10 ways to promote antiracism in research environments

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

October 1, 2020 -- A pair of laboratory scientists has proposed 10 ways principal investigators and group leaders can cultivate antiracist research environments.

Bala Chaudhary, PhD, of DePaul University in Chicago and colleague Asmeret Berhe, PhD, of the University of California, Merced, published their suggestions on October 1 in PLOS Computational Biology.

"The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce exhibits disproportionately low racial and ethnic diversity due to a variety of factors that include bias, discrimination, and power imbalances within academia," the two investigators said in a statement released by the Public Library of Science (PLOS). "Lab leaders may be able to make considerable progress toward increased diversity by building [antiracist] labs, but many lack clarity on how to do so."

Chaudhary and Berhe listed the following 10 steps:

  1. Lead informed discussions about antiracism in the lab regularly.
  2. Address racism in the lab and field safety guidelines.
  3. Publish papers and write grants with BIPOC (black, Indigenous, and people of color) colleagues.
  4. Evaluate the lab's mentoring practices.
  5. Amplify voices of BIPOC scientists in the field.
  6. Support BIPOC in their efforts to organize.
  7. Intentionally recruit BIPOC students and staff.
  8. Adopt a dynamic research agenda.
  9. Advocate for racially diverse leadership in science.
  10. Hold the powerful accountable and don't expect gratitude.

"We wrote this paper to help scientists who are new to [antiracism] work identify tangible actions and connect with resources to encourage the development of a more [antiracist] STEM environment that will benefit all scientists," Chaudhary said.

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