Category: Recommended Reading

The Importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Diversity Council at Michigan Tech shared the article below in today’s edition of Tech Today.

During this global pandemic, we must continue to value diversity, equity and an inclusive community. We’ve all seen the disparate effects of the disease itself and the stay-at-home policy response in our lives and our communities. The disease has disproportionately taken the lives of people of color, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions. The work-from-home period eliminated child and elder care, placing additional care burdens on faculty and staff with care responsibilities, reducing their professional productivity. The disease has emboldened discriminatory actions targeting immigrants and foreign workers, as well as their descendants. Many students have struggled to finish their schoolwork without the on-campus support systems on which they depend. Many in our Michigan Tech community, and their families, have faced economic hardship from job losses. This disease has caused a devastating effect on our economy on every level: our students, employees, the community and the world as a whole.

Now is not the time to push diversity, equity and inclusion work aside. Doing so will place us even further behind in our community-building efforts when the pandemic comes to an end (however and whenever that happens). Now is the time to exercise our compassion, realizing that we don’t always see the burdens that our colleagues, students and friends carry with them. It is also our time to place the safety and well-being of others at the forefront of our minds as we go forward.


Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover. But What About Viruses?

We’ve all heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Dr. Caryn Heldt, Director of the Health Research Institute here at Michigan Tech, is reversing that old adage to fight viruses.

Making quick judgments based on superficial features can introduce biased perceptions of others. But when it comes to viruses, Dr. Heldt’s research suggests that virus surface chemistry analyzed from small samples of a virus can be key to making quick characterizations and predictions.

ADVANCE applauds Dr. Heldt’s research (part of her NSF CAREER Award) featured recently on the Michigan Tech News blog as well as the collaborative efforts of her research team, recently published in Langmuir and highlighted in the BioTechniques Daily Newsletter.


2019: A Year in Review

2019 has been an eventful year for The ADVANCE team. Over the course of the past year, we have launched our Advanced Career Management and Advocates and Allies adaptations, added 3 new team members, and established a resource center on campus. The ADVANCE Resource Center can now be found on the first floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library in room 102B, just to the right of the IT Technical Assistance Center. The Resource Center is open Monday-Thursday from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM and staffed by our Program Coordinator, Brad Wells. Brad is available to assist with any of your ADVANCE related questions, locate resources or to check out books from our growing library of diversity, career development, leadership, and gender equity literature. Please feel free to drop by or send us an email at advance-mtu@mtu.edu to learn more.

In August, we added two PhD students, Karen Colbert (Computational Sciences and Engineering) and Betsy Lehman (Cognitive and Learning Sciences) to our team. Both students have been quick to dive into the literature and learn about our work on campus and will be developing projects related to our adaptations in the coming months.

Our Advanced Career Management (ACM) adaptation was the first program to launch. ACM is an adaption of the University of Michigan’s LIFT model and the successful Early Career Management program here at Michigan Tech.The ACM is aimed at developing a strong peer to peer mentoring network and providing resources for mid-career faculty success.

During the summer, the ACM team hosted several focus groups with both mid-career and senior faculty to guide programming efforts. Advanced Career Management officially launched on September 17 with a workshop featuring a panel discussion on career development strategies. This panel was led by Dr. Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering and Dr. Andrew Storer, Dean of the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. A series of three panel discussions followed in September and October: one on Research, Teaching, and Service Balance, one of Research Intensive Careers, and the third on Leadership. Each workshop featured 2-3 distinguished panelists from the campus community. We appreciate the insightful contributions of these panelists: Dr. Shari Stockero, Dr. Nancy Auer, and Dr. John Jaszczak (Research, Teaching, and Service Balance); Dr. Adrienne Minerick and Dr. Zhanping You (Research Intensive); and Dr. Pushpa Murthy, Dr. Audra Morse, and Dr. Lina Ott (Leadership). During the Fall 2019 semester our workshops engaged 40+ participants from across all faculty ranks.

In late 2019, we will be launching the second phase of our ACM program. This portion of the ACM will involve the development of career career affinity groups and the launch of a Canvas course to serve as a resource base for participants. The next ACM event is our Spring Social which will feature career development related table topics and will introduce our “senior guides” and mid-career faculty career affinity groups.  The Spring Social is scheduled for January 23 from 4-6PM in MUB Ballroom B2. In February 2020, we will formally launch the career affinity groups aimed at providing a peer to peer network for discussing career development.

