seek support and care:

 

One of the most important and poignant points in our discussion was how these challenges and barriers, in ways unlike any other experience, can force disabled scientists to make heartbreaking decisions between their science – and their health and lives.

For many, if not most, of us, science is where our heart and soul is – it is what we love to do. The idea of being forced to abandon our science is a hard one to even fathom – but it is a reality for many of our disabled peers, especially if they are without resources and support, at the institution, state, and federal level.

The importance of that support was also touched on in a recent New York Times op-ed on by Alice Wong (@SFdirewolf) , where the loss of support forced a major change in her career path. How may bright, creative, and curious minds are we losing before they even get started in STEM?

To avoid losing talented disabled scientists, there are tangible steps institutions can take to be more supportive and welcoming for disabled scientists, ensuring they can flourish in their fields.

 

Certainly, some institutions already have policies in place to support disabled scientists, but it is important to note that simply having policies on the books is not enough.

In addition, what resources, protections, and support are available may not be visible:

They may also require scientists to disclose their disabilities, which inofitself is a major challenge…

The stigma around disability means many people do choose to hide their disability if and when they can. This can limit visibility and access to support – but given how we treat disability in STEM, it’s up to institutions and the able-bodied community to ensure spaces are safe and resources are accessible. It’s on us to make change.

To these ends, there are many things able-bodied scientists can do:

Part of this is taking the time for serious self-reflection

… and it’s critical to remember we have a lot to learn, and we will need training…

 

But – what also stood out from our discussion was how much making science more accessible can help scientists and science:

 

This was our first conversation that focused on disability, and we hope to focus on additional and more specific aspects of disability and STEM in the future. Please let us know topics and research of particular interest to you!

Also make sure to check out conversations happening under #DisabledandSTEM, and follow scientists tweeting there…

[These convos happen Fridays at 8pm EST, tagged under #EnceladosaurusQA!]

… and mare sure your twitter is accessible!

 

Thank you to everyone who joined and followed our #DisabledandSTEM discussion, and special thank you to Kate Sang and Jesse Shanahan! We look forward to more in the future!

Emily (@dremilysklein)
Dr. PMS (@doctor_PMS)
Ian Street (@IHStreet)

June Discussion: Disability and STEM.

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Image description: Atom icon with disable person icon at center. Icons are white on blue background.

A theme which all participants referred to was fatigue. For many academics, our work is tiring anyway. But in addition, disabled academics have to negotiate not only the effects of their “impairment,” but also institutional structures for securing the adjustments they need to be able to do their work. Many respondents said that being disabled was like having a second job.

~ Kate Sang in her Science interview

If you’re on this blog, you likely care about (or are curious about) diversity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields. Here and on our twitter chats, we’ve talked about a range of topics related to diversity and inclusion within the STEM disciplines. There is one we haven’t touched on much, aside from our discussions on the mental toll of science careers:

Disability.

We don’t talk about it enough in STEM, even in discussions of diversity and inclusion, despite the clear implications for people’s lives. For our June Diversity Journal Club, we want to focus on disability and STEM, discussing Kate Sang (@katesang)’s survey of researchers in the UK (also check out her interview with Science on the survey), as well as a Science Working Life piece by Jesse Shanahan (@Enceladosaurus). Collectively, these two pieces provide both research into the experience of scientists with disabilities, as well as a first-hand account. We also encourage you to check out Jesse’s #DisabledandSTEM on twitter, and especially follow other scientists sharing there.

We are also very excited that both Dr. Sang and Jesse will be joining us for the discussion! In addition to questions on the research and their experiences, etc, we will also focus on a few key points:

  1. Do we consider disability to a large enough degree when we talk about diversity and inclusion in science?
  2. What is your experience as a scientist with a disability/how does your able-bodied privilege mean your experience is different from other scientists?
  3. What does your institution or organization do to ensure they are inclusive to disabled scientists, students, and staff? What could they do better?
  4. What can able-bodied individuals do?

We do know that the stigma around disability can mean people are uncomfortable being open about their status. If you would like to ask a question or to comment anonymously, please feel free to direct message any of us (Emily @DrEmilySKlein, Ian @IHStreet, Dr. PMS @Doctor_PMS) or the DiversityJC twitter and we will post it for you.

A final note that we are trying to ensure the Diversity Journal Club website is accessible. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to improve!

Hope you can join us at 2pm Eastern time on Friday, 23 June!

Emily, Ian, and the Good Dr.

Diversity and the March for Science, and an apology.

M4S
https://www.marchforscience.com/

A previous version of this post was titled “Decisive or divisive: Diversity and the March for Science.” For full transparency, the initial post is included below.

This post was deeply problematic for several reasons. Most importantly, this should not have been framed as a debate, or that the voices quoted here be seen as divisive. It is not a debate. Those voices are educational, not divisive. Diversity and inclusion must be centered within in the March for Science – and in science more broadly.

We will not hold a formal on Twitter this month, but instead are taking time to reflect on the criticism we received and use it as an opportunity to further our personal education on diversity and inclusion. We encourage others to do the same. If you have thoughts about the March and diversity, or related questions, please feel free to post them under the hashtag.

Again, I (Emily) take full responsibility for this and deeply apologize for my ignorance and the harm caused.

 

[Update:] Also for transparency, I (Emily) have officially left the March for Science, which I had planned on doing so today (Monday 17 April) as of mid-last week (before I was rightly called out on Twitter). I was only involved with the national committee so my experience is at that level *only*, and I only speak for myself, although the experience of others within the March and the way people both within and outside the March were treated and valued, especially women of color, greatly influenced my decision.

My specific reasons for leaving are all indicative of the fact that others have made clear repeatedly: The March for Science is an example of the deep issues within science itself. The only reason I stayed as long as I did was because of the other people within the Diversity and Inclusion team. It was incredible opportunity to have the change to work with and learn from them.

 

*** Original post **

 

The March for Science is planned for about a week and a half from now, for 22 April, 2017.

Full disclosure: I (Emily) have been involved with the national committee for The March for Science as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Team. I do not personally speak for the March, not here and not on my social media. So we’re clear.

The March has not been without controversy. Understatement. From arguing the March is awkward or the March is a trap to explaining why they’d rather not march at all, scientists and the greater community have been discussing the March since its inception.

One area of particular interest to the Diversity Journal Club has been about, well, diversity. As with the Women’s March before it, diversity and inclusion has become a critical aspect in the discussion of the March for Science and its motivation. The March has been called out for trying to be apolitical, for avoiding the history of science and oppression, and for not fully appreciating why diversity matters.

Scientists on social media has been particularly critical. Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos (@OtherSociology) and others have discussed the March at length under the hashtag #marginsci (you can also see her analysis of diversity on March social media here). There have been numerous threads on this as well, such as one by Divya M. Persaud that starts here [link removed].

The response to these criticisms, often, has a similar theme as well, that they miss the point, and can be divisive for a mission that requires solidarity.

For our April DiversityJC, let’s talk about the March for Science and these conversations. Are they meaningful or divisive? Are they critical critiques, or undermining the March itself?

To give people time to get to Marches, if they choose to, we will be holding DiversityJC on Thursday April 20th at 2pm ET.  Please join us!

Emily K. (@DrEmilySKlein)
Ian Street (@IHStreet)
Doctor PMS (@DoctorPMS)

Black History Month & the importance of mentors.

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*PLEASE NOTE A CHANGE IN DATE**: We will hold the Journal Club discussion on Friday, 24 February to accommodate the AAAS conference. Although we recommend amplifying the voices of your colleagues of color at the conference! Tweet their talks at us under #DiversityJC!

You can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, @Diversity_JC

 

For our February Diversity Journal Club, we wanted to pick a topic that allowed us to celebrate Black History Month – so in our case, black scientists in STEM fields.

