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 this post, Ian, Emily, and the good Doctor give our thoughts about this past year of DiversityJC and some ideas for the future. Emily’s post is here.
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One of our topics this year was ideological diversity and the discussion focused on how to incorporate different political ideologies into academia, a generally more liberal place outside of a few disciplines (Economics, for instance). It’s not always easy – for example, we can’t incorporate creationism since it isn’t a science (and even runs anti-science, as when it ignores evolution). There are also some social attitudes that shouldn’t be tolerated – racism and sexism for instance (these things are present enough already and have prevalent myths surrounding them).
Julia Shaw, a scientist studying memory wrote a post for Scientific American “I’m a scientists and I don’t believe in facts” writing
“Scientists slowly break down the illusions created by our biased human perception, revealing what the universe actually looks like. In an incremental progress, each study adds a tiny bit of insight to our understanding.
But while the magic of science should make our eyes twinkle with excitement, we can still argue that the findings from every scientific experiment ever conducted are wrong, almost by necessity. They are just a bit more right (hopefully) than preceding studies.
That’s the beauty of science. It’s inherently self-critical and self-correcting. The status quo is never good enough. Scientists want to know more, always. And, lucky for them, there is always more to know.”
That is exactly how science works (and it does work, just look around at your entire world and realize it’s the result of curiosity-based scientific inquiry).
The science of studying inclusion and diversity is similar. In this case, research shows us that science is still not an inclusive place, the Nobel prizes being one example of that.
Inclusiveness takes understanding and compassion. All of us need to at least try and understand where the bias, fear, and even possible outright hatred come from.
Science breaks down and expands our perspective. It can challenge tradition and authority. These aspects of science are needed now more than ever, given what is shaping up to be an anti-science, anti-inclusive, anti-compassion administration. There are steps to take in moving forward, both nationally, but especially locally, as we go about our lives.
I’ve been introspective and thought a lot about how to be inclusive as a cis white male this year, especially as I’ve been writing more and more. Thinking about how to talk about these issues, because these are tough topics to talk about, and thinking about them because white people generally don’t experience them.
It’s all the more important to continue to have these discussions and figure out how to bring people along, raise everyone up (whether that is economically or in terms of ensuring everyone is truly treated as a human being deserving of compassion, empathy, and support).
It isn’t always easy. Being in a hurry, feeling under pressure and under multiple stressors in our lives (the raw chase to keep up, make money to live, etc.) can easily blind us to social issues, to issues of fairness and inclusion – or to see beyond our own experiences. Part of this past election was a sizable portion of people feeling disenfranchised. They voted for change despite the hateful language and actions of the “change” candidate. I hope more of them speak up to say that the racism, sexism, and xenophobia Trump espouses and is now appointing in his cabinet picks does not represent them, is not what they believe or support, even if they agree with him on other issues (sadly, I haven’t seen a lot of that out there, because it was a package deal). It’s important to keep in mind that Trump didn’t get the most votes as well. 90 million people did not vote, and of those that did not vote for Trump but did pick a presidential candidate, 74,000,000 votes were counted (to Trump’s 62,000,000).
Going forward, be kind, act locally to support inclusion and repudiate bias (even implicit biases as well as ones we might harbour ourselves).