Attending: Beth Andrews, David Gaylord, Annette Hynes, Mary Lardie, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Peggy Rose, Amelie Scheltema, Tim Verslycke, Shona Vitelli, Sheri White (all WHOI Diversity Committee), as well as Jian Lin (Diversity Advisory Committee).
Co-chair Shona Vitelli welcomed everyone present and gave a brief summary of our last meeting. Most of today’s meeting was spent on a range of topics that we felt we needed to discuss before we could focus on future directions of our committee.
We discussed the situation of the Ombuds-Person at WHOI after Karen Rauss retired. The services offered by Karen Rauss are now available through a “hotline” (firstname.lastname@example.org) that ensures Karen’s continued involvement in confidential advice for WHOI employees and her continued interaction with the WHOI Administration. The committee decided to invite her to an upcoming meeting and Peggy Rose offered to invite her personally. We also suggest posting the hotline address prominently on WHOI Black Boards to make its existence known to the WHOI community. We would like to discuss with Karen any change that she has noticed in the amount of service the Ombuds person is fielding since she retired and the Ombuds became a hotline and what is being done regarding the difficulty of finding the current Hotline information on the WHOI website.
Shona and Jian reported on a meeting with the Facilities group. This meeting was initiated by the Facilities group through Joan Watring and organized by means of a small pre-meeting with Joan. Shona, Jian and Julia Westwater attended the meeting with Facilities. Ernie Charette, Facilities Manager, mentioned the various actions he and his group have taken to attract a more diverse applicant pool for open positions in his group. The group felt that small, voluntary “sensitivity workshops” may be a good vehicle to increase awareness of diversity issues and emphasized that time is the hardest component to overcome when organizing a voluntary workshop such as this. The “Chilly Climate Workshops” that were offered a few years ago may serve as a good example for the focus of such “sensitivity workshops”. It was suggested that we ask GEPAC about the effectiveness and reception of these workshops. Amelie highlighted the importance of making people feel welcome, a sentiment shared by Jian. A point was also made that a welcoming environment (no open discrimination, equal opportunity, professional respect) and a comfortable environment (complete inclusiveness i.e. being invited to social gatherings, or a strong sense of place/community) can be two very different things.
Annette brought to our attention the imbalance between male and female Joint Program students and Summer Student Fellows, particularly in Biology (male/female <1). Given the small numbers involved in these statistical figures the significance of this imbalance requires further scrutiny. Increasing diversity among the SSF is partly a financial issue as this program is limited by the available housing for Summer Student/Minority Fellows.
The group also shared thoughts on the discussion with Larry Madin on the Memorandum of Understanding with KAUST. Amy Bower, Sheri and Amelie mentioned relevant articles on Women in Saudi Arabia, Science in the Islamic World (Physics Today) and an article in the recent (8/15) issue of the Christian Science Monitor, respectively. The lack of explicit mentioning of all relevant diversity characteristics in the Memorandum (e.g., on sexual orientation) was brought up. Sheri also made mention of communicating our concern to Larry that certain categories are missing and ask if it were possible to include them in future or amended MOUs with KAUST. Although we were told that the omission of women in the first delegation to KAUST was coincidental and not deliberate, the committee felt strongly that the inclusion of women in the next official WHOI Delegation to KAUST should be intentional and deliberate. While we realize the importance of making WHOI colleagues feel welcome at KAUST, we also feel strongly that we should do everything possible to make KAUST Delegations feel welcome at WHOI. The committee is generally supportive of this new initiative and we anticipate inviting Larry Madin for periodic updates.
The web site is live and will be announced to the WHOI community in an upcoming “headline” note.
The next Diversity Movie will be on August 29 in collaboration with the Wednesday Movie Night. The movie is, “But I’m a Cheerleader”- A Comedy of Sexual Disorientation.
Shona commented briefly on the relatively low attendance at Diversity Day and the need for new ideas for this event. We will talk further about this in future meetings.
Amelie invited everyone to the Martin Luther King Day breakfast by the “No Place for Hate” committee at the Falmouth High School on Monday, September 3.
A key issue we need to discuss in future meetings is the future agenda of our committee. We realize that we are in a transition period from one administration to the other, and that discussions of future goals need to be informed by the agenda of the new leadership on this issue. However, we also think that we should have an agenda of our own to present to the new administration and ask for their support. Shona asked members of the committee to send her their visions and short term and long term goals for the committee. In order to take our “show on the road” it is important that each member of the committee is educated, informed and can speak to the ideas that are put forth by the committee as a whole. By sharing our individual ideas it will help to facilitate conversation amongst ourselves and aid us in the discussion of diversity as we continue to meet with other groups within the Institution.
The Committee agreed to hold the next meeting on Tuesday, September 25 at 1:30 pm in Carriage House.