You know, a regular complaint about Black History Month is the question, “well, where’s white history month?”

 

The answer, of course, is white history month is every other month of the year.

 

This is made clear when we think about the history of science we teach ourselves, and the role models we use to demonstrate who contributes most to the advancement of science. Overwhelmingly, we focus on white scientists of European descent. Every month is white history month.

 

Downplaying and downright ignoring black scientists has repercussions. It is hard to overstate the importance of role models and mentors. In being able to see people like you doing the job you aspire to. That people like you belong there and you will be valued in that career. This is one way we can increase inclusion in science – by having diverse role models.

For this Black History Month Diversity Journal Club, we’ll be looking at research that demonstrates black science students are more likely to stay in science if they have at least one black professor (the work is also discussed by Inside Higher Ed). We also encourage you to read about the importance of mentors for minority students (some examples here and here).

Please join us to discuss this research and the importance of mentors who look like you, as well as celebrating and sharing the stories of black scientists that serve as role models for all of us.

 

See you Friday, 24 February at 2pm Eastern time!

Emily (@DrEmilySKlein)
Ian (@IHStreet)
Doctor PMS (@Doctor_PMS)

2016 #DiversityJC – Emily’s Year End Review

social-justice

It’s the end of 2016 and it’s been a year of change in all sorts of ways (for hopefully good, but also almost certainly for the worse in many ways too, especially on the diversity/inclusion front as at least the US became demonstrably less friendly following our 2017 election). 

In these first 2017 posts, Ian, Emily, and the good Doctor give our thoughts about this past year of DiversityJC and some ideas for the future. Ian’s post is here.

Remember you can subscribe to the DiversityJC Newsletter to keep up with all our discussions and posts.

 

I avoided writing my DiversityJC year-end review for weeks. Sure, I was busy with work, and then with family and friends and the holidays. But… I also didn’t really know what to write. 

Revisiting anything in 2016 seems… completely overshadowed by the US election. The incoming president. His cabinet picks.


I was derailed by this election. Absolutely and completely. I didn’t do any work for days – weeks even. And I know that’s one of my own forms of privilege – the ability to press pause while I grieved and clicked on links and read posts and tried to make sense of what happened, what to do next. And wept.

While I’ve been back to work (clearly), I’ve still been struggling to come back to social media. Aside from the easy, escapist space of Instagram, my online presence since November has comes in strange fits and starts.  Engaging seemed at once inconsequential, given what has happened (and will happen), and all-encompassing – I have been absent for days to weeks from Twitter, but posted long-winded statements and questions on Facebook, laying aside research to obsessively follow and respond to the conversation that resulted.


Eventually, I found myself in this place where I was completely torn. On the one hand, I feel like I am not doing enough to prepare and to fight what is happening, what is going to happen – on the other, starkly aware of the risks to my own research should I take any more time away.

I was desperate for some time, some space to regain my balance. To see clearly my way forward. More days were lost as I spun my wheels.


Over the holidays, I was finally able to carve out a little of that time, that space. Not much, but some. I also relied on the voices of those more eloquent than myself:

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson: “Re-framing Ocean Conservation in this Post-Election Era”
Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman: “Why I am Committed to Fighting Oppression in Academia”


I also finally sat down to review the topics our Diversity Journal Club has addressed in 2016 – which was strangely challenging. I am so focused on what’s next, on 2017 – and, as I mentioned, it’s been really tough for me to look back at … Before. It already feels like another era.

But what I realized as I read over our recaps and intros that ruminated on why women leave STEM, whether we can overlook someone’s behavior in light of their achievement, on toxic masculinity and Nobel prizes and how bias and the imposter syndrome are connectedall of these things remain critical. Their importance as examples of why inclusion and diversity matter, how they translate into the science I love so much, the science that loves to believe it is objective and above such social ills – these matter not less but more in the coming months.