One of the main tenets of the NSF ADVANCE Initiative is to promote gender equity in STEM but the The ADVANCE team team aims to include the entire campus. To do this, we are working to implement the Advocates and Allies program. Advocates and Allies was started by North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) ADVANCE program and works to train men to be knowledgeable and effective allies for gender equity. Our adaptation of the NDSU program expands the aims of this program. For our Advocates and Allies program, we’re aiming to train members of majority groups to be effective allies for those who are not as well represented. The Advocates and Allies program started on campus in October 2019 with two days of Ally workshops facilitated by a training team from NDSU and Auburn University. These workshops were attended by 130 faculty, staff, and academic leadership from across campus and provided a space for men to come together to learn and talk about equity issues facing Michigan Tech. These workshops looked directly at the data from the Assessment of Working, Living, and Learning conducted in 2017 and highlighted issues such as trends in faculty recruitment and retention, the low number of women serving as department chair (5 of 22), and perceptions of campus climate. Simultaneously, women and gender diverse individuals gathered to discuss the equity issues they face on campus.

The Advocates and Allies program is actively seeking women, minorities, and gender diverse individuals to form the Advocates and Allies Advisory Board (AAAB) as well as men to form the initial Advocates team. Both groups will be working closely with the The ADVANCE team team to disseminate knowledge and promote ally-ship across campus. The AAAB will be responsible for selecting, training, and advising the Advocates and applications are due Jan. 9. Applications for the Advocates team are due Jan. 20, 2020. Anyone interested in applying to either should complete our Google Form. Advocates and Allies will host another Ally workshop with the training team from NDSU in April 2020. Dates and times for these events will be forthcoming in early 2020.

Another tenet of the ADVANCE mission is to increase faculty retention. The ADVANCE team is approaching this from two angles: working with faculty (ACM) and with academic leadership.  There’s a saying that employees quit their supervisor before they quit their employer. Making sure that this doesn’t happen at Michigan Tech is key to faculty retention and where our third adaptation comes in.  The Academy for Responsive Leadership (ARL) is based on a training model for deans and chairs from Iowa State University and is in the final planning stages. ARL will engage deans, department chairs, and center/institute directors from across campus in conversations about qualities and practices of responsive leadership. We anticipate a soft-launch of the program in early 2020 with a pilot group before rolling it out to all academic leaders in mid-spring. ARL will host regularly scheduled workshops along with a resource base available through Canvas. As part of this program, academic leaders will be involved in peer to peer discussions and activities related to annual performance evaluations, difficult conversations, the promotion and tenure process, faculty retention, and emotional intelligence among other topics.

As we move into 2020, the ADVANCE team is excited about the future. Our initial programming in Fall 2019 has elicited a strong interest from the campus community and we look to build on that momentum moving forward. The final two years of our grant will be crucial to institutionalizing our programs and engaging the campus community in effective culture change. Participation from faculty, staff, and leadership is critical to effective change so we hop to involve everyone in upcoming events.

Information about ADVANCE at Michigan Tech as well as all of our events can be found on our website (www.mtu.edu/advance) or by visiting the ADVANCE Resource Center in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 102B.

 


What Does a Scientist Look Like?

Close your eyes and visualize a scientist. What do you see? Do you picture a male? A female? Is your scientist in a lab coat and surrounded by chemicals and fancy equipment? Perhaps your scientist is in waders or measuring a tree. Our perspective on who or what makes a scientist may vary based on our experiences, our background, or perhaps our culture. What is important however, is that we realize that science, in order to be at it’s best, must be inclusive. We must have scientists from a variety of backgrounds because our individual life experiences  shape our perspective and unique perspectives are what lead to breakthroughs.

Just this morning, the ADVANCE team found an article in Science magazine referencing an article about how children perceive scientists. In the article, a group of scholars analyzed 5 decades of “draw-a-scientist” studies conducted on school aged children. They found that students depict scientists as female 34% of the time as of 2016, up from 1% in the 1960s and 1970s. A breakdown by gender found that female students are now depicting female scientists nearly 50% of the time, again, up from 1% in the 1960s and 1970s. These numbers are encouraging but still highlight the need for increased education on what makes a scientist so that our children realize anyone can be a scientist.

Want to learn more?

Visit this link for the article from Science.

 

For a more in-depth look, the study from Child Development can be found here.