The solution involves creating focus groups and team building with a Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) team. DEAI teams can help answer the question, “What does diversity and inclusion look like?”
The focus groups and interviews I conducted and participated in actively discussed the problems that students in the museum work program, Sci.CORPS, felt as students of color working in the Yale Peabody Museum. Data from this program has never been collected, despite being the number one people who experience visitor interactions in the museum. Having focus groups with the program, along with museum staff helped the predominantly white institution understand what their experiences are like in order to start taking steps to create inclusive environments. I was able to share this information to the EVOLUTION After School program at the Yale Peabody Museum. The students in this program are actively interested in STEM and by having these conversations, it shows that this is an issue that should be resolved and taken care of.
Definition of the Problem
The problem that I noticed was there were not a lot of staff in the museum who looked like me. I even became a staff member myself, along with other BIPOC in high school, teaching science around the museum. Our program has been tokenized by the staff multiple times. I wanted to research and talk to people about how we can recognize BIPOC and women for their contributions and not just for an institution’s image.
Inclusion should not be centered around bringing in numbers of minorities to fix an issue created by white supremacy, but predominantly white institutions should recognize their privilege in order to allow BIPOC to feel comfortable. Institutions struggle with diversity because the lack of inclusion makes people of color feel inferior and does not allow them to reach for help that would help them in these situations. Allowing people of color to thrive will drive more BIPOC to pursue STEM if they are successful in these careers. We should recognize the struggles that BIPOC go through in order to sustain the diversity that is idealized.
Creativity & Innovation
Conversations around diversity are hard to manage because they can spiral into sub factors that drive the focus of the topic away from the main problem: white supremacy and patriarchy. Creating focus groups and listening to BIPOC and women tell their stories allows them to share their experiences with other people that they represent in order for them to feel comfortable to enter these spaces while also calling out problematic systems that actively gain from the oppression of women and people of color.
My project was thorough and in depth with my research. Due to the complexity of racism and the different subtopics it may bring to a conversation, I was uniquely able to characterize my research while hitting each point and being specific. I was able to create conversations and meet people to actively reform the problems within an institution and the STEM community. My project was widely discussed in the Yale Peabody Museum, meaning that these stories will be able to change the problems of the system.
The theme of Reimagining is incorporated into my project through the reform of predominantly white institutions' definition of inclusivity. This is done by understanding what a person of color’s experience is like in STEM and what they wish they had to help them if they were struggling in these spaces. It is also important to recognize how institutions treat minorities in cases of discrimination and what can be done to eliminate implicit biases. We imagine what an inclusive environment should look like in order for BIPOC to succeed in a field that is dominated by a majority race.