Diversity + Inclusion = Excellence in STEM

By Sonia Zárate, PhD, SACNAS President

This is the final call for submissions in Dr. Sonia Zárate‘s STEM + Culture Chronicle Presidential Series. You can read the first two prompts and respective stories on Belonging and Intersectionality. Read on to find out how YOU can join the conversation.

I am often asked for recommendations regarding increasing diversity in STEM. My response is always to focus on the environment — whether the space you’re holding is inclusive and makes people feel that they belong. As an example of what a STEM environment could and should be, I point to the SACNAS Annual Conference as a 47-year-old model for inclusion.

When the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander STEM community invited us to Honolulu for our annual conference last year, I knew it was going to be a special gathering. Our organizing committee wove culture and STEM throughout the entire conference, starting with the traditional Hawaiian kīpaepae (a welcome ceremony). Kīpaepae is the physical welcoming of a group to a particular space, intended to nurture the spiritual transition into new understandings. As a Chicanx, I am not personally connected to the Native Hawaiian community, and yet, I felt that I belonged. Inclusion is achieved through daily practices that result in people feeling like they belong.

Each event SACNAS hosts is centered around creating a space where science, culture and community are not only celebrated, but recognized as foundational to excellence in STEM.

The Hawaiian kīpaepae (a welcome ceremony) at 2019 SACNAS

Unfortunately, in many ways, the culture of science is exclusionary. It claims to be a place of objectivity, yet again we have to ask, “Whose objectivity is being upheld?” It claims to be a place of academic rigor and observation, again we have to ask, “Who is defining rigor and whose lens is being prioritized?” These norms perpetuate a status quo that signals that science is only for the few.

SACNAS was founded on the premise that science can only be excellent when it includes diverse perspectives. Our elders and founders recognized the potential diversity held for the nation’s scientific enterprise and created an organization that unapologetically places culture and community at the center of science as a way to promote inclusion. In the past 47 years, SACNAS has worked to normalize the practice of scientists bringing their complexity and humanity to STEM through inclusive environments that foster a sense of belonging. Science is not diluted when it is inclusive of culture and community, in fact, it is all the more potent.

In June 2020, we shared five stories about Intersectionality. Now, we invite you to share your experiences with inclusion on your academic and/or professional trajectory in STEM. What is your complex humanity? Where have you felt that you belonged? How have you seen STEM be more potent because culture was inextricably linked to the process? Details on submitting your pitch can be found below. Thank you for being a part of this community, and I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Share Your Inclusive Experiences

Share your stories, perspectives, and solutions! Articles should be written in an accessible, narrative based format. More details about our intention for STEM + Culture Chronicle here. Pitches/abstracts should give us a clear idea of the featured topic (Inclusion) you want to focus on and your proposed approach.

We are accepting pitches for:

  • Profiles/Interviews/Q&As 500–1,000 words
  • Personal stories and insights — 800–1,000 words
  • Feature length articles — 1,500–2,000 words

(For feature article pitches, include data, sources, and relevant research that you will utilize.)

Pitches should be 150–200 words max. Submit pitches here!

Inclusion Timeline

Pitch/abstract submission: September 16, 2020

Accepted articles due: October 30, 2020

Publication: December 2020

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SACNAS

SACNAS

Dedicated to advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in science. Science, culture, and community in the movement for true diversity in STEM.