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In the last of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Professor Belinda Colston, University of Lincoln, discusses how the ‘ASPIRE project’ is offering an innovative approach to improving Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Professor Belinda Colston is a chemist and has been in academia for 30 years. She began her academic life as a Research Fellow in the nuclear chemistry group at the University of Manchester, UK, researching aspects of radioactive waste disposal with the Atomic Energy Authority. After five years she took up a lectureship in the School of Chemistry and Physics at Leicester’s De Montfort University, UK, and spent a year in the Chemistry Department at Florida State University, US, researching neptunium kinetics in relation to nuclear fuel reprocessing. In 2003, she moved to the University of Lincoln, UK, where she is currently Professor of Analytical Chemistry and Cultural Heritage. Today her research crosses the boundaries of chemistry, materials science and cultural heritage, focusing on the underlying chemical and physico-chemical processes that affect the degradation and sustainability of heritage materials in a changing environment.

https://staff.lincoln.ac.uk/bbffcc0e-4c6c-4f26-8eac-9c42d70cd27a

http://eleanorglanvillecentre.lincoln.ac.uk

Could you explain more about the Eleanor Glanville Centre (EGC) where you are based?
In 2012, I was asked to take on the role of the institution’s coordinator for Athena SWAN. Through the role, I began to see the broader need to raise awareness and new initiatives to alleviate disadvantage faced by under-represented groups across the board. It was also apparent we were a long way from unravelling an effective remedy for this ‘unfair’ system we have created. I wanted to establish a centralised system where all schools were working together to achieve their EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) goals – I felt this was the best way to create a critical mass, and the momentum needed to effect change. I also wanted to bring together all the research related to EDI from various pockets across the University, not only as a platform to showcase the research, but as the first step to using our research to inform practice and policy. These ideas culminated in the Eleanor Glanville Centre (EGC), named after the 17th century entomologist and female STEMM pioneer. The EGC represents the University’s centralised EDI centre, the purpose of which is to drive cultural change across the institution to further the strategic ambitions of the University in terms of inclusion and diversity.

What do you believe is key to creating a sustainable inclusive culture?
In academia, we have been striving to establish a fully inclusive culture in science- and engineering-related disciplines for over 30 years. Despite substantial investment, however, there is little evidence of significant improvement. For example, in 2016, only 19 per cent of all UK professors in science-related disciplines were women. The reasons behind such under-representation are complex, with the most significant factors arising through cultures and attitudes in the workplace. If we are to build sustainable and more inclusive environments across academia, we need a step-change in our approach. We need to focus on long-term behavioural and culture change, rather than on improving staff statistics and performance metrics. We need to understand the strategies that work best, those that have minimal effect, and those that can cause unintended negative consequences.

Could you explain more about ASPIRE (Advanced Strategic Platform for Inclusive Research Environments)
In 2017, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced an open call for proposals to improve EDI within engineering and physical sciences. The EGC led a bid with the goal of developing sector-wide tools to support EDI. The ASPIRE project offers an innovative approach to improving EDI, with a primary focus on long-term behavioural and cultural change. The project will develop an evidence-based online toolkit to connect best practice with improved ways to measure, monitor and implement EDI initiatives. The aim is to not only harness the breadth of EDI practice to support institutional strategy, but to develop more meaningful and comprehensive frameworks for the impact of EDI initiatives on culture and behaviour.

What has been the impact of some of the EGC’s EDI measures?
The EGC is still young, and it is a little early to see impact from our initiatives. However, we have two initiatives aimed at those with caring responsibilities – which disproportionately affect the careers of women.

Our Academic Returners’ Research Fund (AR2F) was established in 2014 to provide support for female academics working in STEMM subject areas who are either embarking upon, or returning to work after, a period of maternity leave. The funding offers the opportunity for female scientists to continue their research and plan how their research commitments and aspirations can be supported during their leave. The AR2F has proved invaluable to sustaining research during the early maternity responsibilities, and alleviate any resulting disadvantage to career pathways.

We also started our Back2Science programme in 2014 to allow both women and men who have taken extended career breaks in STEMM subject areas to join an established research group, build confidence and gain contemporary research experience. The programme has been extremely successful in providing a stepping-stone back into academia.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Professor Belinda Colston here

The post An innovative approach to improving Equality, Diversity and Inclusion appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the fourteenth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Dr Anne de Graaf discusses the how the University of Amsterdam is tackling the social challenges faced by under-represented groups.

