Chemistry Kicks Off Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative with STRIDE Seminar

Ted Bergin

On Wednesday, September 27th, the Emory University Department of Chemistry was pleased to welcome Dr. Edwin (Ted) Bergin, Professor and Chair of Astronomy at the University of Michigan, to speak about “Strategies and Tactics Developed at the University of Michigan to Enhance Diversity and Excellence in the Hiring Process.”

Dr. Bergin has spent three years as a member of the University of Michigan’s STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) committee. STRIDE formed over a decade ago to provide information and advice for identifying, recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse, well-qualified candidates for faculty positions at the University of Michigan. Since then, the committee has delivered more than 150 workshops to faculty recruitment committees at other Universities across the country.

“The committee has the mission to try to increase both diversity and excellence throughout the University, and the main vehicle is through the hiring process,” Dr. Bergin said. “Having a more diverse faculty can lead to more thoughtful and deliberative discussions. So, diversity and excellence go hand-in-hand.” During the STRIDE workshop seminar, Dr. Bergin provided attendees with insights into how hidden biases influence our perceptions and strategies to circumvent these biases. He outlined the “Top Ten Best Practices”, a comprehensive list of steps to take during the hiring process to recruit for diversity and excellence.

Emory as an institution strives to cultivate an inclusive and diverse community with a respectful intellectual stage for sharing ideas and innovation. Based on the Emory University 2016-2017 Academic Profile, minorities comprise 32 percent of the student body, 28 percent of faculty and 49 percent of staff, women comprise 58 percent of the student body, 42 percent of faculty and 62 percent of staff, and 17 percent of the student body is international.

Earlier this year, The Emory Department of Chemistry formed a task force, led by Dr. James Kindt, to address issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of its members, Dr. Susanna Widicus Weaver, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, invited Dr. Bergin for this seminar after learning that he was instrumental in achieving gender balance at an astrochemistry conference they both attended.  “Our Emory Chemistry task force took a look at the goals of the STRIDE group and decided that Professor Bergin would be a fantastic speaker to bring in to kick off our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative,” Dr. Widicus Weaver said. “Increasing diversity in our community means that we introduce new ideas, new ways of thought, and new perspectives. Diversity, equity, and inclusion makes us stronger as a Department and enriches our community.”

Moving forward, the Department of Chemistry Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force plan to have more events like this one to provide training and strategies to better address the possible bias-based obstacles to achieving a diverse and inclusive community. By raising awareness and starting conversations centered around these concepts, The Emory Department of Chemistry can take pride in not only seeking diversity, but truly taking the steps to achieve it.