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Embracing diversity and inclusivity in an academic setting: Insights from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping


Jollans,  Lee
Dept. Translational Research in Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Tzovara, A., Amarreh, I., Borghesani, V., Chakravarty, M. M., DuPre, E., Grefkes, C., et al. (2021). Embracing diversity and inclusivity in an academic setting: Insights from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. NEUROIMAGE, 229: 117742. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117742.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-EA29-3
Scientific research aims to bring forward innovative ideas and constantly challenges existing knowledge structures and stereotypes. However, women, ethnic and cultural minorities, as well as individuals with disabilities, are systematically discriminated against or even excluded from promotions, publications, and general visibility. A more diverse workforce is more productive, and thus discrimination has a negative impact on science and the wider society, as well as on the education, careers, and well-being of individuals who are discriminated against. Moreover, the lack of diversity at scientific gatherings can lead to micro-aggressions or harassment, making such meetings unpleasant, or even unsafe environments for early career and underrepresented scientists.
At the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), we recognized the need for promoting underrepresented scientists and creating diverse role models in the field of neuroimaging. To foster this, the OHBM has created a Diversity and Inclusivity Committee (DIC). In this article, we review the composition and activities of the DIC that have promoted diversity within OHBM, in order to inspire other organizations to implement similar initiatives.
Activities of the committee over the past four years have included (a) creating a code of conduct, (b) providing diversity and inclusivity education for OHBM members, (c) organizing interviews and symposia on diversity issues, and (d) organizing family-friendly activities and providing childcare grants during the OHBM annual meetings.
We strongly believe that these activities have brought positive change within the wider OHBM community, improving inclusivity and fostering diversity while promoting rigorous, ground-breaking science. These positive changes could not have been so rapidly implemented without the enthusiastic support from the leader-ship, including OHBM Council and Program Committee, and the OHBM Special Interest Groups (SIGs), namely the Open Science, Student and Postdoc, and Brain-Art SIGs. Nevertheless, there remains ample room for improvement, in all areas, and even more so in the area of targeted attempts to increase inclusivity for women, individuals with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, racial/ethnic minorities, and individuals of lower socioeconomic status or from low and middle-income countries.
Here, we present an overview of the DIC's composition, its activities, future directions and challenges. Our goal is to share our experiences with a wider audience to provide information to other organizations and institutions wishing to implement similar comprehensive diversity initiatives. We propose that scientific organizations can push the boundaries of scientific progress only by moving beyond existing power structures and by integrating principles of equity and inclusivity in their core values.