Dr Anne de Graaf is Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Amsterdam. Her field of research is peace and conflict studies. She holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and teaches Human Rights & Human Security; as well as Peace Lab at Amsterdam University College. She has written many books for adults, teens and children, some of which were based on interviews in post-conflict countries, where she has travelled extensively. Born in San Francisco, US, she attended Stanford University and has been living in the Netherlands for over 30 years.

www.uva.nl/diversity


What were your first observations when you took on the role at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in terms of diversity? Did you consider the too white and too Western accusation accurate?
Absolutely. We’re missing certain students and colleagues from under-represented groups. My initial observations were that the community was polarised about the pace and necessity of change.


Could you talk a little about some of the initiatives you have implemented since taking on the role, for example, the Academic Diversity Programme (ADP)?
For the academic year 2018-19, there are five priorities the CDO (Chief Diversity Officer) Team is working on with students, staff and the city of Amsterdam:

Students

  • Academic Diversity Programme (ADP) (peer-to-peer academic mentoring programme)

Students and staff

  • Enhancement of reporting protocol and complaints procedure

Staff

  • Open Communication workshops for people in leadership positions (raising awareness about implicit bias and aggression)
  • More equitable selection, recruitment and hiring policies (proposed new selection process, review of policies re. pregnancy leave, permanent contracts, etc.)

Amsterdam

  • Homework coaching in primary schools at pre-CITO level (in cooperation with partners from various Amsterdam communities).

The ADP was piloted by a student group, Amsterdam United, in the Social Sciences faculty last year and proved so successful that we’re expanding its reach to all seven faculties. Older students are paired with first-years who need academic and/or social mentoring to feel more at home at the UvA. Examples of students who have benefited in the past include first-generation and special needs students. The purpose of ADP is to support students in their own, unique way at the UvA, where everyone can be their unique self and where the diversity of people is used as a strength.


How successful has the ADP been so far in terms of creating a better understanding of the issues associated with diversity through dialogue?

The following is a quote from the coordinator for the ADP, Fatima Kamal, researcher and educator on the CDO Team: ‘The Academic Diversity Program (ADP) is founded on a pressing need. A large group of students struggle to find their way at the UvA because they don’t feel they belong. This leads to poor performance and dropouts. Some students smoothly go through their academic careers, while some face more obstacles than others. Some follow the traditional education route towards the university, while others have had to work their way up and eventually enter university with a propaedeutic diploma. However, not all students know that when entering university, other challenges await them. On the one hand the challenges of passing the courses successfully and on the other hand the personal and social challenges where students discover their identity, what kinds of people they want to have around them, how they develop themselves and also how they can feel at home at the UvA. Although there are a lot of initiatives that help students to pass their courses successfully, there are few initiatives that help them to fit in at the university. Thus, ADP was born: a mentor programme to help students feel at home at the UvA.’


What steps have you taken to improve the reporting protocol and complaints procedure?
There was a recognition that too few incidents were being reported, so the Executive Board has asked an outside company to conduct a Quick Scan of the procedure and determine its shortcomings. The shortcomings I am aware of are that not enough students and colleagues are familiar with the reporting protocol and it may also be that some people do not feel safe stepping forward to report people with authority over them. My team and I are in contact with various universities to research what can be done to improve the procedure at the UvA.


What have you learnt so far from the Open Communication workshops in terms of their awareness of bias?

That we all have unconscious bias and that this needs to be identified, articulated and compensated for. The conversation is crucial!

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Dr Anne de Graaf here

The post How the University of Amsterdam is tackling the social challenges faced by under-represented groups appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the thirteenth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Babiche Veenendaal discusses the issue of bias in relation to artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can be countered.

Babiche Veenendaal, Managing Director at Accenture, started her career as an entrepreneur with a start-up called @ Law. Aged 22, she wrote a book about the legal aspects of the Internet. When no law firm wanted to start an Internet practice, she began her own business. She sold the business five years later to Clifford Chance, where she worked as a lawyer for the next five years. Thereafter, she moved to Accenture, one of the most ethical companies in the world.

www.accenture-insights.nl/nl-nl/artikelen/wereldmeisjesdag-accenture-plan

Could you explain more about the recent study Accenture has been involved in, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Plan, and what the study has revealed in terms of gender equality?

The survey revealed in the first place, how much work there is still to do in relation to gender equality, even in a Western country like the Netherlands. A total of 607 companies participated in the survey regarding gender policies and practices. Several companies were either relatively unfamiliar with the topic as such, or did not have the information requested. We used a “maturity model” with four categories: Unaware/Blind; Neutral; Sensitive; and Transformative. Companies that participated in the survey did a self-assessment based on this gender continuum. About 27 per cent described themselves as unaware or blind.

While the business case is compelling and several companies are convinced to invest in gender equality, most of them need help in operationalising solutions to achieve gender equality. We have provided not only an overview of the issues and challenges, but we also presented tools for inspiration, such as the Gender Toolkit of IDH.

What is your advice to companies who wish to level the playing field in terms of gender inequality, particularly in relation to salaries, education, safety and union membership?

My advice would be to set clear goals and agree on targets to meet. Follow the example of the best performer in your industry in gender equality. Shoot for the moon, because we need serious ambition in this area to get somewhere. Make sure you do not only have female role models, but also male champions who really care about and fight for gender equality.

Where bias is concerned we need to start as early as possible, removing the bias of children. Many experiments show that kids already have a view of what men or women can become in life. We often use the quote “you can’t be, what you can’t see”. If a girl has never seen a female fireman or president, she might think this is not what she can become when she is grown up. We need to educate at an early age that everyone can become anything they want in the 21st century. Change the school books, change movies for kids and change the stories we tell our kids when we take them to bed.

Could you expand on the issue of bias in relation to artificial intelligence (AI)?

Research shows that the AI world is almost entirely dominated by men. Machine learning and AI systems offer opportunities to fix the bias and build more gender inclusive societies. Countries lacking key quality data will be unable to make evidence-based policies and, in turn, will fail to adopt measures not only to mitigate potentially harmful effects, but also to enhance and take advantage of these corrective opportunities.

How do you suggest we counter or govern such bias?

The low involvement and marginal inclusion of women in the coding and design of AI and machine learning technologies is leading to a variety of problems, including the replication of stereotypes, such as the submissive role of voice-powered virtual assistants, overwhelmingly represented by women. AI is replicating the same concepts of gender roles that are being removed from the real world. Take proactive steps towards the inclusion of more women in the workforce that design AI systems. For example, should governments require companies to proactively disclose the gender balance of their design teams?

In terms of the development of laws to avoid bias in our systems, how do you envisage enforcing such laws?

As stated, disclosure obligations are one way to enforce this. Also, there could be a code for behaviour and morals, just like lawyers and doctors need to adhere to, for developers of AI.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Babiche Veenendaal here

The post How can the issue of bias in relation to artificial intelligence (AI) be countered? appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the twelfth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Claire Annesley and Daniel Hajas explain how the University of Sussex is using Innovation to foster genuine equality in STEMM.

Claire Annesley is Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex, UK. Her research focuses on gender equalities in politics and policy and she has just completed a project on gender and ministerial recruitment. In November 2017, she was appointed the University’s Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Equalities and Diversity, a new role to drive the process of improving equality for staff and students.

Daniel Hajas is a Doctoral Student at the University of Sussex in the Sussex Computer Human Interaction (SCHI) Lab. In 2014, when still studying theoretical physics at Sussex, he initiated a student project to make STEMM education more accessible and usable for vision-impaired people. This led to Grapheel, a not-for-profit social enterprise, which was formally established in July 2017. His hope is that this innovation will transform access to STEMM education for other blind and visually impaired scholars – Daniel having lost his sight aged 17.

https://iris.grapheel.com
https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=inclusive-sussex.pdf&site=509

What should industry and academia be doing to foster genuine equality?

CA:Three things need to happen: we need thorough institutional and cultural change to make universities and industry more inclusive; we need to address all inequalities and how they intersect; and we need to make better use of our own brainpower to devise innovative ways to promote equality and inclusion in STEMM – just as Daniel has done.

Could you expand on your belief that trying to fit excluded groups into existing structures and cultures is not enough?

CA:We often see solutions to addressing inequality in STEMM that are about trying to boost the presence of under-represented groups – but into existing structures and cultures. There is a major flaw with this. What we often hear from the scientists with caring responsibilities or from the scholars with disabilities is that these structures don’t work for them. They need more flexibility.

Or we hear about cultures in STEMM that are, at best, alienating and exhausting – or at worst abusive. Here, I am talking about power structures or networks that are dominated by one particular group. Or the cultures of bullying and harassment that often come with some established power dynamics. We need culture change to challenge abuses of power where they exist.

At the University of Sussex we have started work to challenge these structures and cultures and develop a more inclusive campus.

Could you expand on the Westmarland report and changes that have been implemented at the University as a result of the findings?

CA:In 2016, our Vice Chancellor, Adam Tickell, commissioned an independent investigation into the University’s handling of a staff-student relationship that turned violent. Professor Nicole Westmarland from the University of Durham conducted the investigation and we have since implemented her recommendations. Our new policies and procedures make clear that violence and inappropriate behaviour are not tolerated in any part of our University community, and ensure that students and staff feel fully supported when such situations arise.

