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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology

Psychology Matters

Diversity Matters

mcgrathBy Kimberly Chiew, PhD and Maggie O'Reilly Treter
Assistant Professor and Graduate Student

 

 

Throughout a tumultuous 2017, issues of gender equity and disparity have been featured front and center in public conversation and the media, cumulating in Time magazine naming the Silence Breakers – those who brought several high-profile cases of sexual harassment into the spotlight – as their Persons of the Year. While recent news events have brought gender issues to the forefront, the work of promoting gender equity and inclusion remains ongoing.

The Gender Issues in Science (GIS) discussion group was formed in Fall 2017 in DU's Psychology Department. Inspired by similar informal organizations at other institutions including Rutgers University and Duke University, our goal is to create a supportive community for professional development and the promotion of inclusion. As a group, we discuss gender issues in academia, including the benefits, challenges, and skills required of being a woman in science; the experiences and challenges of transgender and non-binary individuals in science; and the contributions that individuals of all genders can offer towards building a scientific community that is inclusive and welcoming to all. In part, the GIS group is intended as a response to the "leaky pipeline" situation in academia, wherein women earn more than 50% of associate, bachelor, master's, and doctoral degrees across academic disciplines, but only 32% of full professors are female1. Additionally, women face a consistent gap in pay and resources relative to male counterparts1. As a group, we aim to respond to this discrepancy by educating ourselves about gender issues in psychology and science more broadly, generating productive dialogue about these issues, and identifying potential actions we can take to promote gender inclusion locally and in the broader scientific community.

Creation of the GIS group has been met with enthusiasm and interest in the department among trainees and faculty alike. As a group, we've held productive discussion around important topics including unconscious bias in the workplace and in our own perceptions, as well as potential intervention approaches to combat these biases. Relevant readings intended for both an academic and broad readership are discussed. We are looking forward to discussing additional topics at upcoming meetings, including parenthood and family issues, leadership dynamics, disclosure, and the role of gender identity. In addition to these conversations, we're excited to be developing programming to build professional skills such as effective communication and negotiation, as well as identifying potential discussion speakers from DU and the broader community and inviting them to share their experiences with us.

While the sources of gender disparity are complex and solutions are not simple, the GIS group is excited to be establishing a space where members of the department community can discuss these issues, gain support from one another, and identify concrete strategies for promoting gender inclusion. We welcome all department members to join us and are passionate about advancing a professional environment where individuals of all genders can thrive in science!

1 Pipelines, Pathways, and Institutional Leadership: An Update on the Status of Women in Higher Education. American Council on Education. Accessed at http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/HES-Pipelines-Pathways-and-Institutional-Leadership-2017.pdf