Resources to make an inclusive Physics and Astronomy community
SPS strives to foster a national physics community that is welcoming to and supportive of all who have an interest in physics. The resources on this page are intended to support the development of underrepresented communities in physics.
Building Support Systems
It’s important for all students, especially those in rigorous academic programs, to have support systems. The concerns of students from underrepresented groups can be different from those of their peers, and it can be helpful to have additional support systems where these topics can be discussed openly. Consider joining or organizing a supportive community where these conversations can happen freely, and where you can host efforts to combat them. Depending on the size and demographics of your Physics Department and University, this could be a cohort of your SPS chapter or a cross-section of students across STEM disciplines.
- Start a Mentorship Program: Pair incoming students with an older student to help them feel welcome and get acquainted with how the department works
- Host Open Mic Nights: Hold events where one (or a few) students get the opportunity to practice presenting their work to a friendly and supportive audience.
- Organize Regular, Low-Stakes Social Events: get together for lunch (or coffee) at the same time each month (or week) to keep the sense of community strong
- Organize Additional Social Events: Bad Physics Movie Nights, Trivia Nights
- Host an Alumni Networking Event: Invite alumni from your community back for lunch or a networking reception. Learn about life beyond college while expanding your network of colleagues.
TOPICS FOR CONSIDERATION
As much as we may try to treat everyone equally, who we are and what we look like impacts the experiences we have over the course of our development and education. Oftentimes, these differences are unintentional. Even small differences can result in large impacts as they are aggregated over the course of our lives. Included below are some topics that may be helpful in creating supportive communities and coming up with constructive solutions to help build an equitable physics community.
An implicit bias is when we unconsciously hold attitudes toward others or associate stereotypes with them. We all have implicit biases, and that’s okay. However, to build an inclusive and supportive community for all, in physics and in the broader world, it is critical is that we commit ourselves to understanding the implicit biases we have and actively working to challenge them both in our minds and in the broader community.
Defining Implicit Bias: (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity; The Ohio State University)
Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.
Creating a stronger STEM community by addressing our bias
Test Your Implicit Biases: Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition - thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.
Start a Conversation with your Chapter and Department
50 Ways to Fight Bias: 50 Ways to Fight Bias is a bias training activity that helps people recognize and combat gender bias at work. Participants will discuss examples of bias, share personal experiences, and learn research-backed solutions. It works best for groups of 6–8 people.
“The Confidence Gap”
Studies suggest that despite being just as capable as their male peers, the socialization and experiences of young women tend to result in lower confidence in their abilities, which can impact their performance in school and in the workplace.
Be a mentor
The Science of Effective Mentoring in STEM - Books and online guide by National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine
- The Confidence Gap (The Atlantic)
- The Elephant in the (Physics Class)Room: Discussing Gender Inequality in Our Class (AAPT)
- Videos on Building Confidence
- Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence
- How to Be More Self-Confident in Just 3 Minutes a Day
Information on the State of the Community
- TEAM-UP: The AIP National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP) has spent the last two years investigating the reasons for the persistent underrepresentation of African Americans in physics and has released a report with its findings.
- Women in the Workplace: Women in the Workplace is the largest comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. In 2015, McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org launched the study to help companies advance diversity in the workplace.
- Q&A series: Black voices in physics - Physics Today articles
Teaching and Learning
- Why does pedagogy matter to inclusiveness? “Influences of teaching style and perceived care of instructor on retention of underrepresented groups in STEM”
- Learn more about asset-based pedagogies
- Teaching Physics towards Social Justice with the The Underrepresentation Curriculum Project
- Considering mid-semester reviews
Cool Opportunities to Consider
- Diverse Voices in Science Journalism Internship (AAAS)
- National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL)
- National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) Conferences
- SACNAS National Diversity in Physics Conference
- Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP): APS CUWiPs are three-day regional conferences for undergraduate physics majors.
- TED Playlist on Fighting Impostor Syndrome
- Negotiation Advice for Women
- Developing Leadership Skills for Women
- Videos on Building Confidence