One example is our new Relationships Policy that sets out the University’s expectations and requirements regarding intimate relationships between members of staff, and staff and students. It does not introduce a blanket ban on relationships, but does require that relationships are reported – a sensible mitigation against conflicts of interest and inappropriate behaviour.

Could you explain more about Grapheel and the Grapheel IRIS app?

DH:Grapheel’s mission is to make STEMM education more accessible and usable for vision impaired people. My fellow students and I wanted to engineer a novel tactile graphics display, combining the concept of refreshable braille displays and tactile diagrams. The aim was to enhance the experience of creating and interpreting static, as well as dynamic diagrams, in a tactile form for blind STEMM students and professionals.

Then, with mentoring from the Sussex Innovation Centre, the Grapheel team shifted focus from hardware R&D to start work on the IRIS project.

Grapheel IRIS is a web service inspired by citizen science projects such as the Galaxy Zoo and crowd sourced volunteer communities such as the Be My Eyes initiative to help visually impaired people in their daily lives. IRIS connects a volunteer community of people with skills in transcribing STEMM figures into text, using accurate language and adapting best practice diagram description guidelines.

A first proof of concept was built in 2016 to model the interaction between the volunteers, users and the interface. Within two months, 10 blind test users and around 50 volunteers signed up from 13 institutions, across seven countries (including Germany, Brazil and Australia). The feedback inspired the team to start designing IRIS in a scalable and more robust form. The first public beta was built and released for testing in July 2018. The team is now focusing on building the community behind IRIS.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Claire Annesley and Daniel Hajas here

The post How the University of Sussex is using innovation to foster genuine equality in STEMM appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the eleventh of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Dr. Lesley Thompson talks about the role institutions play to foster change in gender balance.

Lesley Thompson joined Elsevier in 2015 and has the role of strengthening Elsevier’s relationship with senior leaders in the research world in the UK, making sure the company is attuned to the concerns of the research community and ensuring they provide valued products and services. Prior to joining Elsevier, for 10 years she was Research Director of the UK’s largest research council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

www.elsevier.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/265661/ElsevierGenderReport_final_for-web.pdf

Could you explain more about what you have been tasked with at Elsevier in terms of gender balance?

I have no direct responsibility for gender balance in my role in Elsevier. However, this is an area I have always championed, so I support the company by contributing ideas and being engaged. I like to think that by collecting and presenting the facts on diversity I have been able, along with many others, to encourage many to reflect.

What are some of the key findings in Elsevier’s report – Gender in the Global Research Landscape?

A few of the key findings include:

    • Women publish fewer research papers on average than men
    • Women are less likely than men to collaborate internationally on research papers
    • Women on average make up 40 per cent of the research population, but represent less than 14 per cent of those listed in patent applications
    • Women are slightly less likely to collaborate on academic corporate papers
    • Women are less internationally mobile than male researchers

Do you feel the progress over the last 10 years towards gender balance has progressed at a significant enough rate and are there any particular disciplines, which are falling behind?

Around the globe, over the 20-year sample period of our report, things have improved. However, the picture is very mixed by geography and discipline. Japan is performing poorly and Brazil well, but those are the numbers. The reasons behind them are very interesting and it’s only by providing the data that things can be discussed. With respect to disciplines, women are better represented in life science and health sciences, however in physical sciences women are generally and markedly under-represented, often below 25 per cent of the population in the geographies we studied.

Where has the greatest progress been made and what are institutions in that part of the world doing that others could adopt?

There are differing patterns across the globe and within a particular country there are examples of great practice. A couple of examples that stick in my mind are the introduction of high chairs into a research-intensive departmental restaurant/coffee bars, no meetings starting before 9.30am, and support to enable returners. I think one of the most powerful actions is to celebrate best practice and to share great example. Positive examples are so much more powerful than all the poor examples.

What more can institutions do to foster change and where do you see Elsevier’s role in changing the global research landscape?

The benefit of institutions benchmarking themselves is very powerful, especially if they have committed leadership who want to change things for the better. I know many senior research leaders who have looked at the Elsevier report and said, if this is the national or the global landscape, how does my institution perform against that, as we must achieve best in class. With diversity comes improved performance. Elsevier has provided those benchmarks. We also have a role in our publishing business to make sure we look for more gender balance in our editors and our peer review processes, including targets for women editors. We are also an important employer and so we have another responsibility in making sure our own workforce makes the most of all talent.

What are the biggest challenges you foresee in terms of creating a gender balance both in industry and academic sectors?

The speed of change is the biggest challenge. Things are improving, but is it sufficient to watch this change at the rate it is, or do we need to do more to promote diversity? The balance between men and women is a subject that is now firmly in the spotlight. The data for other protected characteristics is really worrying and needs to have the attention of all of us. Diverse teams are proven to be the most effective, so it makes financial, as well as moral, sense.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Lesley Thompson here

The post Gender balance: The role institutions play in fostering change appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the tenth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Norm Jones talks about the initiatives at Amherst College which are elevating diversity and inclusion.


