Too often, we treat diversity issues as only relevant to the group being affected. However, realizing equity doesn’t just benefit the marginalized; having a more inclusive culture has far-reaching benefits for everyone in an organization.
Through my diversity efforts, I strive to include everyone in the conversation. Inclusion isn’t a zero-sum game, and I want to change the perception that many people have that this is so. I strongly believe in the power of allies to change the conversation and realize true equity.
Society of Women Engineers
When I started graduate school at Yale, a fledgling SWE group existed on campus. I spent the spring of my first year advising the undergrad e-board and helping them develop a stronger presence on campus. After conversations with other graduate students, that summer I founded a graduate student SWE group. Over the next two years, I orchestrated Yale SWE’s efforts to become a recognized SWE section—something we succeeded at in February 2016. I served as the president of our new SWE section for two years, while still continuing to run the gradSWE group. In the summer of 2017, I transitioned from these roles to a position on the society-wide gradSWE Leadership Team (Diversity and Inclusion Liaison). As the initial gradSWE Diversity and Inclusion Liaison, I helped establish contacts between SWEs many diversity affinity groups and graduate students. You can read more about my efforts on the GradSWE Leadership Team blog.
Equity in the Job Search Symposium
At some point, every graduate student worries about the job search. However, those who don’t belong to a marginalized group or who have never experienced gender bias first hand, may never consider how issues of gender equity influence the job search.
In 2016, Amanda Lounsbury and I developed the Equity in the Job Search Symposium to expand the conversation of gender equity in STEM beyond those who have faced the hurdles of gender bias directly. We had two goals with the symposium:
To increase awareness among the attendees about implicit bias;
To provide resources and support for those initiating the job search.
Going into its third year, I have seen this symposium succeed at both of these goals. While more work remains to be done, by offering tangible career advice alongside discussions of gender bias, we have exposed a broader segment of the graduate school population to these issues. We believe, and the feedback from the event indicates, this integration of practical career advice with a data-driven discussion of gender bias has increased the impact of our event.
“I have already seen positive impacts from the symposium, and you should be proud for creating positive change in our departments!"
"I most liked how the keynote was an evidence-based talk. The audience (being people in academia) were strongly impacted by the refined and polished keynote."
The Equity in the Job Search Symposium continues to expand its reach:
Desiree Plata, a professor at MIT, and I hosted a half-day version at the Association for Environmental Engineers and Scientists Conference at Arizona State University in May 2019. This condensed version presented an overview of the field of gender bias research, as well as provided guidance on mentoring and navigating the academic job search. A mix of graduate students, postdocs, and faculty all attended the workshop, finding it full of useful strategies that they could use as they apply for jobs and to bring back to their campuses.
Additionally, the fourth annual Equity in the Job Search Symposium is already being organized and will be open for the first time to students from universities other than Yale. I am excited to see how it continues to flourish with new leaders, as I move on to the University of Michigan.