Biological Sciences Department Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Stock image. Campus life scene at the university entrance.

The Cal Poly Biological Sciences Department recognizes the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in promoting student success. Nationwide, persons excluded because of their ethnicity or race are far less likely to complete bachelor’s and PhD degrees in STEM than their peers. People who identify as LGBTQ+ STEM professionals are more likely to face a range of disadvantages in their careers and less likely to remain in STEM than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.

These and other disparities between historically marginalized groups and their peers are due to cultural and economic roadblocks, particularly in higher education. We have witnessed, with dismay, incidents of racism and bias on our own campus and beyond, not only for their fundamental injustice but because these incidents negatively impact students’ feelings of belonging and persistence in the field.

To say nothing is to be complicit in the system that leads to such disparate outcomes. We support our faculty, staff, and students from historically underrepresented and marginalized groups and want the Biological Sciences Department to be a safe space, where hatred has no place, and where we embrace the Cal Poly values of love, empathy, and respect, because we are committed to providing every student with a passion for biology the opportunity to achieve their goals.
 
It is especially important for members of our department to be actively anti-racist and actively inclusive, because there is a myriad of intersections between social justice issues and the biological sciences. The connections between biology and social justice afford opportunities for us to take action.

Here are some of the areas in which we plan to make headway

  1. Develop a no-tolerance policy for biases against marginalized groups in our learning spaces
  2. Recognize diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) efforts of our staff and faculty in performance reviews
  3. Invite more diverse seminar speakers
  4. Work within curricular groups to diversify and decolonize our syllabi
  5. Create an online space for DEI resources in our department 
  6. Support faculty and staff to attend conferences or similar professional development activities (e.g., webinars) related to DEI issues, as the budget allows
  7. Create learning communities for faculty, students, and staff
  8. Change the way we recruit and train graduate students 

 
This is a list of relevant resources which we plan to update periodically.

 

 

Primary Literature

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Asai, DJ (2020) Race matters. Cell, 181, 754-757.
 
Barber, PH, Hayes, TB, Johnson, TL, & Márquez-Magaña, L (2020) Systemic racism in higher education. Science, 369, 1440-1441.
 
Cech, E. A., & Waidzunas, T. J. (2021). Systemic inequalities for LGBTQ professionals in STEM. Science Advances, 7, eabe0933.
 
Chaudhary, VB & Berhe, AA (2020) Ten simple rules for building an antiracist lab. PLoS Computational Biology 16, e1008210.
 
DuBay, S, Palmer, DH, & Piland, N (2020) Global inequity in scientific names and who they honor. bioRxiv.
 
Evangelista, DA, Goodman, A, Kohli, MK, Bondocgawa Maflamills, SS, Samuel-Foo, M, Herrera, MS, Ware, JL & Wilson, M (2020) Why diversity matters among those who study diversity. American Entomologist, 66, 42-49.
 
Haines, CD, Rose, EM, Odom, KJ, & Omland, KE (2020) The role of diversity in science: a case study of women advancing female birdsong research. Animal Behaviour, 168, 19-24.
 
Hinton Jr, AO, Termini TM, Spencer EC, Rutaganira FUN, Chery D, Roby R, Vue Z, Pack A, Brady LJ, Garza-Lopez E, Marshall AG, Lewis SC, Shuler HD, Taylor BL, McReynolds MR, & Palavicino-Maggio CB (2020) Patching the leaks: revitalizing and reimagining the STEM pipeline. Cell 183, 568-575.
 
Hoffman, KM, Trawalter, S, Axt, JR, & Oliver, MN (2016) Racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 4296-4301
 
Kao, RM (2020) Beyond the lab bench: Pathways in inclusion, equity, and diversity in biology education and social justice. Developmental Biology, 459, 49-51.
 
Schell, CJ, Guy, C, Shelton, DS, Campbell-Staton, SC, Sealey, BA, Lee, DN, & Harris, NC (2020) Recreating Wakanda by promoting Black excellence in ecology and evolution. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2020, 1-3.
 
Vyas, DA, Eisenstein, LG, & Jones, DS (2020) Hidden in plain sight—reconsidering the use of race correction in clinical algorithms. New England Journal of Medicine 383, 874-882.
 
Zavaleta, ES, Beltran, RS, & Borker, AL (2020) How field courses propel inclusion and collective excellence. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 35, 953-956.

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