Diversity and Culture of Inclusion Strategy

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

The history of the scientific enterprise demonstrates that it has supported gender, identity, and racial inequity. Further, its institutions have allowed discrimination, harassment, and personal harm of racialized persons and women. This has resulted in a suboptimal and demographically narrow research and innovation system, a concomitant limited lens on research agendas, and less effective knowledge translation between science and society. We argue that, to reverse this situation, the scientific community must reexamine its values and then collectively embark upon a moonshot-level new agenda for equity.

    Graves JL. Kearney M. Barabino G. and Malcolm S. Inequality in Science and the Case for a New Agenda, PNAS. Vol. 119 No. e2117831119.

PreMiEr’s reexamination of long-standing core scientific fallacies concerning DCI drives its strategic approach to redressing inequality in the scientific enterprise.  We do not locate the underrepresentation of racially marginalized persons, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals in science careers in attributes or attitudes of these persons, but in the broader oppressive characteristics of society.

Recognizing this we aim to address these misconceptions head on, beginning with DCI training to be conducted with all leadership, faculty, and graduate trainees participating in PreMiEr.  This will allow us to build a diverse faculty and trainee population and thus broaden participation in STEM for historically marginalized communities.

We will work with the our various Graduate Students Associations to advertise PreMiEr via projects such as the Graduate Visitation Program (Duke), that targets students in the Mellon and Meyerhoff Programs, participation in the National Name Exchange, and direct mailings to Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). PreMiEr will also actively recruit applicants through visits to each of its partner institutions, student chapters and college fairs, such as annual meetings such as Annual Biomedical Conference for Minoritized Students (ABRCMS), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).  On all our campuses we will also use a holistic admission process to minimize biases, a practice known to increase diversity of admitted trainees.

A key aspect of the successful training of diverse graduate students is fostering an environment that promotes an equitable academic and social life where minority scholars flourish. PreMiEr leadership team includes individuals with ample experience achieving these goals in a variety of academic venues. Tool that we will use to foster an inclusive and equitable climate include: 1) cross-institution seed grant opportunities, lab rotations, formal/informal vertically integrated mentoring networks with  culturally responsive mentor/mentee training that promotes retention and sense of belonging; 2) leadership development for ERC leaders/mentors including effective communication strategies, fostering a thriving & engaging environment, and promoting an inclusive environment; and 3) feedback from PreMiEr’s advisory boards to our Executive and Steering Committees.