Guide to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Version 1. January 09, 2021

Recommendations for supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion are distributed throughout all sections of the EP3 guide. This section addresses equity, diversity, and inclusion in a systematic and comprehensive way and as ends in themselves, rather than as means of achieving other departmental goals. Diversity encompasses recruiting people from

into your department and retaining them, so that all levels of physics are representative of the range of people who could be physicists. Inclusion involves creating an environment that supports everyone in feeling welcome in your department. Equity encompasses ensuring that everyone has what they need to thrive in your department, which requires taking into account the ways that some groups of people have been and continue to be marginalized in society and in physics. In an unjust society, achieving equity (everyone gets what they need) requires more than a focus on equality (everyone gets the same). Achieving equity requires recognizing and challenging the structural and cultural barriers to full participation in physics and in your department that people from marginalized groups face. This section foregrounds equity as the most important goal, over diversity and inclusion, which are necessary but insufficient for equity. A focus on diversity can help recruit people from marginalized groups into your department but does not ensure that they feel welcome, while a focus on inclusion can help integrate people from marginalized groups into your existing departmental culture but does not ensure that they have equal power and ownership of that culture. This section focuses on practices that make your department more equitable for members of marginalized groups in physics. For guidance on improving the culture and climate for all members of your department, see the section on Departmental Culture and Climate. While the overall focus of EP3 is on undergraduate programs, issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in one part of your program impact all parts of your program. The recommendations in this section are correspondingly broad and apply to faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdocs.

This section provides guidance on improving equity, diversity, and inclusion through a cyclic process in which you (1) educate yourself and your department members (faculty, students, staff, and postdocs) about equity, diversity, and inclusion, (2) analyze the current state of affairs for marginalized groups in your department, (3) create, publicize, implement, and assess an action plan for equity, diversity, and inclusion, (4) pay separate attention to the particular needs and concerns of different groups and different individuals, and (5) use known strategies to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion. Parts 1–3 describe how to lay the groundwork to ensure that your efforts are effective, and parts 4 and 5 describe specific strategies for supporting members of

. Part 4 includes strategies specific to particular groups, such as people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, first-generation and low-income college students, and students facing trauma. Part 5 offers general strategies that can support members of all . This section provides definitions of many equity-related terms, which you can see by hovering over underlined terms.

Benefits

Engaging in effective practices to support equity, diversity, and inclusion will enable members of

to fully participate and thrive in physics, which is good for people from marginalized groups, for the field of physics, and for your department or program. It will also set positive expectations for the discipline and communicate positive messages to students about who can be a physicist and what kinds of ideas are included in physics. Physics is one of the least diverse STEM disciplines, and it has been well documented that members of marginalized groups regularly face , , and harassment within the physics community, leading to lower rates of admission, hiring, satisfaction, and retention in physics at all levels. The main argument for working toward equity, diversity, and inclusion is a moral one: Ensuring that people from marginalized groups can thrive in physics and in your department is the right thing to do and is a benefit for its own sake. There are also utilitarian arguments for how equity, diversity, and inclusion benefit your department, your institution, and physics as a whole: As the nation’s population becomes more and more diverse, physics departments must become equitable and inclusive places for traditionally underrepresented students in order to respond to institutional calls for greater diversity and recruit enough majors to stay viable. On a broader level, a more diverse group of physicists will make the field more vibrant and better able to identify, take on, and solve the ever more diverse and complex set of problems facing the world. However, while utilitarian arguments may be more comfortable for members of privileged groups, such arguments can be harmful to members of marginalized groups. Research demonstrates, for example, that students are more comfortable and more successful in institutions that prioritize moral over utilitarian arguments for working towards equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Effective Practices

  1. Educate yourself and your department members (faculty, students, staff, and postdocs) about equity, diversity, and inclusion

  2. Analyze the current state of affairs for marginalized groups in your department

  3. Create, publicize, implement, and assess an action plan for equity, diversity, and inclusion

  4. Pay separate attention to the particular needs and concerns of different groups and individuals

  5. Use known strategies to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion

Programmatic Assessments

The Cycle of Reflection and Action

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1738311, 1747563, and 1821372. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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