Prior to taking up his current position as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Amherst College, Norm Jones served as Associate Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy Director in the Office of the Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and Equity at Harvard University, US. The office held responsibilities for the coordination of university-wide diversity and inclusion efforts, including oversight of the Administrative Fellows Program, one of Harvard’s flagship diversity programmes.  The office also oversaw compliance functions related to Title IX, University Disability Services and Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity. 


www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/diversity


Could you explain a little about Amherst’s position and commitment to diversity and inclusion?

Amherst has one of the most racially diverse student bodies among US private, liberal arts colleges. The institution is also focused on recruitment and retention of faculty and staff that more appropriately reflects the diversity of our student community. We are working to build a culture of inclusion, belonging, respect for all persons and a community where all people thrive.


How far do you feel higher education institutions in general have come in the last 10-15 years in terms of embracing racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic diversity?

Higher education has made vast improvements as it relates to increased racial and ethnic diversity of students. The extent to which this shift has been “embraced” is a matter of culture and climate, predicated upon changed behaviours at the individual, team and systems level. A fundamental understanding of intersecting identities should compel an institution to think about race, ethnicity, class status and geographic places of origin in separate, albeit connected, domains.


How important do you feel cross-sector interaction and collaboration is to addressing equality and diversity in public, private and academic sectors?

I believe collaboration is key to addressing equality and diversity, regardless of sector. Higher education has been an active participant in exclusive excellence. As educational institutions move toward inclusive excellence, we are drawing on diversity and inclusion successes in other sectors. The aims of these sectors are different. The shared community – students at various places in their learning – cohere to these sectors.


Why do you feel such collaboration is often missing and what more can be done to foster cooperation?

I think our culture has failed to think of education and work as a kind of extended curriculum. The arc of one’s development doesn’t conclude with graduation from college or even graduate or professional school. If the systems that guide the working world are partially predicated upon learning and development, more organisations should “hardwire” their structures with opportunities for workers and community members to deepen their learning in service of a common good.


Why is it important for diversity officers to steward the work of integrating diversity and inclusion principles into the day-to-day operations of colleges and universities?

Higher education has an opportunity to shape learning in ways that other organisations cannot. This is highly informed by an understanding of difference.  Diversity and inclusion work is often relegated to programmes, projects and initiatives. While this is important, the integration of diversity and inclusion principles into the operation of colleges and universities is a matter of ecology. The same principles that undergird programmes should undergird policy development, organisational design and (whole) systems transformation efforts.


Could you expand on a few of the diversity and inclusion programmes Amherst is engaged in and how successful they have been so far?

Amherst is engaged in several initiatives that elevate the importance of inclusion and belonging to an institutional conversation. These are propositions that transcend the student experience and hold important connections to faculty and staff communities. We are engaged in an oral histories project that asks students to find out more about the origins of their respective affinity groups by learning important histories, and connecting with alumni to discuss topics that are important and germane to their experience. All oral histories are done as internships through the college’s library and students are trained in videography, interviewing, transcription and editing.


What are the biggest challenges you foresee in terms of creating a diversity and inclusion balance, both in industry and academic sectors?

Most industries have not adequately dealt with the systemic underpinnings of discrimination. This inability to get to the “core” of issues that divide and exclude cannot reasonably be addressed through projects, programmes, or initiatives that do not take into account issues of structural inequality and systemic oppression.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Norm Jones here

The post Key initiatives at Amherst College that are elevating diversity and inclusion appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the ninth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Professor Fatma Mili explains the role technology plays in driving forward diversity and inclusion.


Professor Fatma Mili is Dean of the College of Computing and Informatics at the University of North Carolina, US. She began her career at Oakland University in Michigan in the US following a traditional path of teaching and research. In the process, she led large multidisciplinary research teams; giving her an understanding of the responsibility and joy of working with others to formulate a common vision and then enabling them to realise that vision as a team and grow individually as a result. She subsequently served as department Chair and Associate Dean at Oakland and at Purdue University. At Purdue, she initiated and led an educational initiative that transformed the College of Technology into the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

www.cci.uncc.edu 

Could you explain the background behind TransSTEM (Center for Trans-institutional Capacity Building and Educational Equity in STEM)?

