This “cookbook” contains a list of action items that our group has either completed or are continuing to work on. We wanted to provide as much information in each “recipe” as possible so that groups at other institutions can use our work as a stepping stone toward their own goals. There are two things we’d like to note before you use this cookbook.
1) This list came from dozens of conversations within our department: grad student-only meetings as well as department-wide discussions that included faculty. Although our department is subject to the same problems common to many academic departments, this list still might contain a signature of our own needs and ideas. The first three recipes (Form a Group; Department Conversations; and Develop a List of Action Items) took our department at least 4-6 months to complete, and we continue to develop ideas for more action items. Be patient, and keep talking to each other to come up with your own unique solutions.
2) We have listed the items in the approximate order in which they were addressed in our department, and this may be an important point for end-users. We realized early in our conversations with faculty that some of our ideas and rhetoric could easily be misread by faculty, alienating them from our cause. And we needed faculty support. Therefore, certain actions had to be completed before others could be successful.
For example, required mentorship training for faculty could be seen as another pointless waste of time for faculty who have over-full schedules. It could also be interpreted as punishment for a “crime” they did not commit (i.e., being a bad mentor). But having a department-wide discussion specifically geared toward power dynamics and sexual harassment, many faculty cited the need for better faculty training so that they knew what to do when confronted with problematic actions against trainees by colleagues. We can now use this need to cater a mentorship training program for our faculty that they specifically asked for, and that will be useful for them.
Some advice: be patient! Most of what we’ve done has been a series of small steps that, individually, often seem insignificant. Remember that any action you take is forward movement.
There’s a great Twitter thread by Dr. Hope Jahren that emphasizes the importance of simply discussing these issues with your colleagues.