This program is pretty diverse. Better yet, I think it’s as diverse as it can be because there are no black students.
I am not sure. There could be many different reasons, but it’s not my place to argue one over another. However, noticing this detail, and as a person of color myself, I have been thinking about this a lot.
The point of this blog post is to talk about the lack of diversity in our speakers, and how it’s kind of discouraging. Now, I want to note that this is not a criticism on the program leaders and who they choose as speakers. It might be that there aren’t that many people who look like me, or like other underrepresented minorities, in this field. Nonetheless, there is a lack of diversity, and it’s a conversation we need to have.
While it is hard to note how many people we have interacted with, I can confidently say it has been more than 20 people. Every Tuesday we have a speaker, but we have also had the opportunity to talk to others working on science policy by going to other events and tours.
Out of at least 20 people we spoke to, I can only thing of 4 people of color. Now, I can totally be missing people, and if someone who is reading this thinks this is a major mistake, please let me know.
However, my post is not to focus on the actual numbers or statistics but more on how disappointing this has been. There is often mention on how great this is because we are talking to people in the fields we are considering. And how we get the chance to get an insight from people who were in our shoes at some point. But how true is this?
I have not talked to or heard someone who looks like me who is an “expert” in their field. I have not seen a speaker that I could relate to. It is often clear to me, or at least it feels like, I cannot relate to many of the speakers. While I do love the opportunity to meet people in their fields and meet people who have a similar educational path like mine, it doesn’t really mean that much to me when I can’t relate to someone personally.
I am not too sure how this problem could be fixed. Maybe people like me do not go into this field, or maybe those are not the people they reached out to. However, I think it’s an important conversation to have if the goal is to increase diversity in this program and making sure everyone truly appreciates this experience. Learning and enjoying an experience is more than listening to experts, more than getting career advice. It is about seeing someone and being able to imagine yourself in their shoes a few years from now. It is hard to do so when the speakers don’t look like you.