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Writing a Diversity Statement

Writing a Diversity Statement

Practical advice on writing a diversity statement, with a focus on faculty in the biomedical sciences.

Nathan Fried, PhD

November 11, 2020
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  1. @NeuronNate
    [email protected]
    Department of Biology
    Assistant Teaching Professor
    Rutgers University, Camden
    Nathan T. Fried, PhD
    Writing a Diversity Statement Workshop.

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  2. CoAS NTT
    Working
    Group

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  3. Today’s
    Outline
    Why is a Diversity Statement
    Important?
    What is a Diversity Statement?
    Practical Impact of Writing a
    Diversity Statement.
    Workshop – laying the
    groundwork for writing it.

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  4. How do we ensure our teaching, research, service, and mentorship
    works in this ever-diversifying student/trainee population?

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  5. What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?
    • “Diversity: Includes but is not limited to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status,
    veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual
    orientation, mental or physical ability, genetic information, and learning styles.”
    – NIH focuses on “underrepresented groups”
    • Black, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander
    • Student with disabilities (physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)
    • Individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds (as per the new 2019 NIH guidelines)
    – Other forms: Rutgers Camden is a military campus. Political leanings. Religious background. Immigration
    status/undocumented.
    • “Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to
    identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of
    equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and under-represented populations and that
    fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective
    opportunities to all groups.”
    • “Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes,
    activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power and ensures equal access to
    opportunities and resources.”
    https://community.naceweb.org/blogs/karen-armstrong1/2019/06/25/what-exactly-is-diversity-equity-and-inclusion
    https://citl.indiana.edu/programs/ai-support/resources/diversity-statements.html

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  6. What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?
    • “Diversity: Includes but is not limited to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status,
    veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual
    orientation, mental or physical ability, genetic information, and learning styles.”
    – NIH focuses on “underrepresented groups”
    • Black, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander
    • Student with disabilities (physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)
    • Individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds (as per the new 2019 NIH guidelines)
    – Other forms: Rutgers Camden is a military campus. Political leanings. Religious background. Immigration
    status/undocumented.
    • “Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to
    identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of
    equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and under-represented populations and that
    fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective
    opportunities to all groups.”
    • “Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes,
    activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power and ensures equal access to
    opportunities and resources.”
    https://community.naceweb.org/blogs/karen-armstrong1/2019/06/25/what-exactly-is-diversity-equity-and-inclusion
    https://citl.indiana.edu/programs/ai-support/resources/diversity-statements.html

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  7. Diversity Statements
    What they are
    • Used for applications and promotions in your
    teaching portfolio.
    • Used in grant opportunities from NIH/NSF
    and other funding entities.
    • Encourage thoughtful moment to address
    how you’ll continue to excel in your role on a
    campus w/ a growingly diverse student
    population.
    • A pause point to identify your own implicit
    biases.
    • A pause point to identify structural barriers
    within your system for the range of student
    backgrounds.
    What they are not
    • Progressive/liberal litmus test.
    • Busy-work that does nothing.
    • A moment to declare how you’ve got all the
    right answers and will “fix diversity”.

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  8. What’s in a diversity
    statement?
    • 1 page usually, sometimes 2 pages that is generally part of
    your teaching portfolio (or alongside other docs).
    • A “living document”.
    • Persuasive essay format.
    – Can speak about your own personal story or challenges
    OR focus on a thesis of why considering diversity in
    your discipline is important.
    – Should show discrete examples of what you do or plan
    to do (teaching/mentoring practices) to ensure best
    practices in a diverse college campus (big and small are
    both helpful!).
    • Example of mine (probably a bit too long, but I’m very
    passionate about this): www.neuronate.com/wp-
    content/uploads/2020/11/FRIED_Diversity_Statement_gener
    al.pdf

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  9. Pitfalls when writing
    diversity statements
    • Not understanding the campus culture or goals with
    diversity, equity, and inclusion.
    • Considering “diversity” without providing specific practical
    examples of barriers or fundamental understanding of
    barriers for some student groups.
    • Focusing on “savior complex” view of diversity, equity, and
    inclusion.
    • Perpetuating idea that we’re all equal while ignoring
    systemic structural disparities.
    • Not having a diverse audience look at your statement
    while finalizing it.
    https://citl.indiana.edu/programs/ai-support/resources/diversity-statements.html

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  10. A practical example
    From a faculty member involved in both teaching and research.

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  11. 54%
    350
    72%
    91%
    Of 5,000 undergrads in total

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  12. The science identity and entering a science occupation, Stets, Social Science Research, 2017
    Experiential
    Learning
    Increased
    Science Identity
    Increased
    Retention
    & Success
    The basic equation
    Find Faculty,
    Woo them,
    Volunteer in lab

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  13. 54%
    • Imposter syndrome on campus.
    • Knowledge & awareness gaps.
    • Fear & anxiety communicating w/ faculty.
    • Minimal science background might not make them a stand-
    out student.

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  14. 72%
    • Don’t have time to volunteer.
    • Precarious financial situation.
    • Irregular work scheduling.
    • Hunger, health disparity, homelessness.

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  15. 91%
    • That 30 min of Saturday lab work might mean a 2-4 hr commute.
    • Parking & transit costs money.
    • Lack of belonging on campus.
    • Keeping your entire day on your back (food on the go, sleeping in
    car, showering, etc).

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  16. Questions?
    • Great resources:
    – https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2016/06/10/how-write-
    effective-diversity-statement-essay
    – https://writersworkshop.illinois.edu/resources-2/writer-
    resources/job-search-application-writing/diversity-statements/
    – https://citl.indiana.edu/programs/ai-support/resources/diversity-
    statements.html
    • These slides are available at: www.neurofriedlab.com

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  17. Workshop
    considering the building
    blocks of your statement
    What is your identity & what practical
    barriers/challenges have you experienced??
    How would you define your student population and
    what unique barriers/challenges have they experienced?
    How have you modified your teaching, mentoring, and
    research practices to help students from a range of
    backgrounds? (one small example, one large example)
    What do you plan to do in your teaching and research to
    reach a range of students?

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