During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a group of geneticists studying the cellular processes of meiosis had a hypothetical discussion of how to support the inclusion of underrepresented groups in their communities. Currently, Katherine Billmyre of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, María Angélica Bravo Núñez of Harvard University, Francesca Cole of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues outline the outcome action plan in an open access journal opinion piece. PLOS genetics..
The definition of a researcher in an underrepresented group is broad, but underrepresented gender, race, or Ethnic group, People with disabilities, or people with neurodiversity, LGBTQ + part of the community, people with disadvantaged backgrounds, or first-generation college students. Individuals in these groups face a lack of representation in academia and many other challenges, as explained in the webinar “Meiosis in Quarantine.”
The first part of the plan focuses on increasing diversity and inclusiveness in academia. Action items include diversifying the list of people invited to speak, providing innovative and comprehensive networking opportunities, and addressing barriers that impede direct attendance. Financial support If it contains travel or virtual conferencing components.
The Action Plan also outlines steps to increase diversity and fairness outside the meeting. In particular, it can address the lack of representation among genetics research leaders and discourage the pursuit of academia by trainees from underrepresented groups.To solve this problem, the plan includes a call from kindergarten to encourage interest in the STEM field. Undergraduate educationRemove obstacles that prevent diverse individuals from entering graduate School, Improve the internal culture of the institute and address faculty recruitment inequality.
The authors acknowledge that the issues addressed by their action plans go far beyond the genetics community and call for major institutional reforms. These include better retention of diverse faculty and better benefits for postdoctoral researchers who are also family caregivers.
The authors hope that the Action Plan will improve diversity, inclusiveness, and impartiality in and beyond post-pandemic meetings, both in genetics and in other scientific disciplines. Not only do they believe that fair treatment is a moral obligation, but it is widely accepted that the diverse scientific communities can help facilitate discovery and innovation.
“During the’Meiosis in Quarantine’virtual conference, our community of trainees discussed the barriers faced by undervalued individuals in science,” Cole adds. “As a group, we have created a strategic diversity and comprehensive action plan that is widely applicable to the genetics and biomedical research communities.”
Billmyre KK, Bravo Núñez MA, Bishop DK, Cole F (2021) Meiosis in the quarantine debate leads to an action plan to increase diversity and inclusion within the genetics community. PLoS Genet 17 (7): e1009648. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009648
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Geneticists outline plans to increase diversity and include it in their field
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