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Article Contents

Gender, age, and body, race and ethnicity, social class and social status, religion and cultural identity, breaking new ground in diversity, equity, and inclusion in consumer research, gender, age, and the body: gaps and research questions, race and ethnicity: gaps and research questions, social class and social status: gaps and research questions, religion and cultural identity: gaps and research questions, asking pressing questions at intersections and beyond, articles in curation.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Journal of Consumer Research : A Curation and Research Agenda

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Zeynep Arsel, David Crockett, Maura L Scott, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Journal of Consumer Research : A Curation and Research Agenda, Journal of Consumer Research , Volume 48, Issue 5, February 2022, Pages 920–933, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucab057

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has become ubiquitous in public and academic discourse. This is despite ongoing contests over definitions and the lack of a clear consensus about the relative importance (and even the appropriate order) of each component. For our purposes, diversity refers broadly to real or perceived physical or socio-cultural differences attributed to people and the representation of these differences in research, market spaces, and organizations. Equity refers to fairness in the treatment of people in terms of both opportunity and outcome. Inclusion refers to creating a culture that fosters belonging and incorporation of diverse groups and is usually operationalized as opposition to exclusion or marginalization. Taken together, DEI is typically accompanied by an axiological orientation toward procedural and distributive justice in organizations and institutions.

In this curation, we highlight representative research published in the Journal of Consumer Research that directly and indirectly explores DEI issues primarily along the following axes of difference illustrated in figure 1 : gender, age, and body; race and ethnicity; social class and social status; and religion and cultural identity. These, in many respects, define the visible contours of everyday life. They are at least representative and may not be exhaustive. In the figure, we depict them as distinct but connected “stations” where subjectivities and structures collide and cluster intersectionally, rather than as flat positions of longitude and latitude situated in Euclidian space. We also illustrate two overlapping lenses that focus attention on specific features of DEI’s ontology. Each promotes a situated perspective on the axes, with the “Marketplace structure, stigma, and consumer vulnerability” lens calibrated to structural issues associated with disparity and fairness in the marketplace. The “Consumer identity and agency, mobilization, and autonomy” lens is calibrated to agentic issues associated with identity and practice in everyday life. Although each lens promotes a situated perspective, what they bring into view is neither predetermined nor fixed. Either can bring into view a marketplace premised on equality that promotes well-being or one premised on inequality that promotes oppression.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN CONSUMER RESEARCH

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN CONSUMER RESEARCH

A research curation necessarily involves imposing order on a disciplinary literature. But we begin by underlining our intent not to single out the small handful of articles we include as exclusive markers of quality. Rather, among the many that have contributed to a rich conversation in the journal, we highlight a representative set that exemplifies and draws the reader’s attention to certain features of each axis in figure 1 . Given limited space, we provide a more comprehensive listing of representative work in the journal that touches on DEI issues in table 1 . In addition, the reader will note that many articles we highlight are situated along multiple axes simultaneously, even when our discussion focuses on only one. We trust that upon reading this curation, the potential and generativity of existing DEI-oriented consumer research in the journal will be evident, as will be the need for consumer researchers to continue breaking new ground. Given its importance and seemingly natural connection to consumption and market systems, more research that cuts across numerous intersecting axes of difference and intentionally brings DEI implications to the fore is welcome and needed.

EXAMPLES OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION (DEI) RESEARCH IN THE JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH

NOTE.— This table provides a representative listing of a selection of JCR articles since 1983, exhibiting some connections to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Axes discussed in this article. This is not intended to be a complete or systematic review of JCR or the consumer behavior literature.

We begin by highlighting Scaraboto and Fischer's (2013) work on Fatshionistas, which takes an inclusive axiological position in understanding the relationship between gender, body size, and consumption. Instead of problematizing women with heavier bodies as lesser consumers whose bodies need to be remedied by weight loss or dietary changes to participate in the market, the authors start with the premise that the market provides inadequate offerings for underserved consumers. They demonstrate how the stigmatization of body weight—exacerbated by beauty norms, fashion systems, and medicalized discourses that exclusively pathologize high body mass—contributes to the underserving of larger-sized women in fashion markets.

The Fatshionistas’ market-changing project is notable because underserved consumers routinely choose not to pursue further market inclusion, due in part to internalized stigma and attenuated access to empowering cultural resources or strategies. But rather than accept inadequate market offerings and limit themselves to the “plus-size” niche, the participants in this study utilize their cultural and social capital to mobilize a collective identity and appropriate logics from adjacent fields such as the Fat Acceptance Movement to transform mainstream market offerings into something they could accept. Of course, such a remedy will not be available to every underserved consumer who is potentially stigmatized on any number of bases. The Fatshionistas seek to transform markets based on relative social advantages that exist in contradistinction to their stigmatized bodies.

Barnhart and Peñaloza (2013) explore age as a relatively neglected identity that is often invisible in research and practice, despite increasingly older populations around the world. They show that consumption is never a solitary pursuit for people with diminished physical capabilities (due to aging, disability, or both). They investigate the role of what is often an ensemble of family members, service providers, and friends in providing support to aging adults as they lose independence. The ensemble shapes and co-produces aged consumer identities and inscribes and affirms consumption meanings. The authors show how this co-production of aged identity is fraught with contest and negotiation, based on tensions between aging consumers and their care ensemble, as well as misalignments between old age as a subject position and aging as an identity project shaped by dominant cultural discourses and understandings about “getting old.” They show that despite a cultural shift toward seeing aging more positively, the marketplace still largely constructs it as a stigmatized identity. They also highlight the ways that care can appear to enable aged consumers while actually repressing or discouraging them and stripping them of agency. They discuss ways co-consumers (and co-producers) of care ensembles can generate supportive, dignified, and positive meanings while providing assistance. In understanding the practices of consumers who may frequently need interpersonal or market-based assistance, one should include and acknowledge joint consumption and intersubjective production of consumer identities.

In sum, this research finds that consumers’ gender, body type, or age may be treated as stigmatizing attributes that influence their marketplace experiences. Women in particular face unique and often magnified challenges based on body type norms. Furthermore, personal characteristics like disability or elderly status can diminish an individual’s transformative capacity by rendering them not merely less apt to be respected but also dependent on others’ resources to participate in the marketplace.

A prominent perspective on race and ethnicity in DEI-oriented consumer research examines it through the lens of disadvantage or vulnerability. In that vein, Bone, Christensen, and Williams (2014) identify marketplace restrictions experienced by Black and Hispanic consumers seeking financial services. The authors lay bare the “systemic, chronic, and uncontrollable” restrictions on options these consumers confront based on service providers’ race and ethnic bias and the corresponding downstream impact on well-being and judgments about the marketplace. They employ a multi-method approach to uncovering insights into the experiences of Black and Hispanic consumers, who are not widely represented in consumer behavior research. This includes an innovative “mystery shopper” field study approach, where a multi-racial and multi-ethnic group of study confederates visit banks as loan seekers. They find that non-White (vs. White) loan seekers are treated more poorly by loan officers in objective terms. They were asked to provide more documentation and offered less information in response to their queries, acts of discretion with direct implications for the potential outcomes of the loan application process. They reveal the psychological impact of such restrictions on consumers through a series of depth interviews, in which non-White (vs. White) consumers correctly perceive a subordinated position that limits their ability to pursue self-directed goals and whatever freedoms the market might provide. They conduct an experiment to identify the underlying psychological mechanisms of this perception, namely diminished self-esteem and autonomy. That is, when Black and Hispanic consumers experience racial and ethnic discrimination in financial services, they liken the loan seeking experience to a hopeless battle. As decades of research have demonstrated, this harms their financial prospects and well-being. We note that discrimination in financial services also has the potential to harm the bank’s brand.

Cultural identity is another perspective on DEI in consumer research. Using that lens, Rodas, John, and Torelli (2021) examine the perception of bicultural consumers, who internalize two cultural identities (e.g., Hispanic-American, Asian-American). The authors propose that bicultural (vs. monocultural) consumers will find “paradox brands,” which reflect contradictory meanings (e.g., a brand personality that is both rugged and sophisticated), relatively more appealing. In a series of experiments, including a field study of Latino and White participants in their respective community markets, they find that bicultural consumers tend to favor paradox brands. This preference for paradox brands is driven by cognitive flexibility. That is, bicultural consumers can be more or less cognitively flexible (with more or less integration among their multiple identities). As cognitive flexibility and cultural identity integration increase for bicultural consumers, so does their preference for paradox brands. For monocultural consumers (e.g., non-Hispanic White), priming cognitive flexibility also increases their favorability toward paradox brands. The underlying process provides important insights into how the lived experiences of bicultural consumers shape their perceptions of marketplace offerings. That is, bicultural consumers, based on internalizing multiple (sometimes contradictory) cultural identities, value and appreciate brands with multiple identities.

Social class position is in part created and maintained by consumption practices that vary across groups and cluster within groups based on similar assumptions about how consumption generates value. Consumer research on social class and status has largely operated as part of two distinct but overlapping traditions. One focuses on the generation, maintenance, and expression of social class boundaries in consumption, typically operationalized as status. The other focuses on the social psychological and behavioral implications of social class groupings, typically operationalized as clusters of similar perceptions and attitudes. Both traditions incorporate direct (e.g., income and wealth) and indirect (e.g., postal codes, education level, and occupational status) measures of social rank.

Saatcioglu and Ozanne (2013) explore the generation and maintenance of social class boundaries in everyday life through the habitus, a set of mostly embodied dispositions that functions similarly to a milieu. They uncover five status groups localized among residents of a mobile-home park organized around a distinct set of largely embodied moral dispositions (i.e., Nesters, Homesteaders, and Community Builders; Reluctant Emigrants and Outcasts). These dispositions adopted by park residents, taken together, constitute the habitus, which helps create and reinforce moral identity in the park and in the community immediately outside it. The mobile-home park, perhaps the quintessential residential marker of working-class poverty in the United States, is widely stigmatized as low status. Each moral disposition serves as field-dependent capital at the park, marking distinctions between those who are otherwise stigmatized. Unlike others, field-dependent capital is not convertible to economic, social, or other types of capital when transferred to other settings. Instead, its purpose is to help people navigate social life in a specific setting. Its value to the bearer is, in this instance, confined to the park. And it shapes and is shaped by residents’ mostly home-focused consumption practices. They construct and affirm moral identities by engaging in social comparisons of field-dependent capital with neighbors in the park and the surrounding community. The authors remind us that the relationship between consumption and social class (or status group) is not deterministic. Rather, consumption and social class are mutually constituting.

The literature does, of course, at times, demonstrate regularities in consumption behavior by social class group. For instance, Yan, Keh, and Chen (2021) demonstrate that demand for utilitarian “green” products (e.g., energy efficient light bulbs) is highest among the middle class. They reveal an underlying connection between social class and demand driven by a tension between need for differentiation and need for assimilation. Notably, that tension only emerges when neither need is dominant, and this occurs most prevalently among the middle class. By contrast, a single need tends to dominate among the so-called upper and lower classes. Consumers classified as upper class, whose need for differentiation is dominant, find green consumption too assimilating. Consumers classified as lower class, whose need for assimilation is dominant, find it too differentiating. A dominant need attenuates demand for green products. It is only among members of the middle class, where no single need is dominant, that a legitimate tension emerges that generates a dual motivation to satisfy both needs that green consumption satisfies.

Consumer researchers have long studied the nexus of consumption, markets, and religion. We highlight Appau, Ozanne, and Klein’s (2020) study of Ghanaian converts to Pentecostalism, as an exemplar of research situated at that nexus. The Ghanaian context is especially well-suited to generate insights into this phenomenon because it is both a highly marketized and an exceptionally competitive religious consumptionscape. It also operates with very different notions of personhood than the fully-agentic, utility-maximizing consumer who is largely taken for granted in marketing and consumer research set in North America and Western Europe. In many places outside those settings, personhood is conceptualized in dividual rather than individual terms. The dividual is a microcosm of social relationships, a site where they all meet. The authors use the dividual to explain the permanence among Ghanaian Pentecostal converts of what is generally thought to be a transitional phase—from secular to “born again” life. They conceptually unpack the paradoxical notion of “permanent liminality” among converts, which they experience as a state of being an unfinished dividual, caught between a desired and an undesired in/dividuality.

