2016 #DiversityJC – Emily’s Year End Review

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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?

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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.


Does it matter? Post-election recap, Part I

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Does this election have to matter to us as scientists?

Indeed. It’s pretty likely that my world won’t have to change. I live in a white, liberal state, where “Republican” is usually just that – in quotes. We gave you Bernie, ok. I’m white. I was born the gender I identify with, I have an equally cis-gendered (cis=same), straight, white dude-life partner-person, so even though I identify as the B in the LGBTQ+ alphabet, I don’t have to tell you that. I already have an IUD.


My life, post-election, doesn’t have to change. I didn’t watch the news for years after Bush was re-elected. It worked that time.


But it does matter.


First, as a scientist, I am concerned about how our government treats science, whether science is respected and supported. Given the values of the president-elect, will the new administration care about science? What will happen to science-funding?


But it’s more than that. Here at DiversityJC, we discuss research around diversity in science, and how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields can be more inclusive.

If our small pool of resources for scientific research shrinks further, will there be support for science around diversity, for science that strives to address environmental justice, or social justice, or diversity in science – or will it be the first to go?

Given the hateful rhetoric the president-elect has used, will anyone believe the new administration will value inclusion in funding proposals?


This rhetoric and behavior digs deeper than the support of scientific research. In Diversity Journal Club discussions, we’ve talked about the importance of inclusion for women in science, (also here), for minorities (also here), and for men too (also here). We’ve talked about the impact of bias on peer review, teach recommendations, even the accolades we give out and how we view ourselves.

Science believes itself to be objective. Above the fray. But nothing sums up what I’ve learned along the way than the fallacy of that belief. Science has deep issues around inclusion that mirror those of society at large. We are not above the fray – we can’t choose to believe that any longer. The rhetoric of the election and the president-elect, the people he is choosing to have around him, the resulting empowerment of hate groups… if the issues in science mirror those in society, we have to face these things too.

For example, how about addressing harassment in the workplace? Sexism in hiring and promotion? His right-hand man allowed news editorials to be printed on how there is no bias in tech, us ladies just suck at interviews (no I am not going to link to anything, I won’t give that site more traffic – search for “worst headlines Breitbart” if you must).

What of our immigrant communities in science? They are cornerstones at academic institutions and critical for the scientific enterprise (don’t believe me, just ask Nobel), but this election…

For these reasons, this election was unprecedented. This president-elect is unprecedented. For society. For science.


Yet, even in this despair, I see hope.

This is the silver lining, this is the long-term view that gives me hope. I am hearing more people talking about issues they never discussed before, wanting to be active for the first time on issues I didn’t even know they cared about. Maybe more people will ask questions, will listen, will be informed. Maybe more people will start paying attention to news they read, the “facts” they accept.

But that hope rests on whether or not we keep this fire alive, this desire to fight. We can’t normalize this, ignore it. Stop watching the news to, as Doctor PMS stated, save our sanity. We can’t allow this to not impact our lives. Given where we may be headed, we may not have a choice.


So….what we do? Our ideas and tips for action in the Post-Election Recap, Part II.

What’s next?

We had a journal article picked out for November’s discussion. We had the introduction written.

 

Then, you know, the election happened.

 

We got a bit sidetracked. Given that the good Doctor and Ian can’t make our discussion time anyway, I decided I’m changing things.

I believe that this is a wake-up call for us on so many levels, in so many ways. I believe we can use our legitimate fear and anxiety and anger for good. I believe we need time and space to process and understand what happened.

I believe we need each other for all of these things.

Our next DiversityJC discussion (under #DiversityJC) is next Friday, 18 November at 2pm Eastern Time. To focus, I welcome dialogue on

  1. What we think happened to bring about the outcome (we’re scientists, so bring your evidence please),
  2. Our fears specifically for diversity in STEM fields, and
  3. What we plan to do about both avoiding #1 in the future, and to address #2.

I know this is basically open-ended, and I do agree with Ian when he said getting back to focused discussions about diversity and inclusion are important for moving forward, but indulge me. If nothing else, I’ll be using the time to really focus in on my own thoughts. By myself. Also cool with that.

Take care, take care of each other, and be safe.

Emily
Ian
Doctor PMS