Our success in taking Purdue Polytechnic from concept to implementation relied heavily on collaborations with other innovators who consulted with us, gave us ideas, debugged our designs and supported us intellectually and morally. This experience helped us recognise the need for a trans-institutional community for faculty engaged in educational innovation and institutional change. The three questions that drove our work at Purdue were: 1. How to prepare students for the future? 2. How to integrate research about human motivation and learning in the classroom? And 3. How to create a system that is driven by inclusion and not exclusion? We cannot address these questions in an authentic way without re-examining core implicit assumptions about what we do and how we define our success, our profession and ourselves. This is hard to do alone. We needed a community.


What are your thoughts on how technology is currently taught?

 
Technology is having a transformational impact on the way we live, the way we work and the way we communicate. The full social implications of these changes have yet to be fully understood. We somehow continue to perpetuate the myth that all science is neutral and all technology is good. This cannot be further from the truth, yet we have not changed our curricula and our methodologies to address this.

Engineering and computing curricula require a course on ethics, but it feels like an afterthought. Engineering Design methodologies and innovation curricula are even more striking in how they overlook ethical issues. Most of them are built around three axes: desirability – is a human need met by the designed artefact; feasibility – do we have the technological know-how to realise the artefact; and viability – is this a commercially viable product. In other words, social and ethical implications are not part of the equation.


At UNC Charlotte we are looking at changing our computing curricula so graduates are equipped with the intellectual tools, but also and especially the habits of mind to always reflect on the questions: Should we do this? Who benefits? Who pays? These and similar questions will be embedded in every design exercise. This means we will not rely on a separate walled off course on ethics to make “ethical computer scientists.” No course project or research project will be complete without a section or a chapter that illustrates that the student and the researcher incorporated social and ethical implications into their design.

You have previously commented that lack of diversity and inequity is exacerbated by technology. Could you expand on the issues you feel we are currently failing to address?

The issue of diversity and inclusion is complex. Its persistence cannot be attributed to a single factor. Its solution, similarly, has to be multifaceted. As with most contemporary issues, technology is sometimes part of the problem; and can always be part of the solution.

Inequity can be exacerbated and magnified by technology. This is why deliberate attention to the broad implications of any design is very important. Unless we pay special attention, our algorithms reproduce, magnify and legitimise our biases; our computing systems systemise and multiply our biased processes. Let’s take one example, inequity in education. Online education (and MOOCS) were seen to have the potential to be the equaliser, by broadening access to classrooms and faculty, and by introducing an element of flexibility. Unfortunately, in most cases the data does not bear this. Students who sign up for online classes are indeed much more diverse than those in traditional classrooms; but students who complete and pass the online courses are as, or more, homogeneous than the students who pass and succeed in face-to-face classrooms. This is a design issue. Technology-based online education has not solved the equity problem; it has simply duplicated and magnified existing inequities. With this realisation, many educational and computing researchers are now making a deliberate effort to understand what includes and what excludes in order to create inclusive systems.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Fatma Mili here

The post The role of technology in driving forward diversity and inclusion appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the eighth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Rebekah Martin and Liz Moran discuss how complementary global and local initiatives are at the heart of AstraZeneca’s approach to inclusion and diversity.


Rebekah Martin
has been AstraZeneca’s Head of Reward and Diversity since April 2018. She studied Biochemistry at Oxford University, UK, before qualifying as a lawyer in the UK. After a number of years in private practice, Rebekah joined AstraZeneca in 2011. Since then she has held progressively senior roles in legal, including responsibility for IP litigation, employment and handling the full spectrum of commercial legal matters whilst she was the Asia Area Legal Director based in Singapore.

With over 15 years’ experience in Human Resources, Liz Moran brings a wealth of expertise and skills to her current role at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals leading Talent, Development and Inclusion. In this role she oversees all aspects of talent management, leadership development and inclusion in the US market. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, she held roles of increasing responsibility at The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. in the global employee engagement and talent development COEs responsible for driving learning, engagement and culture through the creation and delivery of world-class global programmes and experiences.

www.astrazeneca.com


At SEC 2018 you will be discussing how global and local initiatives on inclusion and diversity can complement one another. Does this mean you feel that currently there is a distinct divide?


Innovation is our reason for being at AstraZeneca (AZ). Inclusion and diversity is at the heart of innovation and is fundamental to our ability to get better medicines to patients across the world more quickly. We understand that inclusive, diverse teams overcome challenges and solve problems more quickly and in a better way than teams that are not.

This means it’s important for anyone working with or for AstraZeneca to be able to be authentic and true to themselves – no matter their background or beliefs. Each member of the team should recognise they bring something unique to it. Tackling unconscious bias is a theme across the globe. Unconscious bias is a function of the neurochemistry of the brain – everyone has it. This means it’s a global theme that can connect with local initiatives. Helping people to reflect on what their own biases might be and helping them to find ways to mitigate them can be incredibly powerful.

