COSM Diversity & Inclusion News
The Diversity & Inclusion newsletter is delivered monthly via email during the fall and spring semesters and is always available on the new COSM D&I webpage. Send contributions and suggestions to any of the COSM D&I Ambassadors listed at the bottom of this newsletter and on the webpage.
Diversity Quote of the Month
COSM Community D&I Spotlight
Dr. Amy E. Potter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology and Geography. Her research centers Cultural Geography, Black Geographies, and the mission of Tourism RESET (Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism) of which she is a Research Fellow. The last several years, Amy has been part of an NSF-funded research team that has examined representations of slavery and the lives of the enslaved at plantation museums in the U.S. South. This research will culminate in a book entitled Transformations in Remembering the History of Slavery: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum currently in revision with University of Georgia Press. Her research team has also published several peer-reviewed journal articles in outlets like The Journal of Heritage Tourism, Geohumanities: Space, Place, and the Humanities, Geographical Review. Amy has been interviewed by the Washington Post, The Guardian, and Backstory History Podcast.
In 2021, she will transition to another collaborative project also receiving funding from the National Science Foundation entitled "The Role of Museums in the Landscape of Minority Representation." The research team will survey how African-American history and culture are presented at African-American history museums, then work with each museum's staff to develop public engagement projects. This research has become especially urgent to document how local museums are responding to geographies of racism and racial violence in 2020 as well as how these largely under-funded institutions are navigating the devastating impacts of COVID-19.
Dr. Amy Potter in front of a mural in Little Haiti, Miami, FL
Try This! – Teaching Tip
Do you ever share your own story in your classes? Acceptance requires visibility without derision and oppression - sharing part of your own personal path or focus with students not only helps them relate to and trust you, it can help them feel more accepted themselves. Try it next time if it feels right!
This Month's Theme: Being a good ally to other STEM professionals and students
Being a good ally to people different from yourself typically has three components: 1) Inclusion 2) Respect 3) Taking Action
If the idea of being an ally is still a vague, amorphous concept to you, that’s okay. The good news is that the habits you need to develop are the same whether you’re being an ally to someone of a different gender, race, educational background, age, or ability. It can also help you be better at communicating your research with members of the public! The Guide to Allyship toolkit is a great place to start learning, and they have a great list of Do’s and Don’ts of being an effective ally.
Allies help others - and themselves - be more successful
For example, women are typically more perceptive, catching social cues, connections, and ideas that aren’t ‘the loudest voice in the room.’ This means that not only are diverse teams better - they also have more equal participation from team members. The National Academy for the Advancement of Science released a broad summary in 2017, “Gender diversity leads to better science.”
Even so, the benefits - and challenges - of mentorship by diverse people are often a hot topic that brings up many of the deeply embedded biases within academia. A 2020 paper on the topic of mentorship has been retracted from the journal Nature Communications, after scientists repeatedly challenged it’s subjective methodology before and after publication. To quote one outspoken critic of the article, its measures of mentorship, impact, and their conclusion were “mediocre science, which is always the best sort of science for reinforcing discriminatory agendas.” View the article itself.
Being an ally to STEM colleagues and students has the added dimension of recognizing how laboratory, funding, and publication dynamics impact the ability of STEM students and colleagues to conduct research in their field. Has the student you are mentoring ever had the opportunity to be in the field or lab before? Young scientists in one or more underrepresented minority groups feel the added pressures of being in environments that are historically white, male, heterosexual, and cisgendered. Finding ways to support these people helps retain their experience and increases their productivity - not to mention their mental health!
Listen, don’t assume you know what’s best!
True allyship isn’t easy, and it isn’t fake. Let’s be frank here, false ‘virtue signalling’ or ‘performative allyship’ is a real problem, whether from individuals or businesses, and the positive impact it has is small (increased visibility of the topic) or even negative (because it’s distracting and superficial). Why? Because there is one key difference between allyship and performative virtue signalling: authenticity. This characteristic can be one of the most important aspects of our personalities for students to see in the classroom, for our relationships with colleagues, and for instilling trust when we speak with the public.
Let’s hear about what people of color, women, and people who identify as LGBTQIA+ would like to see in allies. Check out the links and short videos below.
Here’s What Black People Really Want You to Do (2 min)
As a Man, 4 Things You Can Do to Be an Ally to Women (5 min)
Being a Strong LGBT+ Ally in the Workplace
Being a good ally requires self reflection, otherwise you can’t respond wisely in the moment. It’s easy to be reactive when someone challenges your beliefs or treats someone badly - explicitly or implicitly. Take a moment to name one ‘hot button’ or ‘triggering’ topic for yourself that could get in the way of serving as an ally.
Example: Supporting colleagues who feel strongly about religious holidays is a hot topic for me because my own religious holidays are never acknowledged.
D&I Campus Connections and Opportunities
SACNAS Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science
NOBCChE A non-profit professional organization dedicated to assisting black and other minority students and professionals in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional, and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering, and allied fields.
STEM Veterans USA Our mission is to connect veterans in STEM with opportunity.
Georgia Southern Women in STEM Alliance (contact Sabrina Hessinger)
- Safe Space Training: Information about Safe Space
USG Diversity & Inclusion Summit: October 30, 2020
Center for Teaching Excellence: Workshop Calendar
- 10th Annual Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) Conference + Out to Innovate 2020: November 12-15, 2020
The Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit: November 4-5, 2020
Diversity in STEM Opportunities: Pathways to Science
Something you'd like to see? We'd love to hear from you.
COSM Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Leaders
Arpita Saha - Chemistry & Biochemistry
Brandon Quillian - Chemistry & Biochemistry
Karelle Aiken - Chemistry & Biochemistry
Sabrina Hessinger - Mathematics
Sue Ellen Dechenne-Peters
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Geology & Geography
Duc Van Huynh
Physics & Astronomy
Hua-Jian Jason Liu