GSA’s commitment to dismantling racism in science: building a plan for sustained action
The Genetics Society of America outlines its goals for anti-racism actions.
The Genetics Society of America, supported by the Board of Directors and the Equity and Inclusion Committee, is committed to building an equitable future for the Society, journals, conferences, early career scientist programs, and the larger scientific community.
What do we mean by commitment? Dismantling racism in science—and particularly anti-Black racism born of White supremacy—will be the work of years but is as essential as the work we do in scholarly publishing, conference planning, advocacy, and career development. The work will be required of each of us; as our President Denise Montell wrote, “Racism is everyone’s problem.”
We are in a moment of action and must seize it. We recognize that we have failed our community in a number of ways, particularly by not acting sooner. But as we take advantage of the current momentum, we can only make meaningful progress if we are thoughtful and purposeful in building plans to address racism in science. We must ensure that our action is not confined to this point in time—and is not performative—but is instead built to last through the coming years.
With sustained transformation in mind, the Board and Committee are working together to distill a prioritized plan from the many ideas and suggestions that have poured in over the last weeks. Our strategy must address the short-, medium-, and long-terms. It must also encompass personal, organizational, and community levels—we need to encourage action within ourselves, within GSA, and within the genetics and genomics research enterprise. We will need not only external-facing programs but also internal governance and operational initiatives to ensure efforts that are adequately resourced and supported.
Our framework for making progress must:
- Foster a community where Black scientists and scientists from other marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds are visible, respected, valued, heard, supported, empowered, and rewarded for their work
- Engage our leadership, membership, and partner organizations in our efforts with the goal of lasting, systemic change
- Embrace and encourage diversity in our ranks while avoiding tokenism and patronization
- Address microaggressions at our conferences, journals, and other community platforms
- Use our platforms (conferences, communications, and more) to expose unspoken prejudices woven throughout the research enterprise
- Confront and reckon with the history of White supremacy in our field and the ways eugenics and genetics research have contributed to racism
- Respect and learn from the expertise of academics and practitioners who have dedicated their lives and careers to addressing these problems
- Commit dedicated funds to our efforts
- Include benchmarks for communication, transparency, and accountability
In the short term, this means engaging experts in our planning, dedicating funds to support participation at our conferences by Black scientists and others from underrepresented backgrounds, increasing diversity in our Committees and the nomination pool for Board positions ahead of our 2020 elections, and prioritizing, budgeting, and creating timelines for new programs and initiatives. It means harnessing the energy and ideas of this moment and using them to imagine and implement plans that will outlast the news cycle.
From this starting point, we are working on details of specific actions to undertake in confronting racism in science, including further development of impactful steps we can take. We will report back to the community in three months with an interim progress report, detailing actions taken and actions planned, and again in six months with our 2021 action plan. We welcome your participation and your ideas. To join these efforts or make a suggestion, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Committee, on behalf of the Board of Directors
Denise Montell President
Hugo Bellen Vice-President
Terry Magnuson Immediate Past President
Erika Matunis Secretary
Mike Buszczak Treasurer
Swathi Arur At-Large Director
Executive Director, on behalf of the Society
Equity and Inclusion Committee
Noah Whiteman Chair
Sarah Bay Staff Liaison
Note for GSA members:
We have reopened the nomination site for the 2020 Board of Directors election. We strongly encourage nominations and self-nominations of members of the community who have a demonstrated commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in science. Nominations require only a nominee name, institution, and a brief (optional) explanation for your nomination. You may nominate non-GSA members, but they will have to join GSA if they are chosen to run on the slate for a Board position.
GSA members will be sent their nomination site link on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, and nominations are due by June 30. If you have any questions about nominating, please email email@example.com.
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