Although it is obvious to the point of trite to state that the Journal of Consumer Research needs additional research on DEI, it is not our intent in this curation to frame this entirely as a problem to be solved. Rather, it is to show, by dimensionalizing and highlighting well-regarded, recently published JCR , that DEI-oriented consumer research has taken institutional root at the journal and to point to opportunities to continue its cultivation. In table 2 , we present opportunities at each axis in the form of potential gaps in current knowledge, which shapes a collection of corresponding sample research questions that might guide future work. We note straightaway that some important consumption domains remain all but entirely absent in the journal. For example, more research is needed on human sexuality, and there is opportunity for more work on disability and diminished physical capacity. We need to know much more about a diverse range of consumption-oriented identity projects as people navigate the marketplace. In addition, consumer research needs deeper exploration of subject positions at various intersections, some of which exacerbate marketplace challenges and some of which consolidate privilege (see Güliz Ger’s curation on intersectionality published in 2018). Nevertheless, we remain excited about the potential for emergent DEI research to transform the field. To generate discussion, ideas, and future research streams, we propose a selection of key topics at each axis where additional research could address significant gaps in current knowledge about consumers and consumption and point readers to a more extensive treatment in table 2 .

EXAMPLES OF POTENTIAL FUTURE RESEARCH QUESTIONS RELATING TO CONSUMER RESEARCH AND DEI

In this historical moment, everyone is grappling with the profound challenges to the discourses on gender expression and the body that has emerged in socio-cultural life. Contested alterations to taken for granted aspects of gender and the body are intensely multi-polar, far too complex and liquid for traditional dyadic notions of the masculine and feminine. They are as subversive as non-gendered pronouns and as radical as gender reassignment. Consumers’ aging journey is fluid in other ways, and they navigate changes to health, financial and social status, and balancing their corresponding needs (e.g., reduced stigma, increased dignity, using technological resources to support these needs and continue to make meaningful contributions to society). The implications of these challenges for consumers and consumption, for marketers, for policy makers, and every other possible market systems stakeholder are widely acknowledged to be profound but are at present scarcely theorized. Research questions that would explore these implications should not be hard to craft, but we would point to classic research questions around role portrayal and representation in media and popular culture as being of immediate importance.

As many scholars have noted, products and brands commonly draw signifying power from the socio-cultural world that can help draw attention and gain mindshare. They embed themselves in various consumer collectives (e.g., brand communities, subcultures of consumption, tribes) in ways that can grant them an aura of authenticity. At moments, consumers and other actors oppose and resist their extraction of socio-cultural value through what they justly describe as cultural appropriation. It is not uncommon, however, for accusations of appropriation to operate as a derogatory term rather than a concept with analytical power. We believe that important theoretical and conceptual work remains to be done on cultural appropriation as a phenomenon. What does it mean? What are its boundaries? More importantly, through what processes and practices does it occur?

Marketplace inclusion has long stood as a taken for granted objective for vulnerable and so-called bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers. Since the consumer disadvantage studies of the 1970s and 1980s, increased marketplace literacy in various forms (economic, financial, technological, and literal) has been widely touted as the foundation upon which any other interventions intended to remediate vulnerability and disadvantage must build. Our intent is certainly not to disparage any such efforts. Rather, it is to add that prevailing levels of social class inequality in many parts of the world simply demand more focused attention on the inequality-generating actions of businesses and elites. Where that has traditionally been the province of scholars interested in what happens on the factory floor, the marketplace has long been an independent site of inequality production. In the neoliberal era, defined in no small part by financial sector dominance over the state, consumers are commonly made vulnerable or disadvantaged by structural features of their communities and the predatory actions of marketers rather than by their limited stores of knowledge. We believe research that explores the inequality-generating and reducing practices of marketers and public policy makers remains as relevant today as ever.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, some evidence from the United States suggests that the lines separating religious theology and nationalism are blurred. Their intersection and interaction typically reduce the inclusion of the vulnerable and underrepresented. For instance, religious extremism is associated with negative attitudes toward equity in healthcare and education. Ideological resistance to equity and inclusion raises more general questions about the connection between ideology, religious identity, nationalism, and consumption. Namely, what is the relationship between contemporary nationalistic and religious extremist movements and self—or cultural—expression via consumption? That is, what role does consumption play for movement organizations and adherents, respectively, as a problem whose resolution mobilizes resources and action versus a means of submission or subversion?

Lastly, we ask scholars to tackle big picture questions that rest on the intersections of the four themes above and deal with macro issues and society as a whole. We note that the fluidity across all these axes must be addressed in future research. As more discussions about DEI takes place in academia, policy spaces, and boardrooms, how can scholarly work develop frameworks and tools to help society be more inclusive? How can media representations of diversity translate into inclusion and equity, and combat harmful stigmas around skin color, body size, and aging? How can we transform beauty and fashion industries? How can we provide dignified and accessible essential services to all members of society without predatory design?

We end the curation on an emancipatory note. We hope that researchers and practitioners will be mindful of our contributions to marketplace exclusion and stigma in practice. Too often we problematize identities that fall outside societal norms and offer consumption-oriented remedies that purport to “solve” already marginalized identities. These can push consumers toward risky (or harmful) products such as weight loss remedies, skin lightening and “age defying” creams, conversion therapy, plastic surgery. We can strive to conceptualize and construct a marketplace that is a celebratory and empowering space. This requires a more egalitarian and pluralist approach to understanding and serving consumers who are ascribed minority status, more participatory forms of research and data collection, and ensuring that amongst researchers and practitioners we also strive for representation, equity, and inclusion.

Zeynep Arsel ( [email protected] ) is a Concordia University Research Chair in Consumption, Markets, and Society at Concordia University, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. West, Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada.

David Crockett ( [email protected] ) is a Professor of Marketing and a Moore Research Fellow at the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, 1014 Greene St., Columbia, SC 29209, USA.

Maura L. Scott ( [email protected] ) is the Persis E. Rockwood Professor of Marketing at the Florida State University, 821 Academic Way, Tallahassee, FL 32305, USA. The authors greatly appreciate the help, guidance, and involvement of June Cotte and the support of the entire JCR Editorial Team. Author names are listed alphabetically, and all authors contributed to this curation equally. The authors thank the journal’s editors Bernd Schmitt, June Cotte, Markus Giesler, Andrew Stephen, and Stacy Wood for granting the opportunity to write this curation.

This curation was invited by editors Bernd Schmitt, June Cotte, Markus Giesler, Andrew Stephen, and Stacy Wood.

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Frustrated Fatshionistas: An Institutional Theory Perspective on Consumer Quests for Greater Choice in Mainstream Markets

Daiane Scaraboto and Eileen Fischer

DOI: 10.1086/668298

Volume 39, Issue 6, April 2013

Why and how do marginalized consumers mobilize to seek greater inclusion in and more choice from mainstream markets? We develop answers to these questions drawing on institutional theory and a qualitative investigation of Fatshionistas, plus-sized consumers who want more options from mainstream fashion marketers. Three triggers for mobilization are posited: development of a collective identity, identification of inspiring institutional entrepreneurs, and access to mobilizing institutional logics from adjacent fields. Several change strategies that reinforce institutional logics while unsettling specific institutionalized practices are identified. Our discussion highlights diverse market change dynamics that are likely when consumers are more versus less legitimate in the eyes of mainstream marketers and in instances where the changes consumers seek are more versus less consistent with prevailing institutions and logics.

Who Are You Calling Old? Negotiating Old Age Identity in the Elderly Consumption Ensemble

Michelle Barnhart and Lisa Peñaloza

DOI: 10.1086/668536

As the elderly population increases, more family, friends, and paid service providers assist them with consumption activities in a group that the authors conceptualize as the elderly consumption ensemble (ECE). Interviews with members of eight ECEs demonstrate consumption in advanced age as a group phenomenon rather than an individual one, provide an account of how the practices and discourses of the ECE's division of consumption serve as a means of knowing someone is old and positioning him/her as an old subject, and detail strategies through which older consumers negotiate their age identity when it conflicts with this positioning. This research (1) illuminates ways in which consumer agency in identity construction is constrained in interpersonal interactions, (2) demonstrates old identity as implicated in consumption in relation to and distinction from physiological ability and old subject position, and (3) updates the final stages of the Family Life Cycle model.

Rejected, Shackled, and Alone: The Impact of Systemic Restricted Choice on Minority Consumers' Construction of Self

Sterling A. Bone, Glenn L. Christensen, and Jerome D. Williams

DOI: 10.1086/676689

Volume 41, Issue 2, August 2014

This research investigates the experience of systemic restricted choice and its impact on self-concept among racial and ethnic minority consumers seeking financing. Choosing loans is an involved consumer choice journey, and encountering systemic, chronic, and uncontrollable restrictions on choice at any level of the goal/choice hierarchy limits and even prohibits minorities' ability to make desired choices. Across a multimethod investigation, these three studies demonstrate that minorities experiencing systemic restricted choice endure deleterious impacts to self-concept, including framing the self as fettered, alone, discriminated, and subservient, as well as marked reductions in self-esteem, self-autonomy, and self-efficacy. Minority consumers also frame themselves as striving in a world of limited resources and fighting uphill, often losing battles. Juxtaposing the experiences of racial/ethnic minorities against the choice journeys of educationally and economically similar white consumers puts those minority experiences in sharp relief. The theoretical and transformative consumer research implications of these findings are discussed.

Building Brands for the Emerging Bicultural Market: The Appeal of Paradox Brands

Maria A Rodas, Deborah Roedder John, and Carlos J. Torelli

DOI: 10.1093/jcr/ucab037

Volume 48, Issue 4, December 2021

Bicultural consumers now represent a third of the US population and are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States. This shift in consumer markets presents a challenge for marketers as they try to design brand strategies to serve this important group. In this article, the authors show that certain types of brands, specifically paradox brands that incorporate contradictory brand meanings, are particularly appealing to bicultural consumers. Results from seven studies reveal that bicultural consumers evaluate paradox brands more favorably and choose paradox brands more than traditional brands without contradictions. Furthermore, bicultural consumers exhibit more favorable evaluations and greater choice of paradox brands than do monocultural consumers. These cultural differences are attributable to greater cognitive flexibility found among biculturals, particularly those who adopt an acculturation strategy of integrating their different cultural identities. Greater cognitive flexibility, in turn, prompts stronger engagement with a paradox brand, which contributes to more favorable brand evaluations and choice. Contributions of this research for understanding bicultural consumers, marketing to bicultural consumers, and directions for future research are discussed.

Moral Habitus and Status Negotiation in a Marginalized Working-Class Neighborhood

Bige Saatcioglu and Julie L. Ozanne

DOI: 10.1086/671794

Volume 40, Issue 4, December 2013

Examinations of the moral and ethical dimensions in identity construction are scant in consumer research. This ethnography of a trailer-park neighborhood investigates how different moral dispositions shape low-income, working-class residents' consumption practices and status negotiations. Drawing from Bourdieu's conceptualization of habitus and cultural capital, the authors extend this theory by foregrounding the moral aspects of habitus and demonstrate how morally oriented worldviews are enacted through consumption practices and social evaluations within everyday communities. The study reveals five moral identities that shape the residents' social construction of status within the microcultural context of a trailer park. These findings point to the multiplicity and richness of social-class-based dispositions as well as the importance of studying micro-level contexts to better understand macrodynamics.

Assimilating and Differentiating: The Curvilinear Effect of Social Class on Green Consumption

Li Yan, Hean Tat Keh, and Jiemiao Chen

DOI: 10.1093/jcr/ucaa041

Volume 47, Issue 6, April 2021

Building on optimal distinctiveness theory, this research examines the effects of social class on green consumption. Across six studies, we find a curvilinear effect of social class on green consumption, with the middle class having greater propensity for green consumption compared to the lower and upper classes. This effect can be explained by tension between need for assimilation (NFA) and need for differentiation (NFD) that varies among the three social classes in establishing their optimally distinctive identities. The lower class has a dominant NFA, the upper class has a dominant NFD, and the middle class has dual motivation for assimilation and differentiation. Concomitantly, green consumption has the dual function of assimilation and differentiation. The middle class perceives green consumption as simultaneously assimilating and differentiating, which satisfies their dual motivation and enhances their propensity for green consumption. By contrast, the lower class perceives the differentiation function of green consumption as contradicting their dominant NFA, and the upper class perceives the assimilation function as contradicting their dominant NFD, which lower both their propensities for green consumption. Furthermore, these effects are moderated by consumers’ power distance belief. These novel findings have significant theoretical and practical implications on building a more sustainable society.

