By Dana R.H. Doan and Tiara Dungy
Since November 2017, two first-year doctoral students (that’s us!) began working on a small project to explore bias with IUPUI staff, faculty, and students.
Our objective was to raise awareness about implicit bias and, ideally, facilitate action that could help IUPUI with its goal to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus. This blog post sets out to share the results of that project, including recent discussions with leadership and faculty from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy who are currently engaging with the proposed recommendations.
The key project activities included two workshops on implicit bias, which were designed and facilitated by Peace Learning Center, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization. The workshops took place in early February and attracted staff, faculty, and graduate students from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the School of Social Work, and at least 10 others schools or departments on the IUPUI campus. Before, during, and one month after the workshops, participants were invited to provide feedback and share personal experiences.
Prior to the workshop, registered participants were asked to share personal or professional experiences with bias. The vast majority of respondents acknowledged the existence of bias in their respective school, department, and university. One respondent shared, “I have been told I spoke well for my race by a teacher,” and that “people have made assumptions that I have certain positive qualities due to my gender,” or “you would be surprised by the amount of judgment and exclusion (not drinking) actually creates among my work colleagues.”
A third respondent admitted that “I struggle with assisting students who prioritize finances and prestige over all other parts of a career. I mentally know that it is not a bad thing … but when in a one-on-one advising appointment, I really struggle with how to assist them with their plans.”
Meanwhile, less than half of the respondents reported that they knew how to reduce the bias.
|Bias exists at IUPUI||0%||12%||88%|
|Bias exists in my school/department||4%||19%||78%|
|I know how to reduce bias||24%||35%||41%|
At the end of both workshops, participants were asked to provide their immediate feedback. At this time, nearly all participants reported that the workshop helped them better understand bias, and almost 90 percent said it helped them to recognize their own biases.
Several respondents noted, some with a hint of surprise, that “The workshop was not a guilt-trip, (it) was presented in a constructive way,” and “There was zero shaming language, but the message was there.”
And others spoke up about the need for such occasions and opportunities “to acknowledge judgments – mine, yours, ours” and “to take steps to understand one another, better hear one another, and realize that we are stronger together.”
|Helped me to better understand bias||3.0%||1.5%||95.5%|
|Helped me to recognize my own biases||1.5%||9.1%||89.4%|
|Helped me to ID actions I can take||3.0%||1.5%||95.5%|
One month after the workshop, participants received yet another survey and about a dozen were asked back for a one-on-one interview. From those responses, it was clear that the workshop message was not lost. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents said they took at least one action to address bias, personally or professionally. And 65 percent said they already recommended—or were planning to recommend—an action to their respective school or department.
Individuals shared personal stories about actions they were taking, or planning to take, such as staff who are reviewing and adapting internal processes and procedures, as well as rethinking their approach to external communications, and faculty who are revising—or planning to revise—their course syllabi.
The vast majority indicated a need for additional support on this topic, in the form of trainings, conversations, and access to expertise for themselves and for their colleagues.
A motivating aspect of this project, was the invitation—before the project even got started—to present the results of this work and subsequent recommendations to Dean Amir Pasic and Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Kuhn of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Given that nearly 30 percent of workshop participants represented the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (including 14 staff, six faculty, the dean, and a handful of graduate students), there was substantive interest in the findings.
After sending the initial report to participants, partners, and advisors, and processing their feedback, the following three recommendations were submitted to Dean Pasic and Kuhn in late August for consideration:
- Incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the core curriculum.
- Encourage and incentivize staff and faculty to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at the school.
- Provide regular access to training and/or support for students, staff, and faculty that empowers them to take action and move past bias.
One week after presenting these recommendations to the dean and COO, we were invited to present the results and recommendations to faculty and staff of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy during a joint luncheon. Following our presentation, a number of staff and faculty provided feedback, encouragement, and advice, both in terms of what they hope to do at the school and also what more we could all think about doing on the IUPUI campus.
Meanwhile, there have been a flurry of related activities taking place at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and across the IUPUI campus since August, such as communications and upcoming events by the newly launched Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, an IUPUI campus diversity soiree, workshop on job descriptions, and White Racial Literacy Project, which will host talks and trainings and offer advice to faculty throughout the 2018-2019 academic year.
While these activities and initial feedback are positive and important, there remains a great deal of work to undertake for any one of the three proposed recommendations and also to ensure that other important work on campus receives substantive support, including human and financial resources.
This work will need to be promoted and shared among many and coordinated across invisible and visible boundaries. We remain grateful for the opportunity to get involved in these initiatives and we look forward to continuing to support collaborative efforts at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and efforts by members of the greater IUPUI campus this year and into the future.