Movement towards equitable, diverse, and inclusive environments requires reflection and action at the level of institutions, departments, and research groups. This statement reflects that process for the Lewis Research Group and our collective plan and expectations for reflection, self-education, action, and accountability.
We understand members of marginalized groups are subject to discrimination of all kinds, from microaggressions to outright bigotry. As a lab we prioritize a fair and equitable working environment that welcomes all kinds of diversity while ensuring that all feel comfortable. We want to make sure that both lab members and colleagues feel safe and comfortable disclosing any concerns or discomfort they may have, so we can improve and learn in this regard.
There are barriers to academic success for women, Indigenous and racialized peoples, people with disabilities, and sexual and gender minorities. Barriers can include inequitable admission and evaluation processes (e.g., biased indicators of excellence, assumed linearity of scientific career paths), non-inclusive environment (e.g., unconscious bias, gendered language, microaggressions) and non-diverse research and learning environments (e.g., few role models).
Our research is at the intersection of mathematics and ecology. Both of these fields suffer from a lack of diversity. Of particular note is the lack of gender diversity in mathematics and the lack of racial diversity in ecology. These and other discrepancies become more pronounced as one moves along the academic career track from the undergraduate level through to full professor. This suggests structural discrimination, sexism, and racism within academia, and there is evidence demonstrating these.
We are committed to creating a safe and supportive learning and working environment for all members of our lab and in the broader academic community. To achieve this, we are committed to continually learning (and unlearning) by:
- Examining and confronting our own implicit biases and belief systems through self-education.
- Amplifying the voices of and speaking up for marginalized groups at all levels of the university: within our lab, with other faculty members and students, in our home departments and faculty, and with other members of the campus community. This includes, acknowledging and giving appropriate credit to contributions, confronting microaggressions and bigotry, advocating for greater representation of diversity in the campus community, and appropriate consultation with Indigenous groups when conducting research on their territories.
- Hosting regular lab meeting and lab retreat activities focused on reading about and discussing an equity diversity and inclusion issue or topic related to the lab.
- Engaging in cultural/implicit bias training
- Holding each other accountable for our actions and behaviours. This includes a commitment to continuously look for and manage our individual inherent biases and openly listen and learn about our mistakes and ignorance. If we act offensively and are notified, we are committed to accepting responsibility and apologizing for our actions, receiving feedback with an open mind, and improving our language and actions in the future.
The Lewis Research Group is an interdisciplinary group of math biologists structured around the premise that science as a process and a product benefits from multiple perspectives, approaches, and backgrounds. Fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive lab environment will only improve our science as a lab, with ample opportunities for lab members to learn from one another. Rather than viewing diversity as a hindrance, we embrace it in our lab and in science more generally.