We also started out 2016 talking about what “diversity” means. That conversation had me reading some posts that were challenging and eye-opening (for me anyway), and thinking about why diversity matters beyond being the right thing to do. We also discussed what it means to be an ally, and why Orlando is poignant not just for us as people, as citizens, but also as scientists.


These conversations are still a form of activism – a critical one. We must continue to highlight and share the science that shows us how much inclusion matters, and that the scientific community is not above or immune to the societal ills of prejudice and bias. We must continue to talk more broadly about what diversity and inclusion look like, how social justice cannot end at a lab or office or classroom door. We must continue to educate ourselves and each other. If this election proved one thing, it’s that we need to listen more, educate more, engage more.

This is a crucial way forward in this new political climate. Conversations like those we have under #DiversityJC are more important than ever.


In the end, as 2017 rapidly approaches like a freight train, my answer came clearly one night as I lay fretting and awake: I simply resolve to work harder. One thing that becomes more obvious the older I get is that there are indeed no do-overs. We have this time, now. That is it. We don’t other chances. It sounds cliche and trite – but it also seems more true now than it ever has to me before.


My research will get done, but I also turn more attention and more effort to my To Do list – not just in the weeks following November 4th, but from here until we go back in the election booth in 2018, and in 2020. And beyond – bias and discrimination do not end along party lines. I am focused on a job that values and allows for social justice work as an explicit part of the package. I want to do good science – but I want to make science better even more.

Discussions as part of the Diversity Journal Club hold a central place for me to forward my own education, as I push my career in new directions, and, I hope, the education of others. I hope more people share the research and topics we look to cover in the coming months, more join us. I hope to post more here, too – to put this space to good use.


Our work is just beginning.

Emily (@DrEmilySKlein)

Albert Einstein: he was an introvert. What about you?

Your #DiversityJC Post-Election To Do list.

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This post was developed from both our discussion of what to do next under #DiversityJC, and from a great list of next steps from Erika Hamden. The point is you don’t need to do all these things. Choose what works for you:


1. Pick your cause and donate your money. This requires the smallest effort and time, but can make a big difference. In particular, sign up for automatic monthly donations of a small amount ($10 helps), as we need to keep support going beyond our current election hangover. Always search for local charities around that cause, but some national ideas below, as well as a great list here.


2. Pick your cause and donate your time. See any of the above organizations and search for ways to get involved or:


3. Get involved at work (yes I said it!): Many if not most scientific institutions, especially academic ones, have diversity initiatives, councils or commissions, and other groups. These groups almost always need volunteers to sit on the councils and be involved. We often assume minority groups will fill these roles – but they take time and effort. Shoulder some of that burden and step up.

  • Volunteer to serve on councils and commissions, attend meetings.
  • Ask your institution or organization about their policies on harassment and bullying, and how they plan on dealing with hate crimes and speech (just asking says you are paying attention to this and they should too).
  • Make social justice more visible by asking leadership what the institution is doing about inclusion there, what the initiatives and goals are.
  • Volunteer with harassment and assault networks on campus.
  • Request diversity training.
  • Go to social justice and diversity events on campus – they are for you, too. Sign up for list serves. Share events with students and colleagues (this alone can be huge for your own education, demonstrating their value to others in your lab and department, and making these more visible).

4. Bother your Congressional representatives. No matter what side of the aisle they are on, call them and tell them what you care about. Call them about bills they need to vote on and how you want them to vote – they represent you. Call them when they vote the way you wanted them to and thank them. Call them more than once. Call them every. single. week. Make it a habit. Here are some incredible resources, including call scripts and phone numbers: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/174f0WBSVNSdcQ5_S6rWPGB3pNCsruyyM_ZRQ6QUhGmo/htmlview?usp=embed_facebook&sle=true

5. Call Republicans. Whether or not you agree with them on other things, many Republicans spoke out against Trump. Tell them you support their decision to do this. Here is a list of Republicans who have spoke out against Trump in the past:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1w_EIOVLV0V7rJZhyqyDYG31P8h0cB3QJ3w6PErMJa7U/htmlview?sle=true#gid=0

6. Change your habits. If climate change and the environment matter to you, now is the time to make changes. Think about what you eat, drink, use, and waste.

