6 May 2020
By AGU President Robin Bell, AGU President-elect Susan Lozier and AGU Sr. Vice President, Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion Billy Williams
Today, AGU released its annual ethics report detailing the efforts of our community to support greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the sciences. The report describes a strong foundation as AGU works to create a more welcoming community and underscores our commitment to fostering the culture change needed to create a scientific enterprise that is safe and inclusive for everyone. AGU’s new strategic plan embraces the goal of promoting and exemplifying an inclusive scientific culture.
Some highlights from 2019 that will serve as a foundation for the new strategic plan implementation include:
- Launching the AGU Ethics and Equity Center. In 2019, AGU formally launched the AGU Ethics and Equity Center to tackle the issues of bias, harassment and discrimination to foster safe work environments. In addition to featuring best practices, the Center provides access to a problem-solving consultation for student and early-career members who have been the targets of harassment or other forms of misconduct.
- Developing new materials to help address harassment in STEM. Last October, AGU, through support from the Rockefeller Family Fund, hosted an event with the Urban Institute and the National Women’s Law Center to discuss how to address harassment in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workplace. Five promising practices were identified at the convening and compiled in a recently released report, “Promising Practices for Addressing Harassment in the STEM Workplace: How to Lead in Today’s Environment.”
- Securing grants and external funding. AGU was awarded a three-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to launch “The AGU Ethics and Equity Initiative: Catalyzing Cultural Change in the Sciences with New Resources and Tracking Tools.” This joint initiative with AGU’s partner, the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, will create a set of new resources that can be broadly adopted by the scientific community to build a more robust, conscientious culture through novel tools that can map culture change. This includes the creation of a series of educational videos and learning modules where participants can learn practical and effective ways to address bias, harassment and bullying.
- Diversifying AGU Honors and Recognition. In 2018, the Council Leadership Team found that few women were being nominated for and receiving AGU’s highest honors. In response, the AGU Honors and Recognition Committee and the AGU Council actively worked to widen the nomination pool. As a result, 18 women earned Union awards, medals and prizes in 2019 compared to five in 2018. Making implicit bias training part of the selection committee process, providing a best-practice guide and deepening the bench on selection committees also helped to increase the diversity of honors recipients.
These are just some of the many steps AGU took last year to foster a safe and inclusive environment in the geosciences. We urge you to read the full report to find out the various ways that our community is making a difference.
We are proud to be part of an organization that is a leader in supporting greater diversity in the sciences. We also realize there is more work to be done and look forward to working with the entire AGU community to continue to build on our successes in 2020 and beyond.