‘You may never know what results come of your actions but if you do nothing there will be no results’
Action through tough conversations
In the summer of 2016, as a third year PhD student, I gathered a small group of women at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory to discuss actions to increase inclusivity within our department. A few months later we had our first Gender and Diversity Coffee hour. We met monthly, initially with no agenda, to talk about things that bothered us and to explore what could be done both in the short and long-term.
What started as a small grass-roots initiative, evolved into a widely attended monthly meeting, where we covered many subjects (some “tabooed”) including family and academia, harassment, impostor syndrome, academia stress culture, mental health stigma, long distance relationships, minorities being penalized for promoting women and minorities issues, non-binary identities and more.
Some conversations were very hard: the lesson that different people experience reality in different ways is not an easy one. Nevertheless, these meetings provided space for people to express their feelings and frustrations, while also listening, building understanding, and developing actionable solutions. Varied feedback has shown that people have come out of the meetings feeling empowered to make their work environment healthier and more inclusive. In what has since become an inseparable part of the institutional routine, and which is now left to run by other talented hands, I believe this group contributed significantly to cultural changes at Lamont.
THE GENDER & DIVERSITY GROUP
The Eye, November 14, 2019
In November 2019, Columbia's weekly arts and features magazine, The Eye, published a three part long piece about systemic harassment and discrimination and interviewed me about my DEI work at Lamont.
Medium, March, 2021
I recently published a piece about my experience as an international grad-student and the community I created to address Gender and Diversity issues.