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May 01, 2007

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WHOI Diversity Committee Meeting Minutes

Attending: Beth Andrews, David Gaylord,Kerry Heywood,Annette Hynes, Di Jin, Mary Lardie, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Peggy Rose, Amelie Scheltema, Tim Verslycke, Shona Vitelli, Joan Watring, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee), and Emily Beaton (HR).

Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone present, gave a brief summary of our last meeting and introduced Emily Beaton as a guest from Human Resources to the committee meeting.

David Gaylord reported on the new “WHOI Diversity Committee” web site that is now accessible to the WHOI community. Mary Lardie and David encouraged the committee members to create a more appealing introduction page for web site. Shona offered to draft up some more “friendly” text for the intro page and suggested making a separate tab for the language of the Charge. The committee discussed options for a logo and decided to extend the deadline for additional designs until the next committee meeting. In thinking about what diversity means and comparing our task with those of the other committees, we also discussed the difficulty in creating an appropriate logo.The design features need to balance clarity with inclusiveness and uniqueness of the logo. Amelie Scheltema highlighted subtle but important design features we need to keep in mind. Our emphasis for the website and beyond should remain on 'encompassing as much as we can in a non-specific way' as discussed. Depicting people of any shape or color was discouraged. Ultimately, the committee web site, with a few exceptions (minutes), will be made public. Events will be posted and updated as they are planned. It will also be linked to other internal websites, such as the website on “work and family life” (Emily Beaton).

Tim Verslycke mentioned he contacted the Movie Group and was waiting to hear back from them. He thought the idea of a Diversity Movie Night 3 or 4 times a year would be well received.

Sheri White reported on her participation at a workshop on “Diversity in Science and Engineering” at Columbia University on April 20. The importance of diversity at Columbia University is highlighted by two top-level positions (the Assistant Dean for Diversity at the School of Engineering and Applied Science [SEAS], and the Vice Provost for Diversity) dedicated to advancing diversity at all levels within the University. The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the recipient of an NSF Advance Award that facilitates such initiatives. Though small, the conference was very informative, educational and offered great networking opportunities. Sheri highlighted creative actions aimed at raising awareness (interactive performances on diversity, faculty mentoring, and tenure by the CRTL Players/University of Michigan, a group that also performed at MIT and at NSF; and seminars on diversity that are part of the regular science seminars). Sheri also highlighted that one of her contacts at Columbia has established formal contacts with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through a prior position. They include Xavier University of Louisiana, the top educational institution in the US in awarding science degrees to African Americans, and Bennett College in North Carolina, a women's college. Mentioned was whether we should try to contact the group at MIT that invited and hosted the CRTL Players and inquire about the performance effectiveness and whether they would be recommended.

Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink briefly summarized the results of the statistical analysis of the data on employee gender and ethnicity that were compiled by HR (Emily Beaton). The data reflect the voluntary self-identification of WHOI employees (including part-time and casual employees, but neither emeritus scientists nor employees of the WHOI education programs). Emily Beaton and Beth Andrews emphasized that “white” is the default category if employees decide not to fill in the voluntary form. Also, only certain ethnicity categories are available on the self-identification form and no “other” category currently exists. As such the data may not accurately reflect the ethnic diversity at WHOI. However, the data are collected according the state and federal requirements and are therefore comparable to data from other organizations. Emily Beaton pointed out that the regulatory framework for collecting such data is currently changing. For instance, an “other” category may be introduced soon.

Emily emphasized that we have a clear idea of what we want to do with the data. How will we use it and to what end? It will be important in the future for us to create a document that describes our future goals and how the viewing of this data makes concrete the need for change in the institution. Emily emphasized that Tina Betti be asked for permission before we ever pass the data on to other interested parties. The committee agreed that additional data should be compiled.Particularly data on the gender and ethnic diversity of the WHOI education program should be compared with the WHOI employee database. In addition, Emily Beaton will be looking into the availability of older data on gender and ethnic diversity that may shed light on the temporal trends. We feel that such data is critical for helping us in making suggestions for change. Such changes may include differences in advertising open positions, changes in retention efforts and career advancement opportunities (Amelie Scheltema), formal partnerships with ethnically diverse research and educational institutions as well as emphasizing the importance of a diverse workplace at all levels of the WHOI Governance structure. Emily Beaton encouraged the committee to invite Tina Betti, WHOI’s Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Officer to one of our upcoming meetings. Shona agreed that Tina Betti will be an important voice for change at the institution and agreed to invite her and keep her informed of the committees’ concerns. The need for an Institute-wide “Strategic Plan for Diversity” and a combined top-down, bottom-up approach for advancing diversity at WHOI was mentioned.

The Committee agreed to have the next meeting on May 29 at 1:00 pm in Redfield 204.



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