Diversity Statement

Empowering Women in Science Diversity Statement

Empowering Women in Science (EWIS) members include a variety of working professionals including staff, postdoctoral fellows and associates, graduate scientists, undergraduate students and faculty at the University of Minnesota. EWIS was created to highlight the work of women scientists, as women are still professionally underrepresented and face significant challenges at the highest professional levels. Founders and the first steering committee members were from the Center for Immunology (CFI) within the University of Minnesota. Currently,  EWIS steering committee members represent a diverse group of women and underrepresented minority members of departments within the University of Minnesota such as the CFI; Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development; the Cancer Center; Pediatrics; Health; Neurosciences; Psychology; College of Veterinary Medicine; College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; College of Science and Engineering; Center for Autoimmune Diseases Research; Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and BioTechnology Institute; Department of Physiology and Integrative Biology; Brain Tumor Program, and the Department of Biological Sciences Duluth.

As scientists, we strive to be impartial in our work and in our assessment of the work of our peers and colleagues. However, we are also people who live in a white-privileged society that prioritizes the needs, goals, and safety of white people over people of color, particularly Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). The academic system in which we function is not immune to this societal structure; indeed, academia’s historical roots and present functioning clearly prioritize the success of white scientists over non-white scientists. The scientific questions we ask, how we answer them, and which groups in society benefit from those answers are all reflective of the inequality present in our scientific enterprise, as well as our wider world. Indeed, the very buildings in which we conduct our research are built on land stolen from the Daḳota people in 1805

At EWIS, we seek to recognize and dismantle the deep inequalities inherent in academia, which are particularly harmful for BIPOC. As a group seeking to support and uplift women in STEM, we particularly recognize the intersectional harms of racism and sexism for women of color in STEM, and how other identities such as religion, disability, neurodivergence, sexuality, gender identity, and class can synergistically marginalize minority groups. We encourage all of our members to consider the ways in which racism and racial biases in academic spaces have manifested in their own lives and careers, both in the form of privilege and in the form of discrimination. We provide a variety of events and resources to educate scientists and increase their awareness about the various inequalities in academia, as well as actions to combat such inequalities. Additionally, we challenge our members to be anti-racist in their actions; not just reading about inequality, but actively working to combat and dismantle it from the individual to the institutional level. EWIS will keep working hard to create a welcoming and diverse environment in science. 

We have provided a reading list here for those who would like to learn more about racism in academia. As a starting point, check out Ten simple rules for building an anti-racist lab, which describes small changes all labs can make to become more anti-racist. Undoing centuries of racial inequity and discrimination in STEM is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one to create a more equitable future.