7. Get politically involved: It is critical we actually vote in the 2018 mid-term elections this time around, and that we make a difference in our party platform. Encourage someone you know to run for office: http://www.sheshouldrun.org/ask_a_woman_to_run_for_office. Support and get involved with you local Democrat party chapter: http://asdc.democrats.org/state-parties/ and http://my.democrats.org/page/s/help-elect-democrats, or your local Republican one: https://www.gop.com/get-involved/

8. More ways to use your wallet. We’ve all heard about fake news. One way to combat it? Support newspapers and the journalists that spend the time investigating stories that matter (if you don’t believe me on their importance, ask John Oliver). Consider the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the LA Times, or High Country News (one of my favs for environmental news) and ProPublica. Also give in to the pledge drive and become a sustaining member of NPR and/or PBS.

9. Educate yourself. Even if you understand what privilege is and what microaggressions are, there’s always more to learn. Delve into the scientific research on discrimination or bias, read The Difference and Whistling Vivaldi, or just talk with (read: listen towilling friends, family and acquaintances that don’t look like you about their experiences.

10. Use your wallet, part 2: Support local artists speaking out, whether with words, lyrics, paint, pencil, or other forms of work (I recently purchased American Band by the Drive By Truckers, home of this song). 

11. Use your wallet, part 3: Boycott stores that support Trump and his children. Check out https://grabyourwallet.org/ for a list of retailers that do business with them or sell Trump products, along with a list of companies to buy from instead – or buy from local, small-scale business and put your money in your local economy. Feel free to call the big companies and tell them you won’t be purchasing from them and why.

12. Stay engaged: Sign up for newsletters that provide regular action items, then help where you can. These have small actions (<5-10 minutes) you can do regularly to keep engaged in the days ahead. Examples:


13. Be prepared: If you are a woman, buy Plan B and hold on to it. You can order it online or buy at a pharmacy. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.


Finally, social media and the internet can be used for good. There are incredibly helpful and informative resources out there and support systems available. More ideas about what you can do and additional charities to consider:

Slate: How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action
HuffPost: If You’re Overwhelmed By The Election, Here’s What You Can Do Now
Man Repeller: Post Election To-Do List
New York Mag: Citizens, United: What should Democrats in Congress — and Barack Obama, and you — do now?
Books to the rescue [of your hope]! The Chronicle: Weekend Reading: Searching For Hope Edition.

Also make sure to check out the Indivisible Guide, written by former congressional staffers on best practices for getting Congress to listen.

Some additional reading:
The Guardian: What will Trump’s presidency mean for American science policy?
Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman: Why I am committed to fighting oppression in academia
And to how the election hits us personally, too: Infactorium: Using Every Tool.


These spoke the most to me, in terms of my career and career path:

Ayana E. Johnson on National Geographic: Reframing Ocean Conservation in this Post-Election Era
World Ocean Observatory on Medium: The Election is Over. What Now? And How?
Small Pond Science: Write anyway*.


Tweetstorms have also been helpful:


Did we miss anything? Leave your ideas in the comments!


The bottom line from Erika Hamden (aka tl:dr):

“Donate money if you have it, Donate time if you have it. Don’t be complacent. Don’t think that YOU can’t make things better because you can.”


#BurnTheWhiteFlag.


It Does Matter, and We Have Work To Do: Post-election recap, Part II.

Speaking of using social media for good, some very important tweets from our #DiveristyJC discussion on the election. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

First, don’t allow people to tell you this, or that these things don’t matter to you:

Instead….

And we have to keep pushing on social justice in our scientific institutions.

For more on what you can do… stay tuned.