The US education system has a diversity problem. Throughout my career, I have benefited from the privilege of being a white male in the field. My identity means that people do not automatically discount my credibility when they first meet me, that I usually do not hear degrading comments like “you don’t look like a student,” and that I am constantly on the positive side of unconscious biases when my colleagues evaluate my work. These patterns of exclusion are not only unjust; they also limit the range of perspectives that can contribute to technical work. Our society needs to work to improve inclusion, both in academia and in various other industries that most of our students will enter after graduation. I am committed to addressing this problem.Order now
During my time as an Educational Advisor, I have advised students ranging from high school seniors to adult learners. I have also helped to mentor younger students from diverse backgrounds. And I have participated in department-wide and one-on-one discussions to hear the frustrations that underrepresented groups feel. This listening process has helped me understand the kinds of day-to-day behaviors that can make people feel that academia is “not for them.” For example, one student told me about her experiences when she was paired with men for course projects. Whenever she asked for help, the instructor(s) would listen to her question and then, instead of answering to her, talk directly to her male colleague(s) instead. This story and others like it made me more aware of the quiet incidents of bias that can go undetected while they contribute to exclusion in our educational system. I actively work to avoid unconscious preferences in my own interactions with everyone in my department, and I am a contributing member to our department’s inclusive culture.
I hope to continue working to address diversity problems as a student services professional. As an advisor, I will work to recruit students that contribute to the universities diverse culture. As an instructor, I will encourage all students to recognize that diversity and inclusion—both in industry and continuing in academia—can be welcoming and supportive, even when the stress of being in the minority becomes prevalent. I am inspired by the recent success at my undergraduate institution, Northern Arizona University, in balancing the gender ratio among students by compensating for the head start that many male college freshmen enter with. I will look for opportunities to contribute to inclusion in the undergraduate curriculum for students who did not have access to post-secondary preparation in high school. Above all, I recognize that I do not have all the answers—I will keep listening to other perspectives to understand how our field needs to evolve.