Defining Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity to Build Better STEM Communities

Today we continue our series of regular posts on the Trellis blog for science community managers interested in diversity, equity and inclusion. This installment was authored by Rosanna Volchok, The New York Academy of Sciences. Additional series coordinators are Jennifer Davison, Urban@UW, University of Washington, Josh Knackert UW-Madison Neuroscience Training Program, and Marsha Lucas, Society for Developmental Biology. You can find all of the posts in the series here.

How clear our your diversity, equity and inclusion values? Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ekcragg/5896894236/
How clear are your diversity, equity and inclusion values?
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ekcragg/5896894236/

In our first post, we introduced the concept of the science community manager as an agent of change. The ideals of inclusion and representation are so deeply woven into the fabric of community that community managers are thus uniquely positioned to help maximize diversity and foster equity. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion? And, more importantly, why do these concepts matter when we seek to build community within and across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields? In this post we’ll examine these three core terms in more detail.

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Fostering Diversity as a Community Manager: Series Introduction

Today we launch a brand new series of regular posts on the Trellis blog for scientific community managers interested in diversity, equity and inclusion. This installment was authored by Josh Knackert, UW-Madison Neuroscience Training Program. Additional series coordinators are Jennifer Davison, Urban@UW, University of Washington, Marsha Lucas, Society for Developmental Biology and Rosanna Volchok, The New York Academy of Sciences. You can find all of the posts in the series here.

Why does diversity, equity and inclusion matter in communities?

“Welcoming and supporting a broad range of backgrounds, skills, perspectives, and approaches helps communities be most effective.”

Community can mean different things for different people – a collection of individuals with a shared purpose, small efforts driving a larger movement, or a support structure, to name a few. Key principles at the heart of all of these definitions are diversity, equity and inclusion.  Welcoming and supporting a broad range of backgrounds, skills, perspectives, and approaches helps communities be most effective.

Hands up for diversity, equity and inclusion! Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wocintechchat/25388901994/
Hands up for diversity, equity and inclusion!
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wocintechchat/25388901994/

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Survey snapshot: Communications practices of small scale collaborations

Last week AAAS and Trellis hosted a three-day NSF-sponsored INCLUDES conference entitled: “The Technical and Human Infrastructure to Support Collective Impact of the INCLUDES Program at the Alliance and Network Levels”. The goal of the conference was to explore how small-scale pilot projects funded at the initial stage of the program might scale to larger collaborations.

To provide context for the discussions of collaboration infrastructure at the conference, we conducted a survey of tools and communication practices of the INCLUDES pilots. Here are three key takeaways based on 33 responses, covering 27 of the 37 total pilot projects.

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Building the infrastructure to support collaboration with NSF INCLUDES

NSF, Trellis, and AAAS logos

In September 2016 The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued the first round of awards for the NSF INCLUDES program. It gave out 37 pilot grants and 11 conference grants to applicants who seek to improve access to STEM education and career pathways for under-represented minorities. Trellis is excited to be a part of the INCLUDES initiative – contributing to it in two ways. Firstly, we’re providing the platform for synthesizing insights and reflections across the projects involved in the pilot phase of the program, using a private Trellis group for INCLUDES grantees. Secondly, several members of the Trellis team are involved with hosting one of the INCLUDES conferences.

This Wednesday, April 12th AAAS is hosting a three-day NSF-sponsored INCLUDES conference entitled: “The Technical and Human Infrastructure to Support Collective Impact of the INCLUDES Program at the Alliance and Network Levels”. The conference is being coordinated by Trellis’s founding general manager, Josh Freeman, Trellis’ Director for Community Engagement, Lou Woodley and AAAS Director of Education and Human Resources Programs Shirley Malcom. We’ll be delving deeper into the tools and communication needs of the pilot projects and how these might scale in order to successfully create an NSF INCLUDES 
National Network Backbone.

Over 70 participants are expected at the conference, with at least 25 different pilot projects represented. Items on the agenda include insights from the Science of Team Science movement and discussion of a pre-conference survey which looked at the current tools and communication patterns of the pilot grantees. Stay tuned as we report back on those conversations next week.

Meet a scientific community manager: Shaila Kotadia

This month, we’re asking all community engagement professionals within science to complete our state of scientific community management survey. The survey’s intended to determine the variety of community-building roles that exist within science, and is the first activity of our Community Engagement Fellows program. We’ll be sharing a report of the survey results once we’ve analyzed them.

But just who are the scientific community engagement professionals? To help answer that question we’re running a series of Q&As with people in existing community-building roles. If any of these stories resonate, please do take 15 minutes to complete the survey! The more input we have to the survey, the more detailed our view of the overall landscape will be.

Today we’re featuring Shaila Kotadia:

Shaila Kotadia headshot
Shaila Kotadia is the Education, Outreach, and Diversity Manager at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc). Prior to joining Synberc, Dr. Kotadia was a Policy Fellow at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Kotadia received her Ph.D. in genetics and development from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her postdoctoral work at the University of California, Santa Cruz focused on cell division and chromosome segregation.

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