Notes from a Research Group Discussion Forum on equality, diversity and inclusion, 15 March 2021.
This session focused on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work being undertaken by Research Groups, including discussion of shared challenges, opportunities for collaboration, and sharing of good practice across Research Groups. We made use of focused breakout discussion on the following two questions:
What is your Research Group doing on EDI?
What would your group like to be doing?
Below are summary notes compiled from the discussion, focusing on key shared points and initiatives.
Critical moment as a research group. Period of some reflection and writing on the nature of the field (papers in E&P-A); new Chair and much more diverse community; EDI initiatives gained lots of momentum. Rebranding with view to being more open to join; widened committee; two special EDI roles. Then held a series of meetings which built an intensity around what trying to achieve. diverse engagement – career stage, ethnicity, gender.
Plan to share reading lists; give greater context of Global South, especially important in Schools of Management; attention also to impact activities. Taking a positive view on Econ Geog
Writing a book for Bristol University press - 30 chapters – on women’s voices in Econ Geog. Lots of scholars from global south.
Aiming to be more pluralistic and to engage with younger econ geographers.
Emerging research area. Lots of ECRs, need space and recognition of work they are doing. Conversation around BLM. Created sub-committee to look more broadly at issues. Committee pretty diverse reflecting diversity of ECRs. Ethnicity, gender, sexual identity. Looking to an event in 2022 with SSQRG
Contract to do a book - Elgar - Research Agendas in Digital Geographies - Tess Osbourne taking lead. Use the 2021 symposium to think through agenda for digital, and then develop chapters for volume.
Working on an EDI statement (although note that there are wider queries (from plenary discussion) around the need for/value of such a statement)
not explicit EDI agenda, but very good at supporting ECRs. Female-dominated group. Fallen into patterns of practice. Keen to pick up re issues around race, sexuality.
Having trilingual committee meetings, accepting that not everyone will understand everything all of the time. Led to a broader consideration of how all groups could include multiple languages (e.g. technologies to enable if on Zoom).
Discussion of timings of conference sessions/workshops, especially if aiming to have a certain group participate (acknowledging that can't be inclusive of all timezones)
Ensuring that committee is diverse, especially for groups for whom this is a particular consideration (e.g. Latin American group) - not all British geographers
Digital events enable voice of the global south. But challenge of costs – flight, hotel etc for conference.
Culture of the group in the right place, but not particularly proactive EDI agenda. Many ECRs directly involved, in and beyond academia. Digital AGM by far most accessible ever. Thinking how to get more engagement through digital means at the conference. Speaks to the ethics of the group.
Successful work done on mentoring schemes; successful workshop for mid-career women looking at professorship. Happy to discuss with other Research Groups exploring these issues.
Importance of avoiding a deficit model – there are wider structural issues here. Important that individuals (particularly those in precarious positions) do not blame themselves. How to work within (and challenge, where possible) these existing realities and provide support that will actually help.
Have named EDI officer on committee.
Carrying out EDI survey among postgraduates.
Tension – At the very time people are very stretched, it is challenging to ask people to do more. Importance of manageable objectives. This is not an issue that will be solved overnight.
Challenges of time zones; languages.
Who is being approached/stepping forward to do this work? Are we risking reinscribing these same EDI issues in terms of who is doing this work (ECR, women, BAME, etc.)?
Particular needs to support precarious colleagues.
Reading lists for courses/authorship – gender; global south authors.
RG committees, increasing diversity on these:
Need to develop effective strategies to encourage people to stand/participate (but recognising work/demands on those in these roles).
Named EDI reps and/or EDI subcommittee?
Importance of structured spaces for these conversations/this work.
Networking – peer; and ECR/senior … making connections. Focus on ECRs but also ensure meeting of scholars from across career stages - whether in Zoom meetings, in person, or through various new digital tech.
These can significantly widen opportunities for attendance/participation; not without their own challenges.
Online networking platforms – gather advice/experiment (eg GatherTown)
Thinking through (online) coffee morning activities and similar, and the value these could have.
Grants to groups to give £ for digital access (phone time) to participants in online events/conference (being explored for RGS-IBG AC2021)
Action plans – how best to develop and deliver these.
We will revisit these discussions at Research Group Sub-Committee (see below on EDI as a standing item going forward) and will use these to compile a dynamic document to be shared more widely.
EDI to become standing item on agenda for Research Groups Sub-Committee (as it is in R&HE)
PGF – opportunity for more senior colleagues to join PGF Mid-Term Conference Slack channel
Aimee Morse to send details to RHED for wider circulation
Increasing RG committee diversity to be discussed at RG Discussion Forum on AGM planning, scheduled for Monday 21 June 2021
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Dr Simon Tate (Newcastle University) and Dr Lynda Yorke (Bangor University)
Dr Simon Tate (Newcastle University) and Dr Lynda Yorke (Bangor University).
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