In 2018 we launched a diversity, equity, wellness, and inclusion (DEWI) initiative aimed at combating issues that underlie underrepresentation in STEM, as well as improve the overall inclusivity of and wellness within our own academic environment!
The DEWI initiative is a grassroots effort created by and for graduate students with the intention of working alongside the Department of Chemistry administration to increase representation of minority groups, promote equity and inclusion within our academic community, reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health, and begin to induce positive change within our Department’s academic culture as defined by the student body.
Since starting this initiative, we have:
- Designed and administered an annual academic climate survey to assess the issues affecting diversity and inclusivity within our community
- Reformatted and hosted a town hall in which groups of faculty and students brainstormed practical solutions to the issues raised in the climate survey data
- Begun working with faculty and administration to make institutional changes including:
- Updating policies and resources in the chemistry graduate student handbook—we added a a section that highlights the options available to students who do not pass their qualifying exams or decide to leave the program
- Change faculty hiring practices within the chemistry department
- Diversify graduate student orientation and recruitment
- Modify graduate student social events to make them more inclusive
- Highlight mental health awareness
- Worked with GSAC to found a diversity and inclusion focus group (DIFG) series to provide a safe, accessible space for faculty, staff and students to openly discuss DEWI issues. For this work, we won a SEED grant from the PATH to Care center.
- Implemented a peer-lead sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention workshop in place of a dated university-wide program.
In April 2019, we concluded a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to support this DEWI initiative—check out our crowdfunding site for details on how we will spend our funds. Thank you to everyone who supported this effort, and continues to do so!
We are excited to continue to making the Department of Chemistry a more diverse, welcoming and inclusive space for all graduate students, staff and faculty!
Check out our recent publication in J. Chem. Ed. about the ways we have been using evidence-based discussions to foster community and improve inclusivity within the Department of Chemistry!
- Stachl, C.; Hartman, E.; Wemmer, D.; Francis, M. Grassroots efforts to quantify and improve the academic climate of an R1 STEM department: Using evidence-based discussions to foster community, J. Chem. Ed., 2019, https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00163