I don't normally post threads but thought this might be useful. As some of you know I've been meeting with some STEM societies over the last month as they rethink DEI within their society and annual meetings. These are a few items that have repeatedly popped up in my meetings.
1. Plenaries focused on DEI. Many societies are focusing on concurrent sessions but not plenaries focused on DEI. This sends a non-verbal message that DEI is not high enough of a priority to create a plenary around. In my experience when you run DEI sessions as (cont)
concurrent sessions the people who are already involved in DEI attend. Those who would benefit from attending don't. Worse, these sessions often get scheduled at times (early AM) when people won't attend. As a society you need to reflect on your reluctance to host a DEI plenary.
2. Who's on your DEI committee? Many societies are now ramping up DEI committees. However, many of those committees have primarily POC and or ECRs. In the case of ECRs while you wan't their energy and motivation to create change, they may not know how to navigate the (cont)
politics and "personalities" in an individual STEM society. This can render a new committee ineffective. Worse, ECRs and POC may fear reprisals for raising views that make people uncomfortable. Consider adding senior members to new committees to help effectiveness and the work.
3. Society power dynamics. This one came home for me last week in talking to the new chairs of a DEI committee who are also ECRs. In asking them about creating a DEI plenary their concern was that the currently proposed plenaries were organized by more senior scientists (cont)
who are "strong personalities" and "opinionated". They were reluctant to bring up the potential to create a DEI plenary. Here you are seeing that the dynamics of an academic dept have been allowed to replicate within a STEM society. Leadership within different STEM (cont)
societies need to step in here and ask if they are wiling to confront some of the power dynamics within their societies and how they may be impeding real change. I've seen variations of this issue across many of the societies I've spoken with.
To conclude before creating a DEI committee and having them work on DEI, societies need to ask themselves if they are willing to take a hard look at some of their more ingrained tendencies and change them before asking a DEI committee to help out. (cont)
Without this system wide change pushed by leadership within an individual STEM society, your DEI committee may serve as "window dressing". Change will require having uncomfortable conversations but that's part of the deal in working in DEI. (cont)
While this list (or issues) isn't exhaustive these are the items that keep popping up. They aren't necessarily reflective of all STEM societies either, some societies are doing better than others. Hope this is helpful and always happy to discuss. @GeoSpaceLatinx @GeoLatinas
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