Geneticists summarize the plan to foster diversity, inclusion in their field

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Concrete examples to promote diversity and inclusion in conferences. These are elements of action for future conferences that were discussed during the equity and quarantine “Meiosis in quarantine” sessions. Credit: Billmyre KK et al., 2021, PLOS Genetics

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a group of geneticists studying the meiosis cellular process held a virtual discussion on how to increase the inclusion of underrepresented groups in their community. Now, Katherine Billmyre, of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, María Angélica Bravo Núñez, of Harvard University, Francesca Cole, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, and her colleagues describe the plan. resulting in an opinion piece for the open access journal. PLOS Genetics.

The definition of underrepresented groups by researchers is broad, but includes gender, race, or underrepresented gender. , as well as people with disabilities or neurodiversities, who are part of the LGBTQ + community, from disadvantaged backgrounds, or first-generation college students. As discussed in the web seminar, “Meiosis in Quarantine,” individuals in these groups face under-representation and many other challenges in academia.

The first part of the plan focuses on fostering diversity and inclusion in academic conferences. Elements of action include diversifying the lists of people invited to speak, providing innovative and inclusive creative opportunities, and addressing barriers to in-person assistance, for example, by providing to travel or include a virtual conferencing component.

The action plan also outlines steps to increase diversity and equity outside of conferences. In particular, it addresses the lack of representation among leaders in genetic research, which may discourage academic research by students from underrepresented groups. To address this issue, the plan includes calls to encourage interest in STEM camps from kindergarten to , removing obstacles that prevent the entry of several people , improve the internal culture of research laboratories and address inequality in teacher recruitment.

The authors acknowledge that the issues addressed by their action plan extend far beyond the genetic community and call for extensive institutional reforms. These include better retention of multiple professors and better benefits for postdoctoral researchers who are also caregivers of their families.

The authors hope that the action plan will improve diversity, inclusion and equity in post-pandemic conferences and beyond, both in genetics and in other scientific fields. Not only do they believe that fair treatment is a moral duty, but it is widely accepted that a diverse scientific community helps to discover and innovate.

“During the‘ Meiosis in Quarantine ’virtual conference, our community, led by participants, discussed the barriers people face underrepresented in science,” Cole adds. “As a group, we have developed a strategic action plan on diversity and inclusion that can be broadly applied to the genetics and biomedical research communities.”


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More information:
Billmyre KK, Bravo Núñez MA, Bishop DK, Cole F (2021) Meiosis in quarantine discussions leads to an action plan to increase diversity and inclusion within the genetic community. PLoS Genet 17 (7): e1009648. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009648

Citation: Geneticists describe plan to increase diversity, inclusion in their field (2021, July 15) retrieved July 16, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-geneticists-outline- boost-diversity-inclusion.html

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