Fraser Lab DEIJ Journal Club - The Minority Tax

A group of scientists within the Fraser lab have begun a journal club centered around issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within academia, specifically in the biological sciences.

Our goal is to provide an environment for continued learning, critical discussion, and brainstorming action items that individuals and labs can implement. Our discussions and proposed interventions reflect our own opinions based on our personal identities and lived experiences, and may differ from the identities and experiences of others. We will recap our discussions and proposed action items through a series of blog posts, and encourage readers to directly engage with DEIJ practitioners and their scholarship to improve your environment.

Article: Addressing racism through ownership. Dutt, K. DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00688-2

Article: Black Scientists Are Not the Door to Diversity. Hayes, CA. DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.1c00375

Article: The Burden of Service for Faculty of Color to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion: The Minority Tax. Trejo J. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E20-08-0567

Summary: Marginalized people are expected to dismantle oppressive systems that actively disenfranchise them, an expectation known as the Minority Tax. How does this tax impact people at different stages of their career, and how do we combat this expectation?

Key Points:

  • Successful DEIJ work takes teamwork.
  • There is a lack of respect for DEIJ work.
    • This is most obvious in the deliberate exclusion of DEI work from traditional metrics of professional progress, such as promotion and funding.
    • Universities are often recognized and praised for the contributions of individuals to DEIJ work.
  • There is a lack of support for DEIJ work.
    • This work is rarely done by an expert. Instead, those with lived experiences are often tasked with developing and implementing DEI efforts. This model results in mixed outcomes while allowing universities to claim they support DEIJ initiatives.

Open Questions

  • How do we get more people involved in DEIJ work?
  • What do you do with people who are not interested in contributing to DEIJ?
  • How do we track and reward DEIJ effort among academic personnel?
  • How do we evaluate the impact of diversity efforts in academia?
  • Is it appropriate for basic scientists to create and lead DEIJ efforts?

Proposed Action Items:

  • Estimate how much time you are spending on DEIJ work compared to others. Take note of who shows up to meetings, comes up with ideas, and executes those ideas.
  • Increase the importance of service work, specifically DEIJ work, in tenure and promotion decisions.
  • Provide material resources, such as hiring full-time staff or providing money for consultants, to implement DEIJ projects or initiatives.