Understanding Difficult Consumer Transitions: The In/Dividual Consumer in Permanent Liminality

Samuelson Appau, Julie L. Ozanne, and Jill G. Klein

DOI: 10.1093/jcr/ucaa010

Volume 47, Issue 2, August 2020

Some life transitions are difficult and prolonged, such as becoming an independent adult, forming a family, or adopting healthy consumption habits. Permanent liminality describes transitions that can span years and even a lifetime with no anticipated end. To understand how consumers are caught in permanent liminality, we examine how Pentecostal converts consume religious services in their difficult transition from the secular “world” to Pentecostalism. We draw on the concept of in/dividual personhood to explain how the Pentecostal dividual is coconstituted in an endless movement between the undesired “worldly” in/dividual and the contiguous incorporation into the desired Pentecostal in/dividual and structure. Pentecostals’ permanent liminality thus involves ongoing cycles of separation and incorporation within zones of indeterminacy, in which neither separation nor incorporation is ever completed. This theoretical framework explains the unfinished transition of Pentecostal converts as contested dividuals. We extend this theoretical explanation for future research on liquid modernity and consumers caught in permanent liminality.

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  • Published: 11 November 2021

Diversity, equity and inclusion: we are in it for the long run

Nature Medicine volume  27 ,  page 1851 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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We are launching a series on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in medical research and are redoubling our commitment to representation in our pages.

This issue of Nature Medicine marks the launch of a Series on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in medical research. Every month we will be bringing to our readers a spectrum of viewpoints from critical stakeholders who are shaping the DEI debate.

We start off the series with a problem that concerns every researcher worldwide: funding. Using the United States as case study, Folakemi T. Odedina and Mariana C. Stern present an overview of challenges that scientists from under-represented minority groups, such as researchers who are Black, Latinx or Indigenous, face in the context of securing research funding. Awareness of this problem has increased in the past 2 years, in the awakening of a broader acknowledgment of the impact of structural racism on every layer of society. But the authors point out that disparities in medical research are a consequence of long-term factors, including the paucity of research funding for the study of health disparities, a biased scientific review process and, most recently, the increasing burden of diversity committees and taskforces. The solution, they say, begins with remedying biases in the funding application process and prioritizing research that addresses health disparities.

In the United States, the Biden administration’s response to structural racism and under-representation in biomedical research has coalesced into the National Institutes of Health (NIH) UNITE initiative. Marie A. Bernard , Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the NIH, and her colleagues discuss the launch and priorities of the initiative, as well as how the NIH intends to measure the mid- and long-term success of the program. In their words, the NIH is committed to increasing the participation of under-represented groups in science and medicine, through changes in funding and recruitment models, as well as transparency about the workforce and reviewer demographics at funders, institutions and publishers. The intention is that these actions will also provide a blueprint for the global research community.

Any discussion on the role of funders in increasing DEI in medical research must involve non-governmental stakeholders as well. The contribution of philanthropic grant-making to the overall funding landscape has grown substantially over the past 25 years. In 2019, the US National Science Foundation estimated that up to 44% of all basic science research expenditures at American universities and research institutes was directly or indirectly funded through philanthropy. It is critical that philanthropic funders review their own practices and processes and that they are transparent in their approach to addressing gaps in representation in their own funding portfolios. Cori Bargmann , head of science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and her colleagues Anne Claiborne and Hannah Valantine discuss one such philanthropic approach toward DEI in medical research. In their view, racial equity and global inclusion are essential if biomedical science is to fulfill its mission to improve human health.

Addressing disparities in the funding of medical research also must encompass the creation of opportunities that generate a diverse workforce and foster a culture of inclusivity in science. Marcia McNutt , president of the US National Academy of Sciences, and Laura Castillo-Page, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, discuss the academies’ recent efforts to diversify its own ranks — which, in their perspective, for too many decades saw the appointment of new members who were mostly white men. Representation at the leadership level has a critical impact on the advancement of inclusivity in STEMM fields, through role modeling, embracing of diversity and creating a research culture that cares about and values differences.

The viewpoints presented in this month’s issue are intended to serve as a starting point for a much broader discussion about diversity, inclusion and equity in medical research. In upcoming months, we will be tackling issues such as the lack of diversity in medical research data, its consequences and how to close that gap, research priorities in under-represented groups and unfair practices in collaborative research, as well as what the challenges of building a diverse scientific workforce look like in other areas of the globe. We invite our readers to contribute content across all sections of the journal, including research papers focused on interventions to reduce health inequities.

Finally, we want to report back on our own progress toward diversity and inclusion in our pages. We are focusing our efforts on increasing the diversity of peer reviewers and authorship of contributed content for the front end of the journal. These are two areas in which we can actively engage with a more diverse universe of contributors and ensure that our peer reviewers and invited authors do reflect the entire spectrum of the journal’s global readership.

For the past 2 years, we have been asking all our peer reviewers, after completion of a review, to provide information on their geographical location, self-identified gender and career stage. We will be sharing the aggregated results on an annual basis starting with 2021, with publication in the subsequent year. This effort, together with peer-reviewer recognition — in which reviewers can choose to be named as referees of the studies we publish — will help us to offer more transparency about what our referee pool looks like. Reviewers are critical partners in our decisions of what to publish in Nature Medicine . Striving for diversity of research in our pages necessarily requires working with a far more diverse range of contributors that we currently have. We pledge to do our part, but you can also help us by naming colleagues of diverse backgrounds and career stages when we invite you to participate in peer review but you are not available to review a paper yourself.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of striving for diversity, equity and inclusion is the realization that there is no instant solution. Progress will require patience, persistence, continuous commitment and self-assessment. We are in it for the long run.

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research paper diversity and inclusion

Diversity wins: How inclusion matters

Diversity wins is the third report in a McKinsey series investigating the business case for diversity, following Why diversity matters (2015) and Delivering through diversity (2018). Our latest report shows not only that the business case remains robust but also that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time. These findings emerge from our largest data set so far, encompassing 15 countries and more than 1,000 large companies. By incorporating a “social listening” analysis of employee sentiment in online reviews, the report also provides new insights into how inclusion matters. It shows that companies should pay much greater attention to inclusion, even when they are relatively diverse.

In the COVID-19 crisis, inclusion and diversity matter more than ever

For business executives the world over, the COVID-19 pandemic  is proving to be one of the greatest leadership tests of their careers. Not only must they protect the health of their employees and customers, they must also navigate far-reaching disruption to their operations, plan for recovery, and prepare to reimagine their business models for the next normal.

In this challenging context, the task of fostering inclusion and diversity (I&D) could easily take a back seat—and the painstaking progress made by many firms in recent years could be reversed. As this report shows, however, I&D is a powerful enabler of business performance. Companies whose leaders welcome diverse talents and include multiple perspectives are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger. As the CEO of a European consumer-goods company told us: “I know we have to deal with COVID-19, but inclusion and diversity is a topic too important to put onto the back burner.”

On the other hand, some companies appear to be viewing I&D as a “luxury we cannot afford” during the crisis. We believe such companies risk tarnishing their license to operate in the long term and will lose out on opportunities to innovate their business models and strengthen their recovery.

If companies deprioritize I&D during the crisis, the impact will be felt not just on the bottom line but in people’s lives. Research and experience warn that diverse talent can be at risk during a downturn for several reasons—for example, downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on the roles typically held by diverse talent. As companies send staff home to work, this could reinforce existing exclusive behaviors and unconscious biases and undermine inclusion. In addition, inequality with regard to sharing childcare and homeschooling responsibilities, as well as the quality of home workspace (including broadband access), could put women and minorities at a disadvantage during this time of working remotely.

Companies need to seize this moment—both to protect the gains they have already made and to leverage I&D to position themselves to prosper in the future.

There is ample evidence that diverse and inclusive companies are more likely to make better, bolder decisions—a critical capability in the crisis. For example, diverse teams have been shown to be better able to radically innovate and anticipate shifts in consumer needs and consumption patterns. Moreover, the shift to technology-enabled remote working presents an opportunity for companies to accelerate building inclusive and agile cultures—further challenging existing management routines. Not least, a visible commitment to I&D during the crisis is likely to strengthen companies’ global image and license to operate.

By following the trajectories of hundreds of companies in our data set since 2014, we find that the overall slow growth in diversity often observed in fact masks a growing polarization among these organizations. While most have made little progress, are stalled or even slipping backward, some are making impressive gains in diversity, particularly in executive teams. We show that these diversity winners are adopting systematic, business-led approaches to inclusion and diversity (I&D) . And, with a special focus on inclusion, we highlight the areas where companies should take far bolder action to create a long-lasting inclusive culture and to promote inclusive behavior.

(Our research predates the outbreak of the global pandemic, but we believe these findings remain highly relevant. See the sidebar, “In the COVID-19 crisis, inclusion and diversity matter more than ever,” for more on why I&D must remain a priority even as the context shifts, or read “ Diversity still matters ” for an even deeper dive. You can also explore a related interactive  for another lens on the issues.)

A stronger business case for diversity, but slow progress overall

Our latest analysis reaffirms the strong business case for both gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership—and shows that this business case continues to strengthen. The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.

Our 2019 analysis finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014 (Exhibit 1).

Moreover, we found that the greater the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance. Companies with more than 30 percent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives, or none at all. A substantial differential likelihood of outperformance—48 percent—separates the most from the least gender-diverse companies.

In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, our business-case findings are equally compelling: in 2019, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36 percent in profitability, slightly up from 33 percent in 2017 and 35 percent in 2014. As we have previously found, the likelihood of outperformance continues to be higher for diversity in ethnicity than for gender.

Creating an inclusive environment for transgender employees

A McKinsey Live event on 'Creating an inclusive environment for transgender employees'

Women in the workplace McK Live webinar

A McKinsey Live event on 'Women in the Workplace 2021: The state of women hangs in the balance'

Yet progress, overall, has been slow. In the companies in our original 2014 data set, based in the United States and the United Kingdom, female representation on executive teams rose from 15 percent in 2014 to 20 percent in 2019. Across our global data set, for which our data starts in 2017, gender diversity moved up just one percentage point—to 15 percent, from 14—in 2019. More than a third of the companies in our data set still have no women at all on their executive teams. This lack of material progress is evident across all industries and in most countries. Similarly, the representation of ethnic-minorities on UK and US executive teams stood at only 13 percent in 2019, up from just 7 percent in 2014. For our global data set, this proportion was 14 percent in 2019, up from 12 percent in 2017 (Exhibit 2).

The widening gap between winners and laggards

While overall progress on gender and cultural representation has been slow, this is not consistent across all organizations. Our research clearly shows that there is a widening gap between I&D leaders and companies that have yet to embrace diversity. A third of the companies we analyzed have achieved real gains in top-team diversity over the five-year period. But most have made little or no progress, and some have even gone backward.

This growing polarization between high and low performers is reflected in an increased likelihood of a performance penalty. In 2019, fourth-quartile companies for gender diversity on executive teams were 19 percent more likely than companies in the other three quartiles to underperform on profitability—up from 15 percent in 2017 and 9 percent in 2015. At companies in the fourth quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity, the penalty was even steeper in 2019: they were 27 percent more likely to underperform on profitability than all other companies in our data set.

Learn more about delivering through diversity

We sought to understand how companies in our original 2014 data set have been progressing, and in doing so we identified five cohorts. These were based on their starting points and speed of progress on executive team gender representation and, separately, ethnic-minority representation (Exhibit 3). In the first two cohorts, Diversity Leaders and Fast Movers, diverse representation improved strongly over the past five years: for example, gender Fast Movers have almost quadrupled the representation of women on executive teams, to 27 percent, in 2019; for ethnicity, companies in the equivalent cohort have increased their level of diversity from just 1 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2019.

At the other end of the spectrum, the already poor diversity performance of the Laggards has declined further. In 2019, an average of 8 percent of executive team members at these companies were female—and they had no ethnic-minority representation at all. The two other cohorts are Moderate Movers, which have on average experienced a slower improvement in diversity, and Resting on Laurels, which started with higher levels of diversity than Laggards did, but have similarly become less diverse since 2014.

We also found that the average likelihood of financial outperformance in these cohorts is consistent with our findings in the quartile analysis above. For example, in 2019, companies in the Resting on Laurels cohort on average had the highest likelihood of outperformance on profitability, at almost 62 percent—likely reflecting their historically high levels of diversity on executive teams. Laggards, on the other hand, are more likely to underperform their national industry median in profitability, at 40 percent.

How inclusion matters

By analyzing surveys and company research, we explored how different approaches to I&D could have shaped the trajectories of the companies in our data set. Our work suggested two critical factors: a systematic business-led approach to I&D, and bold action on inclusion. On the former we have previously advocated for an I&D approach based on a robust business case tailored to the needs of individual companies, evidenced-based targets, and core-business leadership accountability.

