EDI — Flipping the tables

Many areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) are hyper masculine and reward people for bad behaviour. Many of the environments we work in are, at present, hostile and unforgiving of difference.

Asking advocates to evidence strife means that many actions are a drop of water in ocean, when we really must be thinking how we can change the water. (photo from unsplash)

I can share that there are islands of hope and people are making strides to fix things. Yet, we have a long way to go and we are being far too slow to fix things.

I’m purposely not going to quote reports that show the blatant misogyny, sexism, racism, homo- bi- and trans-phobia, ableism, and more. Local and global surveys point the same narrative, every time we see them. There are times where new data can be helpful, as we can get glimmers of change over time, but even then the nuance of these challenges and the evolution of our understanding of the tapestry of human identity mean that really tracking changes over time is difficult. Even these view points often render the challenge with an indifference towards intersectional identities.

You might think I am lazy, but I am going to suggest that you are lazy for not looking around the room, for not listening, for not just one report after report that highlights these facts.

At this point, I’m tired of just dredging up yet more data to point out the fucking obvious. We have so much data already, some of this is quantitative, some of this is qualitative, and some of this is just ‘things we know’ which are happening but we aren’t brave/knowledgeable/comfortable enough in engaging with.

This means in general, I’d advocate for collecting an understanding of what we know already, rather than setting up yet another survey.

So at this point, if you believe me, what can we do?

I’m going to make a radical suggestion. Instead of EDI (equity/equality diversity and inclusion) committees and advocates having to collect yet more data to justify the allocation of resource towards addressing imbalances of the status quo, lets flip the narrative to: “The status quo is shit, this is what I am doing to address things.”

Lets make everyone flip this narrative normalise the practice.

What does this mean in practice? Every committee, position of authority, and structural element should be proactively considering their every move and decision with an equity lens. Justify to me — how are decisions, processes, spaces, and person-to-person interactions favouring people to come to the table and feel a sense of belonging.

Ultimately, I am asking everyone to consider how they are active in dismantling the barriers that sustain inequality, and limit fair participation.

If you are going to ask me to collect some more data, or only believe me when I put a graph in front of you — please just remember that measuring strife is not an action in and of itself to create meaningful change.

Measurement is of strife, at best, is just be a tool that may be used to promote and enable change.

Atomic sorcerer, based at UBC (Canada). Plays with metals. Discusses academic life. Swooshes down ski slopes. Pegs it round parks. (Views my own)