EDI - Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
In the Crudden Group, we strive for equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our work.
I am passionate about the need to improve recruitment and retention of under-represented groups in Chemistry. I recognize that I am absolutely not an expert in this area, but I do my best to learn from those who are, and to use this knowledge to constantly improve. I see efforts to improve in this area as equivalent to a discussion of safety in the lab. This is never something that is finished, but always something we discuss and try to do better at.
In terms of the representation of women in STEM fields, research shows that women are now the majority of graduates in many North American universities, but their numbers in the ranks decrease at every new career step. Despite considerable attention to this fact over the last decade, numbers have not changed. Clearly more water does not fix a leaky pipeline. It is my opinion that systemic change is urgently needed and is not occurring at a sufficient pace.
Racialized persons, persons with disabilities and Indigenous groups are also badly under-represented in STEM fields. It is compelling to realize that Caucasians are the minority globally, yet we dominate STEM fields (among others). This can only be the result of systemic discrimination and colonialism. The catchment area for Queen's includes Toronto, which has 37% of all of Canada's black residents, yet our graduate and faculty programs are bereft of black researchers. Indigenous students are also underrepresented at all levels and have had lower completion rates for secondary and post-secondary education for the past 30 years. People who are not able-bodied and who are part of the LGBTQ community have a long history of being discriminated against, discrimination that certainly still occurs.
Systemic barriers facing these groups include the lack of role models and persistent gendered/cultural biases. Each group faces specific biases that include but are not limited to a lack of confidence in math skills due to gender stereotypes, negative cultural stereotypes, lack of role models, challenges belonging in white-dominated and male-dominated groups, and constant pressure to prove one's intellectual worth. While many of these barriers result from ingrained stereotypes and learned behaviours, it is important to recognize that there is also active and conscious discrimination faced by all of these groups. It is our responsibility as leaders to work to remove these barriers and improve inclusivity both because it is the right thing to do and also to make sure our ranks are made up of the best and brightest of all people, not just the best from a small group of the historically privileged.
Although I have always had a very diverse group in terms of gender and ethnicity, I have had a limited number of Black and Indigenous students. It is a personal goal of mine to increase recruitment of Black and Indigenous group members, and going along with these recruitment efforts, to constantly work on improving inclusivity to ensure the success of all team members.
On social media, I try to amplify voices of minoritized people and I strive to take action on my beliefs, as indicated by my recent resignation from the board of a major journal after the publication of an article espousing views on women and non-North American scientists that I vehemently disagreed with. Recognizing that minoritized people tend not to apply for positions where their expertise is not a perfect match, I strive to be broad in the description of desired skill sets for advertised positions.
I also work to ensure that training opportunities are distributed equitably and inclusively among group members. As a PI, there is a tendency to have only the best speakers give presentations to visiting speakers. This can lead to marginalization of equity-deserving HQP, who may not be as comfortable in front of an audience, and results in a disparity in training. I ensure that access to conferences and travel is available all members including for those who have young families. Previous trainees from my lab have publicly noted that the support I provided for families, including help finding day cares, schools, and assistance with spousal placement, were instrumental to their decision to join the lab, and their success while here.
Setting reasonable expectations of work hours is critical to support HQP with children or anyone with extra responsibilities outside of work. I recently discussed this in a scientific talk at an ACS meeting when highlighting the achievements of a group member with children, which drew applause in the middle of my talk. It is my personal opinion that a focus on work hours is derived from outdated ideas about productivity stemming from the manufacturing era / assembly lines. For me, I want my people to be well-rested, able to think clearly and creatively about their work, and contributing intellectually to both their own immediate work and overall research direction.
I am extremely proud that my students are actively involved in promoting EDI, including giving talks on challenges navigating higher education as a Mi'kmaq student, membership on local and national committees with EDI mandates, hosting a round-table discussion on mental health at the national LOGIC 2020 conference, traveling to first-nations locations to speak about science, and both organizing and speaking at international women in science events.
To continue our education in the area, we run regular EDI workshops for the group given by experts at Queen's and have added an EDI portion to our group meetings.
Inclusivity includes social events. Work events and group social events are scheduled during weekdays and social events are designed to be as child friendly and inclusive as possible.
Please note that our EDI efforts are a work in progress, as am I. If you have feedback on this section or would like to reach out to discuss please do!