To further understand how inclusion matters—and which aspects of it employees regard as significant—we conducted our first analysis of inclusion-related indicators. We conducted this outside-in using “social listening,” focusing on sentiment in employee reviews of their employers posted on US-based online platforms.

While this approach is indicative, rather than conclusive, it could provide a more candid read on inclusion than internal employee-satisfaction surveys do—and makes it possible to analyze data across dozens of companies rapidly and simultaneously. We focused on three industries with the highest levels of executive-team diversity in our data set: financial services , technology , and healthcare . In these sectors, comments directly pertaining to I&D accounted for around one-third of total comments made, suggesting that this topic is high on employees’ minds.

We analyzed comments relating to five indicators. The first two—diverse representation and leadership accountability for I&D—are evidence of a systematic approach to I&D. The other three—equality, openness, and belonging—are core components of inclusion. For several of these indicators, our findings suggest “pain points” in the experience of employees:

  • While overall sentiment on diversity was 52 percent positive and 31 percent negative, sentiment on inclusion was markedly worse, at only 29 percent positive and 61 percent negative. This encapsulates the challenge that even the more diverse companies still face in tackling inclusion (Exhibit 4). Hiring diverse talent isn’t enough—it’s the workplace experience that shapes whether people remain and thrive.
  • Opinions about leadership and accountability in I&D accounted for the highest number of mentions and were strongly negative. On average, across industries, 51 percent of the total mentions related to leadership, and 56 percent of those were negative. This finding underscores the increasingly recognized need for companies to improve their I&D engagement with core-business managers.
  • For the three indicators of inclusion—equality, openness, and belonging—we found particularly high levels of negative sentiment about equality and fairness of opportunity. Negative sentiment about equality ranged from 63 to 80 percent across the industries analyzed. The work environment’s openness, which encompasses bias and discrimination, was also a significant concern—negative sentiment across industries ranged from 38 to 56 percent. Belonging elicited overall positive sentiment, but from a relatively small number of mentions.

These findings highlight the importance not just of inclusion overall but also of specific aspects of inclusion. Even relatively diverse companies face significant challenges in creating work environments characterized by inclusive leadership and accountability among managers, equality and fairness of opportunity, and openness and freedom from bias and discrimination.

Winning through inclusion and diversity: Taking bold action

We took a close look at our data set’s more diverse companies, which as we have seen are more likely to outperform financially. The common thread for these diversity leaders is a systematic approach and bold steps to strengthen inclusion. Drawing on best practices from these companies, this report highlights five areas of action (Exhibit 5):

  • Ensure the representation of diverse talent. This is still an essential driver of inclusion. Companies should focus on advancing diverse talent into executive, management, technical, and board roles. They should ensure that a robust I&D business case designed for individual companies is well accepted and think seriously about which forms of multivariate diversity to prioritize (for example, going beyond gender and ethnicity). They also need to set the right data-driven targets for the representation of diverse talent.
  • Strengthen leadership accountability and capabilities for I&D. Companies should place their core-business leaders and managers at the heart of the I&D effort—beyond the HR function or employee resource-group leaders. In addition, they should not only strengthen the inclusive-leadership capabilities of their managers and executives but also more emphatically hold all leaders to account for progress on I&D.
  • Enable equality of opportunity through fairness and transparency. To advance toward a true meritocracy, it is critical that companies ensure a level playing field in advancement and opportunity. They should deploy analytics tools to show that promotions, pay processes, and the criteria behind them, are transparent and fair; debias these processes ; and strive to meet diversity targets in their long-term workforce plans.
  • Promote openness and tackle microaggressions. Companies should uphold a zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory behavior, such as bullying and harassment, and actively help managers and staff to identify and address microaggressions. They should also establish norms for open, welcoming behavior and ask leaders and employees to assess each other on how they are living up to that standard.
  • Foster belonging through unequivocal support for multivariate diversity. Companies should build a culture where all employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work. Managers should communicate and visibly embrace their commitment to multivariate forms of diversity, building a connection to a wide range of people and supporting employee resource groups to foster a sense of community and belonging. Companies should explicitly assess belonging in internal surveys.

For deeper insights, download Diversity wins: How inclusion matters , the full report on which this article is based (PDF–10.6MB).

Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle

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Diversity wins

Diversity still matters

  • Open access
  • Published: 04 July 2022

Improving equity, diversity, and inclusion in academia

  • Omar Dewidar   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6420-887X 1 ,
  • Nour Elmestekawy 1 , 2 &
  • Vivian Welch 1 , 3  

Research Integrity and Peer Review volume  7 , Article number:  4 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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There are growing bodies of evidence demonstrating the benefits of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) on academic and organizational excellence. In turn, some editors have stated their desire to improve the EDI of their journals and of the wider scientific community. The Royal Society of Chemistry established a minimum set of requirements aimed at improving EDI in scholarly publishing. Additionally, several resources were reported to have the potential to improve EDI, but their effectiveness and feasibility are yet to be determined. In this commentary we suggest six approaches, based on the Royal Society of Chemistry set of requirements, that journals could implement to improve EDI. They are: (1) adopt a journal EDI statement with clear, actionable steps to achieve it; (2) promote the use of inclusive and bias-free language; (3) appoint a journal’s EDI director or lead; (4) establish a EDI mentoring approach; (5) monitor adherence to EDI principles; and (6) publish reports on EDI actions and achievements. We also provide examples of journals that have implemented some of these strategies, and discuss the roles of peer reviewers, authors, researchers, academic institutes, and funders in improving EDI.

Peer Review reports

Editors, reviewers, researchers, funders, and academic institutions collectively act as gatekeepers of our disciplines. Their unique positions enable ethical publication practices and the setting of rigorous research standards. Frequently, these stakeholders are tasked with making critical judgements that can help progress our fields. In some cases, these judgements may be unintentionally biased and possibly fueled by the spread of misinformation.

The academic publication process is built on objectivity [ 1 ], gender and socio-cultural neutrality [ 2 ], and respect for human and animal rights. Hence, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are essential in publication processes, among other academic spaces. However for the purpose of this According to the Editors Association of Canada [ 3 ], equity refers to recognizing the existence of “identity-based advantages and barriers” as well as “working to correct and address this imbalance.” They also define diversity as “increasing the presence of people of diverse identities” in the editorial process and inclusion as “creating an environment where all those with diverse identities are welcomed and valued”.

Given the ‘publish or perish’ nature of academia, the role of Journals and editors in propagating the cycle of injustice in this space is amplified [ 4 ]. There is evidence for a higher rejection rate of papers from traditionally under-represented groups [ 4 , 5 ]. These decisions can heavily impact such individuals, resulting in poorer career progression due to fewer publications and a lower chance of promotional opportunities. The obstruction of career progression contributes to the lack of representation of certain groups in positions of power and leadership: particularly women, individuals living in low-middle income countries and racialized people [ 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ]. For example, in oncology research, Caucasian men hold over 70% of editorial leadership positions [ 6 ]. Similar findings were shown in a survey of editors of the Association of College & Research Libraries [ 7 ], and Wiley publishing [ 13 ]. Furthermore, in communication journals, editorial board members from the United States are more than all other world regions pooled together [ 14 ]. It has been hypothesized that overrepresented groups may have implicit biases that stem from historical institutionalized discrimination against individuals from under-represented groups [ 15 , 16 ]. However, the evidence is conflicting. Witteman and colleagues [ 17 ] demonstrated that when controlling for age and domain of research, a gender bias exists in peer review processes that are judging the calibre of the investigator: there is a 4% lower success rate for women. Yet, a more recent large analysis of 145 journals found that the bias is non-existent [ 18 ]. In fact, women led, and co-authored articles were favoured by referees and editors [ 18 ]. Nonetheless, some studies have demonstrated that implicit bias training may lead to modifying behavior [ 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 ]. Thus, EDI training and other resources, such as unconscious bias [ 23 , 24 ] and indigenous cultural competency training [ 25 , 26 ], should be easily accessible and completed by the editorial teams and authors alike.

Realizing that biases exist in scholarly publishing, The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) established a joint commitment to action on EDI in scholarly publishing. In collaboration with signed partners, they formulated the following six minimum standards for inclusion and diversity in academic publishing: (1) integrate inclusion and diversity in the publishing activities and strategic planning; (2) work on understanding the demographic diversity of individuals at all levels of their publishing process; (3) acknowledge and address the barriers experienced by those who are under-represented among them; (4) define and clearly communicate diversity and inclusion responsibilities at all levels of the publishing process; (5) revise the appointment process for editors and editorial boards as needed, to widen the scope of the captured talent; (6) publicly report diversity and inclusion progress at least once a year [ 27 ]. To date, 52 publishing organizations have committed to this initiative [ 27 ].

It may be argued that editors should not be obliged to ensure that their reviewer pool is geographically distributed, and that their only concern should be recruiting reviewers who are experts of the manuscript content under consideration. However, the lack of diversity in the peer reviewer can make finding reviewers harder [ 28 ]. In addition, there are many benefits to promoting diversity in the publishing processes for the scientific community. Ensuring the representation of individuals from underrepresented populations could facilitate meaningful career growth for these individuals and increase the depth of the content published in the journal. An environment of innovation and creativity could be fostered through the presence of a greater variety of problem-solving approaches [ 4 , 29 ]. Better performance, predictions, and overall results could emerge as problem-solving improves in the presence of a diverse team [ 30 ]. It was found that a significant increase in the citation of articles occurred when the authors who wrote them were of different ethnicities and nationalities [ 30 ]. Additionally, there was an association between the 5-year citation count of published papers and the diversity of people who authored them — ethnic diversity in particular [ 31 ]. For example, when a mandate was instituted in Japan by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to ensure 50% of all researchers were from other than Japan, the institute saw an increase in academic ranking based on their research output [ 32 ].

Although commitments are in place to improve EDI in journals and publishing [ 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 ], the effectiveness of these approaches are yet to be determined. We also acknowledge that editor of this journal shared concerns for practical approaches to improving EDI in peer review and journal practices [ 38 ]. In this commentary, we provide practical approaches for editors and journal publishers to improve EDI in academic journals based on the six minimum standards set by the RSC. In Table 1 we also provide examples of journals that implemented some of these strategies. Finally, EDI issues in academia are tightly intertwined with systemic oppression that is integrated in policies and regulations of academic progression. Thus, both a bottom-up and top-down approach are needed to induce change. Subsequently, we reflect on the role of reviewers, researchers, academic institutions, and funding agencies in shaping the academic ecosystem. Figure 1 presents how these stakeholders contribute to fostering a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive academic community.

figure 1

Key model for improving equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) of journals. This figure was generated by the authors using Canva ( https://www.canva.com/ )

The role of journals

Given that the impact of journal policies on compliance to mandates has been demonstrated in several areas, such as clinical trial registration and reporting guidelines [ 45 , 46 , 47 ], editors and publishers should articulate a framework that influences the incorporation of EDI. We propose below six approaches that align with the six RSC recommendations for improving EDI in academic publishing.

Adopt a journal diversity statement with clear, actionable steps to achieve it

Increasing diversity and inclusion in scientific publishing enhances excellence and innovation. Adopting a journal diversity statement, with clear, actionable steps to achieve it, is a practical first step for defining the problem and establishing accountability [ 37 ]. Explicitly defining the problem helps ensure that everyone shares the same understanding of it. Moreover, this process engages senior leadership to support EDI principles, making it clear to authors, reviewers, and editors that change is a priority. Several reports show that these recognition schemes provide an impetus for action on EDI which translates to more inclusive environments [ 48 ]. More than 47 publishing organizations have adopted recognition schemes [ 49 ]. Wiley publishing has developed guidance for assisting editors in developing an EDI statement [ 50 ]. The process involves the following three steps: (1) assessing the journal and research community’s needs, (2) identifying action priorities for the journal (I.e., changes in recruitment process, improving the diversity of invited reviewers), and (3) developing an active statement that acknowledges that this process is an ongoing one that will require revisiting on a regular basis to answer unknown questions.

Promote the use of inclusive and bias-free language

Avoiding the perpetuation of prejudicial beliefs or demeaning attitudes in publishing activities may improve the recruitment of populations experiencing disadvantages. In turn, the journal should promote the use of inclusive and bias-free language in all correspondence and the journal website content [ 51 ]. With changes in language over time, editors should address individuals and or communities as they prefer to describe themselves, their experiences, and practices. For example, a notable addition to the 7 th edition of the America Psychological Association is the recommendation to use the singular “they” to refer to individuals when the identified pronouns are unknown or hypothetical person is irrelevant within the context [ 37 ]. The University of Nottingham reported improvements in the recruitment of female researchers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) when the language of advertised fellowships was checked for gender inclusivity among schemes [ 48 , 52 , 53 ].