Cultural awareness is another example. Understanding a different culture, or the ways in which team members are different, is critical. If we can understand and really listen to one another, we can be confident diverse teams are working effectively together. Thinking differently makes us stronger together.

That applies to the way we approach our inclusion and diversity initiatives as well. One size does not, and should not fit all. Whilst we have global policies and standards to guide the way we connect our employees to their colleagues in different countries and parts of our business, it’s always going to be important that people are supported and empowered to build our inclusive culture in the way that works best for their team.

Could you elaborate on some of the global initiatives AstraZeneca employs and how successful you feel they have been, for example, the physical workspaces scheme?


Moving towards iWork as our global standard has made an incredibly positive impact on the vibrancy of our culture and the collaboration that happens in the office. Having the combination of desk space, soft seating, collaboration areas and generally an open floor plan with colleagues from different teams working alongside one another has broken down organisational silos, quickened the rate decisions can be made and fostered camaraderie amongst employees.

The response to the Women’s Summits across the globe has been very positive, with additional countries building them into their annual employee engagement agendas. In 2016, the Women’s Summit won a CEO Award in the category of Great Place to Work, which is the highest recognition offered at AZ.

The Global Women as Leaders programme empowers women within the corporate environment to build their own personal brand, increase confidence, develop their ability to identify big picture opportunities, seek advancement by taking on more responsibilities and ultimately be promoted. Since its inception in 2014, 544 nominated women have attended this targeted development experience and over 40 per cent have already been promoted or given larger, more stretching roles.

Could you also talk about ‘Balance the SySTEM’, which you recently launched in the UK with the UK Government Equalities Office (GEO) and UK Women’s Business Council (WBC)?

AstraZeneca has partnered with pharma peers GSK and Amgen to explore ways in which we might see more women in leadership positions within STEM companies. The result of the collaboration is a toolkit/brochure, which could be of use in small to medium size STEM enterprises. The toolkit is packed with best practices across the three pharma companies on how to attract, progress and retain women in STEM, as well as how to measure success. While this is a new resource that has just been launched, the best practices included are applicable across the globe.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Rebekah Martin and Liz Moran here

The post How complementary global and local initiatives are at the heart of AstraZeneca’s approach to inclusion and diversity appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the seventh of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Dr Sara-Jane Finlay talks about the organisational changes that helped embed inclusion and diversity within the core of the University of British Columbia.
Dr Sara-Jane Finlay is the Associate Vice President, Equity & Inclusion for the University of British Columbia, Canada. She did her graduate work in the UK at Loughborough University, receiving an MA in Women’s Studies and a PhD in Social Sciences. She has held academic positions at Solent University, UK, the College of St Marks and St Johns, UK, and the University of Toronto, Canada.

equity.ubc.ca 

Could you begin with a little about the background behind the Equity & Inclusion Office at the University of British Columbia?

The Equity & Inclusion Office (EIO) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) operates in a number of key areas:

  • Through fostering and supporting strategic leadership on issues of equity and inclusion
  • Through capacity building of faculty, staff and students to ensure all members of the community can succeed
  • Through structure and system change that brings those who have been traditionally marginalised or under-represented in higher education to the centre of our work
  • Through strong accountability measures and compliance with relevant policies and legislation


What is the Equity Enhancement Fund and what prompted its formation?

The Equity Enhancement Fund supports community-based, grass-roots initiatives that enhance equity, diversity and inclusion at UBC. Each year, we receive about 60 applications across the two campuses. While the requests often total in excess of $300,000, we have only $90,000 to distribute each year.

Reviewing the applications and determining who will receive funding is one of the highlights of the year. We have been able to fund very exciting projects that have the potential for long lasting impact. For instance, last year one of the projects focused on assessing the experience of new racialised faculty and another was a joint application between First Nations and Critical Indigenous Studies and the Indigenous Media Collective at CiTR, to include more indigenous content in both their print and audio channels. It is easy to get excited about the potential of projects such as these.

Could you talk more about the new Student Diversity Initiative? For example, what organisational changes have you found are necessary in order for inclusion and diversity to be embedded within the core of the University?

Embedded is probably the key word here. The organisational change we have found necessary is to embed expertise in equity and inclusion into key units across UBC. This has resulted in a model whereby a staff member from the Student Diversity Initiative is embedded in key units. Each of our partner units, working closely with our Strategic Support Team, undertakes a needs assessment and designs a position to support the work of embedding equity and inclusion into the structures and systems of each of the units.

What problems and challenges have you faced thus far in terms of embedding inclusivity within the University?

