Sticking Together: The Value of Diversity and Inclusion in Physics

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Sticking Together: The Value of Diversity and Inclusion in Physics

Message from the Sigma Pi Sigma President


Willie Rockward, PhD

Morehouse College

Sigma Pi Sigma president Willie Rockward, PhD, Morehouse College. Photo courtesy of the American Institute of Physics.Diversity and inclusion are to the physics and astronomy communities as letters and numbers are to communication. Physics, as a discipline, inherently values unique approaches and solutions, and this translates to its members. As a truly global group of professionals that spans many interests and fields of study, we must learn to accept one another for who we are and strive to form a society in the truest sense of the word to meet today’s greatest challenges.

Like spherical cows, thinking that individuals working alone can change our understanding of the world overnight with a grand idea is an oversimplification. It takes all of us, working together, to solve problems. And, as these problems grow in size and scope, so must our teams and approaches. When we look back at major technological advances such as the laser, the Internet, and the cell phone, they required a diverse team of scientists and engineers of different backgrounds, thoughts, and resources. Quoting Dr. Donnell Walton of Corning Inc. (inducted into ΣΠΣ in 1986):

“In scientific research we are often confronted with situations for which solutions and analytical points are unknown. It takes a team as diverse as possible to envision all possible approaches, outcomes, and solutions.

It is through the interaction of different perspectives that true innovation emerges.”

Thus, a team of researchers utilizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their approach can have a higher probability of driving innovation.

This issue of The SPS Observer should challenge you to consider how you contribute to the diversity of our field and what you can do to better promote the inclusion of everyone. It’s up to each of us to lead the scientific community (and society in general) toward positively valuing diversity and inclusion in all of our pursuits. There is a place for everyone in the physical sciences.  The key to accomplishing this lofty, but necessary, goal is to engage with our peers, to make conscious efforts to promote the inclusion of all, and to support the mechanisms that bring us together. We elevate our discipline and the physical science community when we stick together. //

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