Appoint a journal’s equity, diversity and inclusion director or lead

When leaders use the power associated with their positions to advocate for EDI this may help support others to eradicate prejudice and discrimination. Editors in chief should prefer to include scholars with underrepresented backgrounds and EDI expertise to lead in EDI advocacy roles. They could, albeit less preferable, nominate one of their associate editors who has an underrepresented background or recruit an individual with expertise on EDI who does not have an underrepresented background. It would be wise to create a consultation committee for the EDI lead composed of underrepresented academics, EDI leaders, and members of the public with unique, lived experiences. The perspectives of underrepresented individuals could be crucial for the team’s success as it would help produce more culturally competent and practical solutions. The responsibilities of the lead could include reviewing journal processes while working with the Editors in chief, raising awareness of unconscious bias among the editorial teams and implementing initiatives that could improve EDI. The lead should also be responsible for developing strategies that would diversify the editorial teams, peer reviewers and authorship as well as monitor the journal’s progress in achieving EDI. The individual or team leading this appointment should review the journal’s recruitment sources and how the journal linguistically composes invitations to join the editorial teams. Of note, experience in the field of EDI and understanding of EDI principles alone are insufficient to achieve these goals. Leaders aiming to take on this role should be creative in developing strategies that align with the journal’s aims and resources.

Establish a mentoring approach

There is plenty of evidence showing that members of certain populations are underrepresented in editorial roles. This impedes their ability to receive adequate experience to take on leadership positions. The process of finding editorial board members in all disciplines is challenging as is therefore recruiting editors with diverse backgrounds, gender identities, ethnicities and geographical locations would likely prove to be more challenging. However, a diverse and representative team may be more likely to display increased cultural competency based on their more diverse set of lived experiences. Efforts to recruit a representative team should be in place, and deficiencies in diversity should be explicitly acknowledged as a work in progress. Furthermore, all editorial positions should be time limited as any permanent position of power is prone to propagating disparities.

Journals can post open calls for reviewer positions rather than solely depending on personal networks to improve the diversity of their reviewer pool. These advertisements should be checked for inclusivity of their wording as well as the locations of their posting. It should be noted that the use of algorithms or artificial intelligence (AI) to identify reviewers, reinforces negative cycle of bias against researchers in low-middle income countries and marginalized populations [ 54 ]. Therefore, if AI is used, editors should monitor for potential biases, assess, and mitigate them. In addition, journal editors may encourage authors to recommend reviewers from under-represented backgrounds. Populations carrying the greatest burden of health inequities need a stronger voice in the planning and implementation of their health care and the systems meant to support it, yet for the most part, remain excluded from decision-making processes [ 55 , 56 ]. Therefore, when inviting reviewers, it may be beneficial to invite reviewers familiar with the article’s content. Knowledge of the author’s name, institution, professional status, or geographical location may result in unconscious bias and abstract the objectivity of the peer review process. To help minimize unconscious bias, journal editors should consider a double anonymized peer review policy where the peer reviewers are not aware of the manuscript's authors and vice versa [ 37 ].

When candidates for journal positions lack experience, establishing a mentoring approach may be a pragmatic approach to preparing them for the role in the future. Senior members of the editorial teams could team up with more junior members and tailor the mentoring according to their needs. Since mentors are highly likely to come from non-underrepresented groups, mentors should receive unconscious bias training or other EDI training as necessary (i.e microaggressions, anti-racism) before engaging in mentorship activities. Given that most editorial positions are voluntary, mentoring activities need to be encouraged and acknowledged to support their work. Mentors could be rewarded by compensating them for their time or establishing internal awards for mentor excellence that may help in promotions and tenures. The uptake of these strategies by several journals may help establish a community of mentors that could be drawn on for mentorship activities. Undergoing training in research integrity may help prepare them for their roles by engaging with their mentees meaningfully and creating a supportive environment. VIRT2UE Train the trainee program is intended for individuals interested in becoming trainers in research integrity. The program focuses on developing behaviours of high moral standards related to the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and applying them to specific cases and dilemmas.

Monitor adherence to equity, diversity and inclusion principles

To identify gaps in diversity, meaningful and accurate data collection on the composition of editors, peer reviewers and authors is required. Journal editors need to systematically collect demographic data to accurately assess journal progress and tailor their goals accordingly. A standard list of questions should be presented to the research community where they can voluntarily provide self-identification data such as career stage, gender, race & ethnicity, and geographical location of the journal community [ 57 ]. As a first step, journals can use the eight identification categories proposed in the questionnaire distributed by the Employment Equity Act and adjust as appropriate. Alternatively, journals may employ external services, such as TOP factor [ 58 ], to monitor journal metrics in implementing EDI principles. Empirical approaches are also needed to determine the effectiveness of the approaches used to improve EDI in academic settings. The UK Research and Innovation summarized interventions, frameworks and outcomes measured to quantitatively monitor changes in EDI interventions. They note the lack of experimental approaches to assess EDI interventions and small sample sizes. Thus, researchers should investigate rigorous approaches to investigate the effectiveness of EDI interventions.

Publish reports on equity, diversity and inclusion

To hold journals accountable for their progress, journals and publishers should make their data on diversity available to the public. Therefore, journals should ensure that they acquire informed consent from participants when collecting their self-identifiable. Their data should be treated with the utmost sensitivity and stored with great care. Although we are not aware of the most appropriate approach to store data, there are ten established rules for storing digital data that journals may apply to safeguard sensitive information [ 59 ]. Journals should only present the data in an aggregated form to ensure the confidentiality of participants.

The role of peer reviewers

Reviewers and journal editors must consider that the author’s first language might not be English. Thus, they must be understanding and try to base their decision on the quality of research rather than the language. If significant language corrections are needed, we suggest directing them to a language service such as SAGE Author Services or Language Editor Services by ElSEVIER and subsequently invite them to resubmit once their manuscript is reviewed. Adjustment may be needed for authors with disabilities or neurodiverse conditions, and peer reviewers should support them accordingly. They may offer them additional feedback, extra time for revisions or arrange a call to discuss feedback.

The role of researchers

The impact of marginalization on the health of marginalized groups is well established [ 60 ]. However, their perspectives are yet to be adequately reflected in evidence bases [ 55 ]. The absence of regularly collected data on outcomes and experiences of under-represented populations limits the relevance of available primary evidence informing evidence-based practice. Populations experiencing inequities need a stronger voice in the planning and the implementation of health care services as well as the systems designed to support them. For this reason, they should be involved in decision-making processes [ 55 , 56 ]. Greater involvement of stakeholders in evidence syntheses can support greater inclusion of social and organizational factors that may influence interventions and review findings [ 61 ]. Furthermore, Incorporating EDI in research ensures that pre-conceived beliefs and eco-chamber societies are likely avoided, minimizing confirmation bias and increasing the credibility of research findings [ 62 ]. An example of this is The New England Journal of Medicine which requires authors to provide the representativeness of the study group in a table as a Supplementary Appendix [ 63 ]. They also require authors to appropriately report on the representativeness of the patients included in the study and assess the generalizability of the research findings to populations at risk of experiencing inequities.

Reporting guidelines may improve the reporting of research and should be used by researchers [ 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 ]. Although guidelines such as the SAGER guidelines have recommended sex-specific analyses to obtain more equitable evidence [ 68 ], and several funders have mandated their analyses, such mandates may be insufficient to change reporting practices [ 69 ]. Researchers must demonstrate their commitment to improving equity in research by adhering to equity reporting guidelines such as the extensions of the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) [ 70 ] and PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) [ 71 ] more work is needed to assess their impact on reporting.

The role of universities and academic institutions

Students from under-represented groups face several barriers to success when engaging with academia’s traditional measures and systems of evaluation [ 4 , 30 , 72 , 73 ]. A study conducted by Heller and colleagues found that as the GPA score requirements increased in medical schools, in the United States from 2005 to 2009, the diversity of the classes decreased [ 74 ]. This suggests that evaluations heavily based on academic metrics often come at the expense of EDI. Thus, establishing a different definition of student academic excellence may help improve EDI in academic institutions.

Several approaches have succeeded in improving diversity among trainees and early-career researchers [ 75 , 76 ]. However, differential recruitment, retention, and promotion rates across several factors such as age, sex and race are yet to be improved [ 77 , 78 , 79 , 80 ]. This may be partly due to the narrow focus on citation metrics and publications for the evaluation of these processes [ 30 , 81 , 82 ]. Institutions should award strong mentorship that involve the support of marginalized groups and include tenure or promotion assessments in recruitment. These awards include the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence for Science Math and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), the Australian Museum Eureka Award, and the Nature Research Awards for Mentoring in Science. Expanding the measures of success to include non-academic metrics would enhance the selection of diverse candidates and set the stage for a diverse, new generation of researchers.

Furthermore, academic course coordinators should consider teaching the curriculum from an EDI perspective by diversifying the reading material of courses as well as the research used to compose the learning material [ 4 ]. Emphasizing diversity in the educational curriculum fosters the inclusion of diverse students, staff, and relevant topics and better engages underrepresented groups through a curriculum that reflects their lived experiences.

The role of funding agencies

Several funding agencies, such as NIH [ 83 ] and CIHR [ 84 ] have acknowledged the importance of equity research. This is integral for improving academia as research funding is indispensable in an academic’s career. Including diversity factors as a scorable criterion may improve research since several studies have shown that diverse teams produce more innovative, creative, and impactful science [ 81 , 85 , 86 ]. Funding agencies could also create grants dedicated to underrepresented scholars to allow more opportunities for them and potentially eliminate the funding disparity in research. Examples include the Mental Health Dissertation Research Grant to Increase Diversity funded by the National Institute of Health [ 87 ] and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) funded by the National Science Foundation [ 88 ]. Funding agencies could also consider instituting a minimum number of scholars from underrepresented populations as reviewers on funding panels [ 81 ]. We acknowledge that this may introduce a “diversity tax” where a burden may be placed on marginalized scholars. However, it is essential to note that the “diversity tax” becomes problematic when the positions and work done are not career enhancing. There needs to be more work on incentivising leadership positions for representatives of marginalized populations in terms of academic value and career progression.

Conclusions

Journal editors cannot change the culture of academic societies alone since they are constrained by a broader system. Therefore, we advocate for consolidated action for improving EDI by using a systems approach that involves journal publishers, researchers, academic institutions, and funders. We acknowledge the lack of studies that show the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving EDI. However, we believe that journals adhering to the minimum standards set by RSC and following the guidance suggested in this paper may help journals obtain data that can help monitor their EDI progress. In writing this commentary, we reviewed it for inclusivity and bias-free language. We urge journal editors to develop evaluation plans to measure the effects of EDI interventions in improving the editorial culture using innovative methodological approaches.

Availability of data and materials

No data was reported in this article.

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We would like to thank Dr Mario Malički, the editor in chief for guiding this commentary with his critical review and thought provoking questions. We would like to thank the research community for supporting the integration of equity, diversity, and inclusion principles in editorial and peer review processes.

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Dewidar, O., Elmestekawy, N. & Welch, V. Improving equity, diversity, and inclusion in academia. Res Integr Peer Rev 7 , 4 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-022-00123-z

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A Discussion of Diversity and Inclusivity at the Institutional Level: The Need for a Strategic Plan

Veronica g. martinez-acosta.

1 Biology Department, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX 78209

Carlita B. Favero

2 Biology Department, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA 19426

A wider discussion is taking place nationally regarding how universities can make ‘real’ change in the old way of academic business. These changes include a hard look at the inclusive nature of the institutional environment as a whole. Lack of diversity is most noticeable within higher administrative levels of universities across the country. We have now reached a point where true reflection and assessment of inclusive practices on our campuses must be carried out so that we fully serve the needs of all of our students. In this breakout session participants will share best practices currently in place or strategic planning at your institutions, which not only promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom but describe strategies for institutional buy-in at all levels and provide examples of accountability measures that further promote diversity and inclusion at higher administrative levels.

Overview of the Problem

“Research has shown that diverse groups are more effective at problem solving than homogeneous groups, and policies that promote diversity and inclusion will enhance our ability to draw from the broadest possible pool of talent, solve our toughest challenges, maximize employee engagement and innovation, and lead by example by setting a high standard for providing access to opportunity to all segments of our society.” - President Obama, October 5, 2016

More than 40 years of diversity initiatives have resulted in a notable increase in the number of underrepresented minority students attending colleges and universities across the nation ( Li, 2007 ; Snyder et al., 2016 ; McFarland et al., 2017 ). According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, from 1995–2015, the number of African American college students rose from 27.5 to 35 percent and the number of Hispanic students rose from 21 to 37 percent ( Snyder et al., 2016 ; Fig. 1 ). While this increase in diversity at the student level is commendable, the completion rates among different racial and ethnic groups differs by as much as 20 percentage points, with African American males lagging behind all groups compared ( Shapiro et al., 2017 ; Fig. 2 ). Still more striking is the representation of diversity in STEM majors. Of the URM students entering as first-time college students, 33% are interested in STEM fields ( Kena et al., 2015 ), again highlighting the success of previous diversity initiatives whose focus was to increase the number of diverse individuals with undergraduate degrees. Despite these efforts, several challenges remain, the most concerning is the dramatic drop in the number of URMs who go on to pursue graduate degrees, especially in STEM fields ( Kena et al., 2015 ; Snyder et al., 2016 ; McFarland et al., 2017 ; NSF 17-306, 2017 ). Initial attempts at characterizing the cause of these losses suggested that the URM student perhaps was not equipped or was poorly prepared for graduate or professional work ( Treisman, 1992 ; Schuman et al., 1997 ). Thus, began renewed efforts to support the URM student with programs which focused on ‘fixing’ the student so that they might be retained and ultimately successful ( Anaya and Cole, 2001 ; NIH 2007 ; Hurtado et al., 2009 ). The characterization of the URM student as lacking persistence or needing to be coached on resilience, did not make sense given the fact that many of these students have already overcome significant challenges to access higher education ( Hurtado et al., 2009 ; Byars-Winston et al., 2016 ). The alternative hypothesis then would be one that instead questions the environment of academia. The main question being, have we truly made efforts to become more inclusive of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds so that we capitalize on the natural resilience of the URM student by acknowledging and celebrating that they have already achieved so much, and now we will provide the service that they need to be ultimately successful in their chosen careers.

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Total college enrollment rates of 18–24-year-olds in degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity: 1990–2015. SOURCE: U. S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990–2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016. Table 302.60.

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Overall college completion rates based on Race, Ethnicity, and Gender. A larger proportion of black students (44.6%) were not enrolled at the end of the study period (had no degree or certificate and no enrollment record in the sixth year), compared to Hispanic (35.0%), white (26.9%), and Asian (20% students. In terms of gender differences, female students graduated at higher rates than male students and were less likely to drop out, regardless of race and ethnicity ( Tate, 2017 ).

The 2017 Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) workshop at Dominican University focused on inclusivity in training and teaching the next generation of neuroscientists. The workshop brought together faculty, administrators, and program directors to discuss diversity and inclusion, particularly in the Neurosciences and other STEM fields. These discussions started first by defining the terms diversity and inclusion. Diversity describes a quantifiable measure of individuals ( Williams et al., 2005 ; Puritty et al., 2017 ; Fradella, 2018 ,), such as the number of left-handed individuals in a group or the demographics of the undergraduate student population. Inclusivity, on the other hand, is not quantifiable. It is a feeling. It is a belief that one’s experiences and training are respected by those around you and that your participation provides unique perspectives that help create better solutions ( Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Clark et al., 2016 ; Fradella, 2018 ). Thus, while we have seen increased diversity in our campus populations, it is evident from Figure 2 that inclusion is not a given. To be truly inclusive the institutional environment must change to encourage diverse populations to thrive and to promote a sense of belonging ( Williams et al.,2005 ; Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Hurtado et al., 2017 ; Puritty et al., 2017 ). True institutional reform will involve buy-in at ALL levels. In this paper, we are not suggesting a prescription, as every institution is unique in the challenges they hold. We instead highlight suggestions and best practices that address inclusivity at the institutional level, which are the most promising of change. Our hope is that university leaders reading this article find tools that can be implemented across the institution and that collectively we move beyond the discussion-level of diversity and inclusion to a place where we are actively changing the landscape.

Importance of leadership’s role in changing the institutional environment

Strategies that promote inclusivity must happen at all levels of the academic ecosystem ( Fig. 3 ) – student; faculty; alumni; and staff, particularly administrative levels. Each component of the academic ecosystem must be engaged in the larger discussion on diversity and inclusion, with cross communication between them. To be most effective, the selection process for each member of the ecosystem also necessitates inclusion. When a student or an employee is selected from a pool of applicants, each has been through a lengthy evaluation process, culminating with the institution making a commitment to them as members of the institutional family. Thus, a strong message of support must be sent from the highest levels of administrative leadership that both diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the institution’s mission or strategic plan. Some examples of how the university can demonstrate support for these initiatives include proactively seeking support for students, faculty or staff before they arrive on campus. At the student level, the support needed would be informed by communication from admissions, enrollment, and/or financial aid about specific incoming challenges faced by the student cohort. The prospective employee can engage with the Diversity/Inclusion Office during the interview process to bring up any questions related to culture and environment at the institution and surrounding area. Upon hire, employees should be informed about the ombudsman process via Human Resources or the Diversity and Inclusion office in case problems arise with the department, administrators, or students. Advocating for diversity and inclusion beginning at the student or faculty level will not be supported if there isn’t backing by the administration that this initiative is essential to the positive growth of the institution. Many universities that have traditionally struggled with diversity, now have chartered diversity and inclusion strategic plans or mission statements, including Pomona College; Princeton University; Davidson College; Texas A&M University, to name a few. These types of discussions can be met with fear but starting with low-risk activities like the development of a task force on diversity and inclusion or having a community forum can help begin the conversation in a non-threatening way ( Takayama et al., 2017 ; personal communication R. Burks – Southwestern University). Perhaps key to these first discussions is the acknowledgement that diversity and inclusion bring together perspectives of multiple experiences that in the end help come to a better solution. Many of our chosen fields of study, especially in STEM, thrive on the perspectives of diverse individuals ( Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Puritty et al., 2017 ; Fradella, 2018 ). Administrators must also acknowledge elements of the status quo that need to change in order to gain faculty and student trust. If faculty believe that their opinion and the opinion of others is valued by the institution and bring value to the process, the walls that were once raised against change will be removed. Many universities have also incorporated a new leadership position, the Chief Diversity Officer, as a part of the administrative team. While some may suggest that the hiring of a diversity officer may take away from the responsibility of the institution President to lead the charge on providing a more diverse academic climate ( Frum, 2016 ), a diversity officer may serve as a measure of accountability. Administrators can hire trained facilitators and engage faculty whose scholarly work is in this area to lead departmental diversity and inclusion focus groups where data can be shared and discussed that demonstrates that while we’ve made progress providing access to more diverse individuals to higher learning, they are not retained far beyond the master’s level of learning ( Kena et al., 2015 ; Sowell, 2015 ; NSF 2017 ). In a department this discussion might result in the setting of goals that prioritize a holistic approach to working with students so that they are retained and not simply focusing on the student as the problem ( Clark et al., 2016 ; Maton et al., 2016 ).

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The academic ecosystem is comprised of administrators, staff, faculty, students, and external partners. In order to promote diversity and inclusion, all members within each component of the academic ecosystem must communicate. These conversations should be constant, dynamic, and will likely involve multiple components simultaneously.

The goal of increased diversity is not enough

What is your mission? Are you accomplishing what you have stated as your guiding principles? Most universities have as a part of their mission statement “to provide an environment that inspires learning from all perspectives.” How diverse are your classrooms and faculty? Do the administrators, students, staff, and faculty exhibit a variety of backgrounds and experiences? Do you know what these experiences are? Is there equity in perspectives or is a sole viewpoint represented? What students participate in high impact experiences such as summer research and study abroad? The answer to these questions provides important guidance as an institution begins the journey to provide more inclusive environments. These questions provide an initial climate assessment that focuses on the psychosocial, environmental, and emotional, instead of focusing solely on retention (aka the numbers). Assessment begins with the institutional community coming together to ask hard questions regarding environment. This level of assessment necessitates open dialogue about race, cultural competency, and bias – both implicit and explicit ( Williams et al., 2005 ; Diaz and Kirmmse, 2013 ; Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Stanley, 2016 ; McFarland et al., 2017 ). Assessment must not only be internal (i.e., listening to the voices within the institution), but also external. If we only listen to the voices of our siloed and sometimes shortsighted communities, we may miss something because we are used to the status quo and may not be aware of what equity looks like. Universities have increased access to education for all people, as measured by the steady rise in the number of URM students on campuses, but this is not enough. We have effectively supplied the keys to the castle without acknowledging that the castle has a history and infrastructure that prohibits all who enter from thriving equally. Diversity in a non-inclusive environment is not authentic and will fade. To prevent this, administrators and departments could start by setting goals with specific outcomes that demonstrate diversity and inclusion is a priority and provide mentorship to faculty, staff, and students on how to develop a more inclusive environment. Recently, Wake Forest College asked each department to develop a diversity and equity action plan that was unique to its discipline, students, faculty, staff, alumni, curriculum and programs. These plans include an analysis of department-specific opportunities and challenges, metrics to measure success of the plan, and are revisited annually ( Undergraduate College, (n.d.) ; Office of Diversity and Inclusion Wake Forest Univ., 2015 ). Equally important are the goals set by the institution with a strategic plan/institutional forecast that has as a core value to develop diversity and inclusion initiatives campus-wide.

We must talk about race

We must acknowledge that we all struggle with biases. Thus, to truly change the environment of academia, we must acknowledge that it has existed for many years predominantly as a culture of white men who came from privilege ( Schuman et al., 1997 ; Williams et al., 2005 ; Whittaker et al., 2015 ; Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Puritty et al., 2017 ). With the number of diverse individuals attending college now, we must offer an environment that is culturally relevant; an environment that is better at listening across cultures. We must offer an environment that acknowledges differences, values them, and as a result, seeks relationships with individuals that have lived different experiences than their own ( Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ). The recruitment and retention of diverse students; faculty; administration; and staff depends on the academic community accepting and respecting everyone’s experiences ( Whittaker et al., 2015 ; Fradella, 2018 ; Stanley, 2016 ; U. S. Department of Education, 2016 ). It is a social imperative to host these discussions. These discussions should not be siloed to single departments, such as Anthropology and Sociology, but should be campus-wide. The administration can institute an annual retreat or on-campus conference where faculty and staff can examine diversity and inclusivity at the institution, reflect on the strategic plan to celebrate accomplishments and identify growth edges and persistent barriers, and make an action plan for the coming year. Administrators can also encourage departments to examine their curriculum and extracurricular activities. Funds can be earmarked for a campus-wide seminar series or a single high profile annual speaker addressing diversity and inclusivity. Likewise, the administrators can emphasize diversity and inclusivity as a value in discussions of teaching and learning that occur in faculty development arenas. As another example, STEM departments can talk about minority health disparities in clinical care and celebrate contributions from a variety of individuals to our current understanding in the field. A simple exercise in examining how diverse our seminar speakers are can be illuminating. Are we always inviting a single perspective as the authority on a topic? Do our invited speakers think about and acknowledge the inherent bias in their work? This is particularly important for those tackling research questions that are relevant to the biomedical sciences, where ignoring a variable like race might have dire consequences. We are no longer one note, we are instead, a collection of many notes that when recognized bring a perspective that raise the resolution of our understanding. Change is hard but not if it is a concerted effort. How can we then encourage change as a whole and take away the stigma of individual biases? Some suggestions for how to have these important discussions include hosting faculty retreats that have as their focus a very carefully lead discussion on implicit bias and microaggressions, so that we create an environment where biases are at the very least acknowledged ( Robinson et al., 2016 ; Lucey et al., 2017 ). These conversations should not be entered into lightly. The institution should invest in facilitators that are trained to engage groups in an effective discussion of these topics (e.g., AACLU, PKAL, SACNAS, etc.), and a location that is free from territorial tension (i.e., not on campus). It is in this safe space that true dialogue can be had which ultimately demonstrates the benefits of having diverse perspectives at the table ( Williams et al., 2005 ; Whittaker et al., 2015 ; Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Hurtado et al., 2017 ).

Curricular changes

While the scope of this article will not include changes that individual faculty can make in their courses, the curricular level is one of the more approachable levels at the institution in which inclusivity can first be addressed. Overall, discussions regarding curriculum often make assumptions about what students know ( Treisman, 1992 ; Anaya and Cole, 2001 ; Robinson et al., 2016 ). Perhaps to address inclusion at the institution, one might ask the faculty to take a step back and reevaluate the assumptions being made regarding the student population and how a simple adjustment in how we perceive the student, may inspire a more inclusive environment ( Anaya and Cole, 2001 ; Robinson et al., 2016 ; Gooblar, 2017 ). With so few URM students in our midst, we should know them by name and form genuine relationships so that we can serve as their advocates and promote a holistic approach to their education. For example, if a student is an athlete, faculty and coaches can communicate schedules at the beginning of the semester so that both sides are aware when there are busy times in their respective areas (e.g., first exam, away game or tournament). Likewise, financial aid and admission officers know potential challenges that these students may face (e.g., needing to work during the academic year) and can share this information with faculty ( Boland et al., 2017 ). Administrators can help by making structures that support student success. For example, using work study jobs to support student research in the laboratory so that students are working toward their future career path rather than spending hours as a cafeteria worker. Furthermore, many introductory courses that host large numbers of first year/sophomore students starting out in STEM majors are designed as “weed out” courses ( Tyson and Spalding, 2010 ; National Academy of Science, 2011 ). Could we instead have different entry points into the program that would foster success instead of “weeding out”? For example, do Biology and Chemistry have to be taken together in the first year for the student to graduate with a particular STEM degree or to be able to progress to a certain scientific career upon graduation? Can a structure be created where money is made available for students that demonstrate high academic achievement in the first year to take Chemistry in the summer so that they stay on track? Or can the end goal still be accomplished if a student waits until sophomore year to start Chemistry? Smaller class sizes, fostering creativity and intellectual curiosity in the classroom rather than marching through a textbook, creating more opportunities for student collaborations are all ways to achieve these goals and are particularly effective for URM students ( Hurtado et al., 2009 ; Graham et al., 2013 ). While there are many strategies that individual faculty can use to improve the inclusive environment of the classroom ( Haak et al., 2011 ; Tanner, 2013 ; Gooblar, 2018 ; Supiano, 2018 ;), it is important for administrators and departments to reflect on how programs are structured and if the sequence of classes and assessments would possibly exclude a population of student from being successful or if the sequence of classes and pre-requisites makes strong assumptions that ignore the challenges faced by underrepresented groups. Administrators should encourage and support relationships between STEM departments and the Office of Institutional Research to determine trends in high enrollment introductory level science courses, correlating academic performance to student demographics (e.g., race, gender, first generation and socioeconomic status, high school performance, etc.) so that they can develop multiple tracts through the major.

New approaches to the hiring and promotion process

While diversity of the student population has been raised at the institution, diversity is not sustained at the faculty level ( Fig. 4 ; Kena et al., 2015 ) and is almost non-existent at the administrative level. In fall 2015, of all full-time faculty at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, 77 percent were white, 10 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, 6 percent were Black, and 4 percent were Hispanic. American Indian/Alaska native individuals or individuals of two or more races made up 1 percent or less of the full-time faculty. Thus, to address diversity and inclusion at the institutional level, it will be important to address the dearth of URM faculty and administrators at the institution. External partners of the institution such as alumni and trustees should champion diversity and inclusion initiatives across campus, especially those that affect the hiring and promotion processes. It is in the institutions’ best interest for these outside agencies to reflect the diverse voices they wish to elevate via representation within these groups. To enhance and encourage diversification of the applicant pool, position advertisements can include an explicit statement of the institution’s goal of hiring and sustaining a diverse work force that fosters an inclusive environment for learning across cultures ( Johnson, 2016 ; Fradella, 2018 ).

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Percentage distribution of full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by academic rank, race/ethnicity, and sex. ( Kena et al., 2015 ).

Administrations and departments interested in encouraging diverse populations to apply can reach out to Diversity Training Programs like BRAINS (Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience), SPINES (Summer Program in Neuroscience, Excellence, and Success), SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of the Chicano and Native American Scientists), NHSN (National Hispanic Science Network), or SREB (Southern Regional Education Board). These national training programs provide support for the underrepresented faculty member as they enter the academic workforce and thus are an invaluable resource for search committees ( Margherio et al., 2016 ). Hiring guidelines will also likely require revision. Many universities have become more conscientious about the make-up of the hiring committee, putting together a diverse set of cultural and gender perspectives at the table ( Williams et al., 2005 ; Whittaker et al., 2015 ; Johnson, 2016 ; Fradella, 2018 ). Moreover, an administrator or diversity officer can serve as a committee member who is trained to be more aware of biases that arise during the hiring process and thus work to minimize them so that the best candidates are invited to campus or that a meritable candidate was not overlooked ( Frum, 2016 ; Fradella, 2018 ).

Administrators can urge departments to develop and use a hiring rubric before the position is released for advertisement so that there is collective agreement on what the committee should judge as criteria for a candidate that makes it to an on-campus interview ( Fradella, 2018 ). These rubrics work best when they also include a criterion for judgement of an inclusivity statement that is provided by the candidate as a part of the application package ( Fig. 5 ; shared by J. King, 2018). Inclusivity statements as a part of the application or as a part of the interview process highlight the institutional commitment to providing an inclusive environment that fosters diverse perspectives ( Utz, 2017 ; Fradella, 2018 ). These statements are becoming more standard as a component of the hiring process thus, it has also been suggested that training on diversity and inclusion begin at the graduate or post-doctoral level so that job candidates understand that inclusion is as essential to a successful job candidate as is their research or teaching philosophy. Universities that have significantly addressed diversity and inclusion on their campuses, have also benefited from the voice of students, at the junior or senior level, who have served as a part of the hiring committee to provide input especially regarding the candidate’s ability to convey their level of comfort in creating and supporting an inclusive environment. Overall, these hiring strategies provide mechanisms universities may use to help address the need for building a more diverse faculty. It is also important to remember that diverse faculty must then be retained ( Whittaker et al., 2015 ) and mentored to promotion, leadership, and administration. The wider discussion of inclusive excellence across the academy is one that suggests the need to change the landscape; to change the status-quo ( Asia and Bauerle, 2016 ). We began our own discussion with data to suggest that although the number of diverse faculty (i.e., diversity) has increased, it is still not a true reflection of the diversity we see in society. When we look beyond assistant professor level, the percentage of underrepresented minorities that are retained through Full Professor drops dramatically ( Fig. 4 ; Kena et al., 2015 ). The natural questions that arise, are “why then are diverse faculty not retained? And why are those that remain not seen in administrative positions?” (i.e., what are the barriers to progress?). One can imagine an approach to address these questions may be no different than how we address the needs of our plants. At a recent university discussion on diversity, Dr. Beronda Montgomery presented an analogy with how we care for our plants ( Montgomery, 2017 ). If the plant does not fare well, our immediate reaction is to question the environment – is the soil pH appropriate? has too much or too little water been given for it to grow? are the proper nutrients available in the soil or are supplements needed? It is not typical to assume that anything is wrong with the plant itself, yet this has been the assumption made regarding the retention of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff within the institution ( Montgomery, 2017 ). If we are to make genuine change within the traditional culture of the academy, then we must shift the blame of preparedness from the individual to the institution and approach as we do our plant-life, begin by assessing the environment, looking for clues that may offer suggestions for change ( Williams et al., 2005 ; Whittaker et al., 2015 ; Stanley, 2016 ; Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Montgomery, 2017 Puritty et al., 2017 ; Fradella, 2018 ).

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Example rubric for hiring committee use.

Measure your progress – The ‘A’ Words, Assessment and Accountability

As academics we understand that programmatic or curricular changes warrant periodic assessment, if for nothing else to be certain that we haven’t lost focus on our institutional and departmental goals. Our approach to changes that address inclusion should be no different. The curriculum is a logical, non-threatening, place to begin assessment because, if found lacking, one can be mentored on how to incorporate inclusive strategies or pedagogy in their course structure. Some of the nation’s leading undergraduate institutions are at the frontier of these strategies and their faculty describe how they have provided an inclusive environment in the classroom as a portion of the student evaluation, annual faculty inventory, or the tenure and promotion process ( Friedersdorf, 2016 ; Jaschik, 2016 ). Administrators at these institutions ask faculty to submit inclusivity statements describing efforts to provide students with inclusive learning environments. These changes have been met with some challenges and fears that warrant address as an institutional community. In any evaluative process, additional criteria that cause stress or anxiety for faculty warrant much discussion among the faculty and faculty governance before any significant changes are made to the faculty handbook. Use of a trial evaluation period with no penalty has been successful because it allows time for faculty to see that many are already hosting inclusive environments in their classroom and, thus, the fear of being assessed on inclusivity is lessened ( Roll, 2017 ). In time, inclusivity becomes second nature just like any aspect of our responsibilities as faculty ( Hockings, 2010 ; Lawrie et al., 2017 ; Gannon, 2018 ), such as scholarship and service. Mid-term evaluations are another low-stakes means of feedback that allow faculty, staff, and administrators to address concerns in real time/more quickly. Students can be asked to give examples of times they have or have not felt included in the classroom ( Quaye and Harper, 2007 ), residence hall, common areas, etc. Assessment of inclusivity calls faculty, staff, and administrators to work together to define what this would look like at every level of the institution. Once an institutional-wide definition of inclusivity is accepted then faculty are better able to answer the question, “What does inclusivity mean for me and what I offer in the classroom or a meeting?” However, the assessment takes place, it is an essential piece to change what is promoted at the institution ( Hurtado et al., 2008 ; Hurtado and Halualani, 2014 ; Asai and Bauerle, 2016 ; Hurtado et al., 2017 ; Foster-Frau, 2018 ). We must hold ourselves accountable to our goals, if we truly want to see change; this is especially true with the work of providing an inclusive environment at the institutional level. Buy-in could be encouraged via incentives that provide a gentler approach to the assessment. Some examples would be for administrators to incentivize by budget increases when a department increases their rating on inclusivity as judged by student evaluations and faculty/staff climate surveys ( Smith and Powers, 2016 ). Many faculty annual reviews are already utilized to determine merit-based increases in annual salaries, with much discussion in faculty governance, this mechanism could then be an additional incentive. Lastly, as new programs that encourage inclusivity are developed, it is important to include external review from those institutions who have become “models” for diversity and inclusion ( Hurtado and Halualani, 2014 ; Smith and Powers, 2016 ). While it is important to have internal review by administrators who are familiar with the institution’s history and practice, external review ensures that the assessment process is reduced of the bias that can permeate institutional memory. These assessments allow the institution to realistically determine, as a work in progress, if new practices are indeed going beyond increasing access to diverse populations to higher education to change behaviors within the institution that result in increased inclusion at all levels. This level of assessment demands that the institution sets realistic goals as steps are taken toward providing an inclusive environment. In short, it is important to acknowledge at every step, that this magnitude of change within the institutional environment, after many years of failing to address the need for an environmental shift within academia, will take time and cannot happen if the steps outlined above are not first discussed as a faculty, with administrative support.

Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) poised to serve as model institutions

Minority serving institutions have as a part of their history the institutional goal of providing access to higher education and graduating large percentages of URMs ( Conrad and Gasman, 2015 ; Boland et al., 2017 ; NSF 2004; Hurtado et al., 2009 ; Hurtado et al., 2017 ). In 2013, MSIs served 40% of underrepresented students, totaling approximately 3.8 million students ( Li, 2007 ; Boland et al., 2017 ). MSI’s contribution to the number of URM graduates in STEM are most noted at HBCUs ( American Institutes for Research, 2012 ). In the biological and biomedical sciences alone, the top three HBCUs produced a large percentage of Black STEM PhD recipients at Howard (45%), Meharry Medical College (27%) and Morehouse School of Medicine (8%). MSIs also host a diverse faculty in comparison to non-MSI institutions, some with 20% of the faculty identifying as an underrepresented minority ( Gasman and Conrad, 2015 ; Boland et al., 2017 ). There is a significant need to follow the contributions of MSIs to the larger discussion of diversity and inclusion. Because MSIs have served the underserved for many years, one might assume that they do not need to engage in discussions of diversity and inclusion. On the contrary, given their prize position, it is even more important for MSIs to address and take the lead on the development of a diverse and inclusive academy.

Concluding Thoughts

Though we know many of the pitfalls - lack of an actionable plan or measurable outcomes; institutional culture/status quo and resistance to change; changing reputation as an inhospitable environment or even as an institution lacking diversity (i.e., attracting people when you have none) - admittedly the best practices to increase diversity and inclusion in academic settings are scarce because we are on the frontier of truly beginning inclusive work at the institutional level. It is also important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to enhancing institutional diversity and inclusivity. Incremental progress and a focus on continual improvement will be required. Thus, this paper aims to provide a start to the conversation at your institution, if it has not started already, and to move the needle forward toward action and ultimately toward ensuring accountability for our actions.

In a perfect world, where educational/socio-economic disparities do not exist, what will our institutions look like from top to bottom? How do we move beyond simply providing access and instead provide a roadmap to a profession, where one is valued for the perspectives they bring to the table? If we change the landscape of the institution at the administrative level, will we see persistent diversity in STEM and the academy as a whole? What complex problems will we solve when we have a heterogeneous mix of voices, perspectives, and approaches at the table?

This work was supported by a UIW Faculty Endowment Research Award and a Feik School of Pharmacy Research Award to VG M-A. The authors thank Drs. Karen Parfitt and Barbara Lom for their intellectual contributions and discussions. We thank Associate Dean Kelly Sorensen at Ursinus College and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Elmhurst College for their thoughtful review and helpful comments to this manuscript.

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Interventions and diversity, equity, and inclusion: Two current directions in research on the teaching and learning of calculus

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  • Published: 25 March 2024

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  • Tenchita Alzaga Elizondo 2 &
  • Sean Larsen   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6179-3783 1  

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Calculus continues to be an important topic of discussion among mathematics education researchers given how it often acts as a gatekeeper for students in STEM. In their extensive 2017 review of calculus literature, Larsen and colleagues identified two main areas of applied research that had largely been neglected: research related (1) to efforts to improve calculus teaching and learning and (2) to equity and social justice. In this review we investigate how scholars have answered this call by reviewing recent literature related to these two themes. First we identified some promising intervention studies that investigated changes at the course level (e.g., calculus courses intended for engineering students) and at the level of specific calculus topics (e.g. using digital tools to help students understand the Fundamental Theorem). Second, we identified several studies on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We found that some studies in this collection still approached this research through traditional methods (e.g., so called achievement gaps) but we also identified promising new directions for research in which scholars utilize critical theories and provide counter-narratives that highlight the strengths of calculus students from historically marginalized groups. We conclude our review by discussing future directions we hope to see in the field that we argue will strengthen current work.

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We mark with ** papers from the review with annotated bibliographies and with * the rest of the papers included in the review.

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*Adiredja, A. P. (2021). The pancake story and the epsilon-delta definition. Primus, 31 (6), 662–677. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511970.2019.1669231

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Alzaga Elizondo, T., Larsen, S. Interventions and diversity, equity, and inclusion: Two current directions in research on the teaching and learning of calculus. ZDM Mathematics Education (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-024-01553-3

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Time to Reimagine Equity in Knowledge Generation

  • 1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria
  • 2 Cardiovascular Research Unit, University of Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria
  • 3 Section for Global Health, Institute for Excellence in Health Equity, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, New York, New York
  • 4 Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Implementation Science, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Original Investigation Authorship of Publications Supported by NCI-Funded Grants in LMICs Linsey Eldridge, MPH; Elise M. Garton, MSc; Kalina Duncan, DrPH, MPH; Satish Gopal, MD, MPH JAMA Network Open

Equity in research collaboration and scientific authorship remains an important topic, 1 especially among researchers in higher-income countries (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). 2 , 3 Elsewhere in JAMA Network Open , using a cross-sectional bibliometric assessment, Eldridge and colleagues 4 elucidate the representation of authors from LMICs on publications supported by National Cancer Institute (NCI)–funded grants in LMIC settings. Their findings highlight some progress in LMIC authorship representation and emphasize the need to promote equitable collaborations in global cancer research. Eldridge and colleagues 4 discuss the role of funding disparities and publication bias as factors partly contributing to disparities in authorship. While the findings provide a landscape of the disparities in scientific authorship representation for NCI-funded projects in LMICs in the past decade, bibliographic assessments, in general, offer only a snapshot and not the entirety of the story related to knowledge production and scholarship involving researchers in the LMICs.

To democratize the process of knowledge generation, meaningful engagement of all global health partners in the production and dissemination of knowledge is crucial. 5 Using this lens as a global health expert and journal editor, Abimbola notes that advancing equity in global health is not only based on the lack of authorship representativeness per se but on the missed opportunity to showcase local knowledge, which inherently leads to what he termed “an intellectual deficit in academic global health.” 5 In essence, the inequity in the inclusion of researchers from LMICs as authors is more about the deficit in the knowledge produced and disseminated rather than mere representation as coauthors. Discussions about equity in authorship must not only hinge on the obvious missingness of LMIC authorship representation noted through bibliometric assessments—a point noted by Eldridge et al. 4 While this is important to note, there is a need to shift the focus to address the fact that knowledge growth in global health is limited by not including LMIC researchers in the knowledge production process. Authorship representation or credit based on knowledge generation is important for scholarship—especially in LMIC settings—because, as Kharasch et al state, “authorship must be intellectual, not transactional.” 1 And it is here that another relevant discussion point regarding authorship equity in global health research comes into focus, ie, the importance of capacity building.

In particular, poor research capacity building and strengthening by HIC collaborators are missed opportunities for LMIC researchers to contribute to scholarship discussions. This deficit deprives the scientific community of epistemic diversity that can be achieved through equitable inclusion of learnings from researchers in LMICs. Ensuring that capacity building is an essential part of research grants and projects will also positively affect the career advancements of LMIC researchers, including early career investigators and women. The continued narrative on gaps in manuscript development skills among researchers in LMICs has to be changed through intentional capacity strengthening and building. 6 This cannot happen except with concerted and continuous efforts toward discovering the right researchers and building capacity in them. In the case of global cancer research in LMICs, Eldridge et al 4 note that recent efforts to strengthen the research environment and build the capacity of LMIC institutions and early career investigators, respectively, are based on successful models from the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Importantly, they note that these successful training models embody principles of global health equity, eg, mutual respect and benefit, as well as clear partner roles and expectations. 4

Along with intentionally including capacity-building efforts, the role of funders and journal editors must be emphasized. Funders and journal editors can play a significant role in instituting equitable authorship practices in global health research partnerships. To this point, multiple global health researchers and editors 2 , 6 have offered guidance on revisiting the application of the scientific authorship criteria from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors 7 to promote equitable inclusion practices in global health research. We agree with their suggestion on pragmatic guidance for assessing involvement through reporting reflexivity statements to describe the ways in which equity was promoted in the partnership that produced the research. 2 Reflexivity statements are responses to a checklist of questions that authors involved in global health partnerships involving researchers from both LMICs and HICs that are submitted by authors and published alongside manuscripts. 2 , 3 Reflexivity statements will allow for more intentional reflection on positionality, the limitations of one-sided research dissemination, and the importance of equitable inclusion of partners in knowledge production. Journal editors and funding agencies should consider making a reflexivity statement a publication requirement and part of grant submission (similar to the NIH Foreign Justification document) for global health partnerships. Although not a panacea for the problem of inequity in authorship representation, they provide actional approaches that could ensure that researchers are more deliberate in promoting true partnership in generation of scientific knowledge.

In summary, the discourse on equity in scholarship through publications is part of a broader conversation on democratizing knowledge generation and production. While the North-South global collaboration has enormous potential for cross-learning, the scientific community must continually probe equity in such collaborations in order to address the imbalance in power that is often perpetuated with most of the funding being driven by HIC partners and funders, which may influence the false sense of superiority in knowledge production. While this idea does not address all the nuances of promoting equity in publication, we believe it promotes more intentional and equitable research partnerships.

Published: March 29, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.3410

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License . © 2024 Ojji D et al. JAMA Network Open .

Corresponding Author: Dike Ojji, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Abuja, Mohammed Maccido Road, Airport Rd, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory 902001, Nigeria ( [email protected] ).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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Ojji D , Aifah A , Nwaozuru UC. Time to Reimagine Equity in Knowledge Generation. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(3):e243410. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.3410

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Stacy Shimanuki, C’24, W’24, writes about her summer working on a Wharton Social Impact Research Experience project on the financial inclusion of migrant workers in Singapore.

This past summer, I received the opportunity to hone my independent research skills as I dove into a global issue with far-reaching social and business implications. I have always been interested in research, both as a significant aspect of my academic career as well as a potential aspect of my professional career. From writing research papers for seminar classes at Penn to conducting preliminary research and editing as a research assistant for my Lauder MBA team, I had enjoyed the process of continual learning, observation, and analysis to produce new knowledge and spark more awareness and discussion; however, I had never conducted a large-scale independent research project, and had never conducted research in field — partially because up until now I had not found a topic that particularly inspired me.

Yet, while on my gap year before Penn, I grew fascinated with an issue that drew me to in-depth study and exploration. Through my internship with a Taiwanese telecommunications company in Taipei, I gained a substantial understanding of the Southeast Asian migrant population in Taiwan and their work conditions, living situations, and financial and social needs that are only barely starting to be noticed and served — and I grew interested in the migrant worker population in other countries as well, namely Singapore.

Through the Wharton Social Impact Research Experience (SIRE) program, I sought to merge my passion for migrant workers with the actionable and effective solutions that finance and financial inclusion brings, finding an angle that is more results-driven than the human rights perspective that framed my academic research, and more social impact-driven than the profit perspective that framed my market research for my Taiwanese company. As the intersection of international relations and business, this not only dovetailed my two degree programs as a Huntsman student , but also furthered my future goals of wielding my business expertise for social impact globally after graduation.

Actually going to Singapore and conducting my research proved to be immensely challenging, but also immensely rewarding. Particularly during COVID restrictions, the travel and visa logistics, self-quarantine, and partial lock-down halfway into my stay required flexibility and coordination on my part. And of course, the research itself — as well as just living in a completely unfamiliar city — pushed me to take more initiative and boldness, whether in asking random strangers for their opinions at a mall where migrant workers tended to congregate after work or making first friends in a city where I knew absolutely no one. But those experiences are also what made my summer so special and gave me a sense of self-assuredness and the confidence to reach out to other people, pursue, and simply ask for what I want.

Reflecting back, I think I learned more about Singapore — both about migrant workers as well as Singapore in general — in my two months there than I learned about Taiwan during my entire gap year, as a result of merely being intentional about living there to soak everything in and understand as much as I could about its history, culture, and people. Coming back to Penn, one of my biggest goals is to keep that mindset of constant growth and seeking new experiences — and also to keep the amazing memories I made in Singapore, memories like sleeping outside on an island off the coast of Singapore with my German AirBnB roommate, running to the National Library of Singapore to do research and escape the never-ending heat, trying plate after plate of food from all the best hawker stalls, walking around the Marina Bay plaza and gardens at night (the one from Crazy Rich Asians ), and of course, coming back home to reunite with my friends and family — and get excited about the rest of my time at Penn.

—  Stacy Shimanuki

Read Stacy’s research paper, “Financial Inclusion of Migrant Workers in Singapore.”

Posted: December 10, 2021

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Wharton social impact research experience.

The Wharton Undergraduate Division offers up to ten awards each year to support undergraduate research that promotes both economic and social value either domestically or abroad. Projects are designed and carried out by the students under the guidance of some of Wharton’s preeminent faculty members. Students’ projects culminate in oral presentations and written research papers that are posted on ScholarlyCommons@Penn .

Stacy Shimanuki, C’24, W’24

Stacy Shimanuki

Stacy is a sophomore pursuing a dual degree in International Studies and Business through the Huntsman Program.

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Journalism programmes receive NCTJ award for equality, diversity and inclusion

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Liverpool John Moores University was recognised by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) during their annual Awards for Excellence, taking home an accolade for equality, diversity and inclusion.

LJMU has several NCTJ-accredited journalism courses and was among only a handful of universities to receive an award for going above and beyond for its students.

The award recognises LJMU’s work on diversity and inclusion including the creation of a Diversity Reporting Guide and a planned Diversity in Journalism Teaching symposium for June.

Fran Yeoman, Programme Leader for Journalism, collected the award at a ceremony which took place at the Royal College of Physicians at Regent’s Park in London, and saw 21 awards presented in a variety of categories. 

It was  hosted by John Pienaar , drive-time host on Times Radio who was formerly both the BBC’s deputy political editor and chief political correspondent at BBC Radio 5 Live. 

John said he was “delighted to be here today to present these awards, and to celebrate innovation and diversity within journalism”.

He said: “I think we can all agree that the importance of quality, trust and diversity in journalism – the NCTJ’s values – has never been more important.”

View a full list of all the Awards for Excellence’s winners , highly commended and commended journalists, students and educators – and their shortlisted entries.

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About the National Council for the Training of Journalists

The NCTJ is the industry’s charity that delivers the premier training scheme for journalists in the UK. It provides a world-class education and training system that develops current and future journalists for the demands of a fast-changing multimedia industry. The NCTJ administers the Journalism Diversity Fund , which aims to action real change, ensuring diversity is at the top of the agenda throughout the journalism industry. 

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