Discussion Board

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Inclusion & Diversity

How can we make ecological forecasting a more inclusive and diverse community? How do we better reach out to and engage with underrepresented groups?

Although I think this problem is deeply rooted within a larger framework of systemic racism and sexism globally, and we're not going to solve it within a single discipline or conference, I see many small things that we can do every day to help inclusivity in ecological forecasting.

Ideas for inclusivity in ecology: prioritize funding for field assistants, lab technicians, and research assistants to minimize the need for individuals to volunteer; consider safety for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community when assembling field teams/planning field trips and communicate issues openly with applicants; emphasize the breadth of ways that ecology can address immediate, close-to-home issues that may be of pivotal importance to humanity, especially minority groups, such as food security, health, superfund sites

Ideas for inclusivity in forecasting: promote programs that teach coding to students at a young age; work with organizations such as public libraries, Girl Scouts of America, or YMCA/YWCA to provide access to coding games and computers at summer camps or after school programs

Ideas for inclusivity in STEM more generally: provide funded research opportunities for students (e.g. REUs) in urban areas with high minority representation so that students can continue meeting home responsibilities (e.g. parent, child, sibling care) while working on a paid research project; advertise funded research opportunities at community colleges and HBCUs; use gender neutral language in job postings; provide incentives for conducting more risky research endeavors with high chances of failing (e.g. forecasting), and minimize the consequences of "failed" projects that may not result in high-impact publications, especially for researchers with temporary funding (e.g. graduate students, post docs) and pre-tenure faculty; advertise, participate in, and support conferences that emphasize minority inclusivity (e.g. https://www.beyondthebinary2019.com/); also, why is there not a journal for negative results?

Ultimately, we need to remember that the marginalized individuals cannot be held responsible for fixing this problem, as we are rarely the ones in a position of power to make change. The largest steps should be taken by majority groups and individuals representing the majority. And although it can be rewarding to fight for a cause that you believe in, it is emotionally draining and takes away a significant amount of time and energy that could be put towards research productivity. Minority individuals should not have to martyr their own research careers for the cause.

A few resources that I've found to be particularly eye-opening: