Tag Archives: diversity

Gender & Sexual Diversity: Why ALL Social Scientists Should be Conducting Inclusive Research

Written by:  J. Stewart, North Carolina State University, member of the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

lgbtq-2495947_1920Did you know that the current administration recently eliminated a proposal to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 U.S. census survey? You may or may not realize that doing so poses potentially serious threats to the rights of many Americans through this powerful form of erasure. Without this data, we will continue to have only rough estimates of the number of LGBTQ+ people living in the U.S.

As stigma surrounding sexual minority identities has lessened over the last few decades, many psychologists and social scientists across specialties are increasingly encountering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) participants in research conducted in general populations. As researchers who strive to maintain a certain neutrality when collecting and interpreting data, the degree to which we can actively further an equal rights agenda in conducting the research is limited. However, through the small, yet impactful act of prioritizing inclusivity in research practices, social scientists can help to challenge systems of oppression while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the science.

By merely (yet accurately) recognizing the diversity that exists with regard to people’s sexualities, we can both affirm the identities of people of those experiences and signal to all participants that such experiences are present and valid. This can be accomplished, for example, through the use of inclusive language in surveys and offering more options than just the typical “male/female” and “straight/gay/lesbian” for possible answers to demographic questions. When phrasing questions in binary terms or restricting demographic responses, researchers may inadvertently oppress gender and sexual minority individuals by reinforcing binary conceptions of gender and imposing limited characterizations of sexual orientation.

Dismantling these systems calls for a paradigm shift within every social sphere—including scientific research. Consider the ways in which social science informs public policy. If we do not produce research that reflects the diversity that we know exists in our society, the public institutions that draw upon that research will continue to marginalize that diversity. Given the historical role science has played in oppression, we have an ethical imperative to do better.

Here are ten things that you can do to integrate inclusive research practices into your next study:

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What Can I Do to Help? A Starter Kit for Effective Allyship

AllyIt is a time of turmoil and dramatic change in the United States. This is reflected in divisive executive orders, the rise in hate crimes, and hate rhetoric targeted at marginalized groups.

So what can you do? This article calls on psychologists and psychologists-in-training to use their expertise and privilege to combat prejudice and discrimination as well as promote inclusion across the spectrum of diverse identities.

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Crying Wolf: Is the public really at risk and do we really need another licensing exam?

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) has repeatedly explained that its mission is to support licensing boards in meeting their goal of public protection. With this in mind, on March 21, 2016, the ASPPB announced its intention to create a competency exam, the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology Step 2 (EPPP2), which the ASPPB expects to be ready for implementation by January of 2019. Unlike the EPPP, which is intended to assess knowledge, the EPPP2 is intended to assess competency-based skills. While public protection is an admirable goal, and one which I believe the ASPPB is sincerely committed to, it’s unclear how this additional test would help licensing boards meet their goal of public protection. The EPPP itself has been subject to many critiques that remain unanswered, critiques that would likely apply to the EPPP2 as well. Due to the significant investments of time and money students will be required to make in taking the EPPP2 (the cost of the EPPP is $687 in most jurisdictions, and half of test takers spend over 200 hours preparing), these critiques should be addressed prior to the implementation of the EPPP2.

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4 Strategies for Success for the Low-Income Grad Student

piggy-bank-phd-mhtBy Kala J. Melchiori, PhD (Asst. Professor of Psychology, James Madison University)

Dear low-income graduate students,

If you come from a less privileged background, graduate school can present unique social and cultural challenges. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for low-income grad students after financial worry is belonging. Students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds report lower feelings of belonging during graduate school and beyond[i]. Students who feel they do not belong are more likely to drop out of their programs and steer away from high-prestige academic positions (like R1 or R2[1] tenure-track jobs) after they graduate. Below I offer some advice I wish I had heard before starting graduate school.

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Living at the Intersection: Reflections on the Graduate Student Experience

Guest columnist: James Hornback, Alliant University, California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), Class of 2017

What social identities do you currently identify as most central to you?

James… being African American, Gay, and Older are only three parts of the factors that make me who I am, so I prefer my social identity to be summed up as simply James.

Describe one challenge you’ve experienced in graduate school related to intersecting identities. How did you navigate it and what did you learn from the experience?

The most challenging aspect of my experience in graduate school has not been my ethnicity or sexual orientation, but my age. I will soon be fifty-four years old, which has placed me in an entirely different segment, not only in my cohort, but also in my campus’ student population.  I make my age an open acknowledged difference between myself and my fellow students, pointing out that I have life experiences that shape my perceptions, both in class and out, that color my interactions. It’s actually become, for the most part, a non-issue and a learning experience for everyone involved; including the professors who may be younger, older or relatively of my age. It keeps things interesting!

How have you found support and spaces to talk about your intersecting identities as they relate to graduate school and your quality of life?

I put myself out there. I am out about my sexual orientation and I cannot hide my ethnicity, and I’m outspoken. I stand up for myself and about issues within the department that hinder our ability to achieve our goals, and push for active participation in multicultural and social justice based causes.

 

Editor’s Note: This column is part of a series highlighting the experiences of students and professionals with diverse intersecting identities and was created by the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity and the Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Are you interested in sharing about your own navigation of intersecting identities in graduate school? We would be happy to hear from you! To learn more, please contact Heather Dade.

Check out previous posts in this series: