This research consisted of interviews and meetings which took time. Each interview was 30 minutes to an hour. The webinar I hosted was an hour. My Capstone presentation was 10 to 15 minutes. Each meeting I set with my mentor was about 30 minutes.
The main skill that I was able to develop even further was my communication skills. Racism is one of the hardest conversations to have because of its historical complexity. A key takeaway was being able to hold conversations while allowing a safe space for people to talk about their experiences free of judgement and criticism. Having these comfortable spaces sets a standard that will make more people feel the need to share their experiences and gives them a chance to feel heard.
Throughout the interviews that I have conducted, I was able to make mistakes as well as have successes. The main success that I was able to have was meeting and interacting with new people, as well as share their experiences through the webinar. I was also able to hold focus groups that actively called out racism and sexism in the institution that I work for. These places were willing to create change and reform the way that their system is run. A failure I came across was not being able to share this information with more people. These are important conversations to conduct. By sharing this information and making it more accessible, women and BIPOC’s stories will be heard in order for reform to happen.
Conducting these interviews and meeting different people throughout my research has allowed me to view inclusion and diversity in a different light, one that will not hold people of color responsible for a problem that they did not create. I found myself talking more about how to create welcoming spaces instead of how to create diverse ones. These conversations have allowed me to understand experiences and realize that sustaining and creating diversity is more than just a number issue, but it is a culture issue.
Discussing this issue with different people also gave me the opportunity to build connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I was able to talk to scientists and students in STEM from different backgrounds and gain insight to other people’s circumstances. This was a learning experience that I would not have in other situations. Hearing stories about people’s experiences allowed my passions for STEM and inclusivity to increase. Although I will be attending a predominantly white institution for college, I will be actively holding these conversations to ensure that the community around me accepts and welcomes people.