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.

Being a better ally: March discussion recap.

If we agree that diversity matters in science, then it’s also important we talk about how to get there. A critical part of that is learning how to be an ally for underrepresented groups – and this was the topic of our March DiversityJC.

What does being an ally really mean? I think a good ally:

  1. Recognizes their own privilege* and takes responsibility for it.
  2. Calls out behavior and issues, speaks up – but never over.
  3. Knows how to listen.
  4. Sees it as a personal responsibility to educate themselves on the issues around the underrepresented group they hope to work with.
  5. Is ok with being wrong, can apologize when that happens, and then move forward.
  6. Knows ‘ally’ is a verb.

In addition, Judy Booth (@BotanoCan) noted a simple way we can act as allies..

…and Ian Street (@IHStreet) reminded us that allies don’t take on that title themselves. It is not a self-proclaimed identity. We can aspire to be allies, we can want to operate in solidarity with, but we don’t get to call ourselves an ally. More on what it means to be an ally available here, here, here, here, and all the resources here.

Ian Street (@IHStreet)  also got to the more nuanced difficulty in identifying situations where we need to call out behavior or language. This can be challenging, as our privilege means those situations don’t affect us and therefore aren’t always visible to us. While it isn’t our ‘fault’ we are less aware, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the issues and learn to see those situations – either by reading, connecting with others on social media, or talking about them with people in those groups. That is, actually, how having a black friend can make you less racist.

However, it can also be challenging to navigate this if speaking up is difficult for us all by itself, if we’re more introverted. It’s also tough if we’re more junior scientists. Calling out a culture or a senior scientist can have real ramifications. For that reason, we need allies at all institutional levels, who are educated and willing to speak up. In addition, we can think of other ways to act as allies:

Ian also had another idea:

But others disagreed.

Moreover, if we choose to leave a field because it’s not diverse, it’s just as likely another white het/cis person make will take our place – potentially one less educated and ready to enact change. Plus, I really feel the issue is in changing the societal structures within our fields, and the responsibility should be with institutions to 1) recruit deeper applicant pools, and 2) retain and support more diverse employees. If we simply vacate the field, this doesn’t ensure that happens, and it seems (to me) to absolve those institutions of those responsibilities.

What we can do is choose to take our skills and experience to those institutions committed to making change –

 

Finally, it is really vital we know being an ally isn’t going to be warm fuzzies all the time. To be an ally, you also need to understand that you’ll be uncomfortable at times, you will make mistakes and say the wrong thing. Also, people are going to be angry when you move into these spaces – and they often have a right to be. As we know, bias and discrimination can impact not only our personal lives, but also so much of our careers as well, from letters of recommendation to our representation in the field, even in student evaluations. Being aware of the discrimination you face every day, and that it has nothing to do with you skills and talent and everything to do with things you can’t change, is really really frustrating. People get angry.

Another of the most difficult things is that acting in solidarity with does not means there may be LGBTQ+ or POC or women-only spaces that are less welcoming to you, even when you’re an excellent ally. We must understand that, until we are actually in the post-racial, post-patriarchal, post-homophobia, post-etc society, those spaces need to exist, and not  take it personally when we are, for once, excluded.

As an example of how this shouldn’t happen, in the year before I arrived, some female grad students at Princeton decided to have a women in science sleepover, women only. The male grad students were very hurt they weren’t invited, and responded with anger. As a result, at almost every meeting on women in science I attended at Princeton, someone always asked “what about the men?

The reason these spaces are tough is because as white, cis-gendered, heterosexual people, we have been allowed in and felt safe in every space we want to access. When we are first excluded, it can feel hurtful or insulting. We need to learn it is neither, and that other groups feel that way regularly – it’s a white, male, cis/het world, people.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the ally discussion or followed along! Feel free to add thoughts in the comments!

 

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

 

* Important! Privilege means you won’t experience something (racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamaphobia, etc, and how they translate into our daily lives) usually because of something you have no control over – your skin, gender, sexual orientation – but also things you do but should be your choice – your religion or wealth. It does not mean you’ve had it easy, or haven’t experienced discrimination in another way.