Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
I am devoted to cultivating a culture of belonging in STEM fields in general, and specifically in my fields of research which include Oceanography, Engineering, and Robotics. I am routinely the only woman in the room, or the only person of color in the room. The ways in which that has effected my ability to speak up and collaborate are only recently coming into focus for me. Here, I share resources that have helped me frame the problem and move toward solutions. Here is the Resource Library we've been working on in the CDI with many accumulated resources including toolkits, calculators, and articles on many types of diversity.
Links to useful articles and tools
"In both the U.S. and the U.K., there’s a really strong, widely shared implicit belief—in the U.S., it’s the American dream—that success and worth are nearly identical, that if you are really rich, you must be really smart and hardworking, and if you are poor, you must have messed up in some really big way. People want to believe that they got where they are because they’re smart and talented. And that’s often true to some extent, but it’s also true that there’s any number of people who are probably equally smart and talented who are not in their positions, because of the barriers that are erected. It’s hard to sit with the idea that maybe somebody else deserves to be where they are more than they do..."
I'll never forget my very first research cruise. The deck orientation started with the Bosun looking at me and the other woman in the science party and asking the Chief Scientist gruffly "are all these women going to be working on deck?" Fortunately, we were stubborn and he was teachable. Within the week he had come to value our presence. However, it doesn't always go that way. People who say "well, yeah, you have to earn respect" are not acknowledging that 1) the new men he didn't know were not challenged to earn respect in that way 2) in many situations, where the person's mind is closed, no amount of quality work will change their mind about you. That first cruise was a long time ago, but as this article describes, there are still potholes to progress.
Good science thrives on exchange and critical examination of ideas and data. So science suffers when those practicing in a field are not able to find a voice in the lab or the office. We have understand that the existing structure places barriers that discourage the full participation of underrepresented minorities and marginalized groups; and we have to value breaking down those barriers together. Increased diversity has been shown to increase the quality and excellence of scientific endeavors.
This article does not address the very real additional barriers that can prevent underrepresented minorities and women in male-dominated rooms from speaking up, and the additional consequences we can face. However, it does offer interesting insights into the dynamics at play and strategies that I have been able to employ.
If you really want to understand your workplace culture, check the “unwritten rules.” You won’t find them published anywhere because they’re, well, they’re “unwritten.” But they can be the most powerful determinants of how people work together and the results they produce." It was only very recently that I realized that unconsciously associated being made to feel unwelcome with whether or not I belong. But those are two different things. You may very well belong and not be welcome.