Traditional models of excellence and scholarship can also be a challenge. While we know diversity in approaches, experience, ways of thinking, scholarship, methodology, epistemologies and ontologies leads to more innovative research, our methods of assessment and evaluation within academia are often too rigid or bound in disciplinary traditions to work with the flexibility and fluidity that might be required.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Dr Sara-Jane Finlay here

The post The organisational changes that helped embed inclusion and diversity within the core of the University of British Columbia appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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In the sixth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Anna Dewar Gully and Dr Kristen Liesch discuss the work Women’s Work Institute is doing to connect the dots in organisations between equality, effectiveness and profitability.

Anna Dewar Gully is an organisational strategist, women’s equity expert and founder of Women’s Work Institute. She received her Master’s in Public Policy and Management from the University of London, UK and, in her early career, she led a variety of strategic, public policy and equality building initiatives in the health sector, the broader public sector and with women entrepreneurs. She has also worked as GM of Strategy and Planning in Canada’s largest social enterprise, the YMCA of Greater Toronto, where she helped to refine the organisation’s strategic plan and most recently led strategic planning and policy in the City of Toronto’s social assistance system, where she redesigned the organisation’s strategic purpose to better serve Toronto’s most vulnerable residents.

Dr Kristen Liesch began her career in the education sector as a public school teacher before pursuing graduate studies and earning a PhD at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. During her graduate studies she became acutely aware of how slowly we are seeing progress toward gender equality. In response, she started Blue Switch Consulting, which applies a systems-based approach to diversity and inclusion. She also advises on numerous startups, and lends her expertise to various non-profit initiatives.

www.womensworkinstitute.com

 Could you offer a little background behind the Women’s Work Institute?

Women’s Work Institute was the by-product of a number of different light bulb moments for me. As an outspoken and ambitious woman, I could give you a thousand examples from my early life and career where I faced personal gendered challenges. Those personal experiences created awareness in me and a deep curiosity about other women’s experiences and about what organisations were doing to bring equality to the table. Initially through Women’s Work, I hosted public conversations in which I invited women to share their experiences on various issues, and to share their ideas for navigating hurdles and challenges they had experienced. I learned three things from those early conversations:

  1. These issues are very common and although we talk about problems at a macro level, we know very little about real lived experiences of individual women in specific organisations and sectors.
  2. Women have really, really good ideas about how to build greater equality in their own contexts and about what will and what will not work in terms of an intervention.
  3. Most organisations have relegated the role of solving inequality challenges to a department or leader without power, budget, relevant expertise, or access to shaping business strategy.

Those lessons helped me see the opportunity for turning Women’s Work Institute into a unique strategy firm dedicated to connecting the dots in organisations between equality, effectiveness and profitability.


Could you expand on how the methodology of the Institute differs from the majority of inclusion and diversity initiatives?

We deliberately designed it to be different. We set out to create a process to resolve some of the frustrations and pain points we had heard about from Diversity and Inclusion leaders and equality champions inside organisations. People were tired of conversation without action. Many of the solutions being implemented were one-size-fits-all and didn’t seem fit-for-purpose or appropriately nuanced for any specific working environment. People didn’t feel heard and moreover, conversations about equality were onerous and uninspiring, at best, and triggering resistance at worst. So we set out to design a process that was fun, engaging and uplifting, a process that could enable an organisation to tackle a known challenge to equality and to devise a solution that was inherently actionable inside that organisational context. We designed a process that brings the best ideas from people in an organisation to the table to solve a problem that matters to attendees and the business. All of our services are informed by behavioural science, strategic change best practices, and our own experiences of designing and implementing strategic change in large and complex organisations and systems.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of gender equality initiatives being deployed within organisations that are relatively ineffective (at best), and counterproductive (at worst). At Women’s Work Institute, we are committed to designing effective practices. We design strategic interventions that help organisations build equality in real-time.

Could you expand on the business case you put forward in terms of the financial opportunity that you believe gender parity affords?


There is no one-size-fits-all business case. The business case lives in each of the organisations we serve and is shaped by ideas we hear from the people working within that business. However, in terms of the big picture, it’s simple, women make up 51 per cent of the population, we make most purchasing decisions, the female economy in terms of purchasing is radically more powerful than most businesses understand, and we like to help women use their own experiences and perspectives about their organisations to educate them about the power of the female economy, and then they help us connect the dots between those opportunities and opportunities for women’s advancement. It’s women themselves who are best placed to make the tangible connection between equality, effectiveness and profitability.

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Anna Dewar Gully and Dr Kristen Liesch here

The post How Women’s Work Institute is connecting the dots in organisations between equality, effectiveness and profitability appeared first on STEMM Equality Congress.

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