UWPA Diversity & Inclusion Forum

The UW-Madison Postdoctoral Association hosted the virtual Postdoc Diversity & Inclusion Forum on Friday, April 30, 2021. The goal of the event was to highlight the experiences regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) issues and challenges faced by UW-Madison’s postdocs, particularly from underrepresented groups. The forum was designed to initiate an open dialogue regarding these complex issues between university leadership, postdocs, and other campus members.

Throughout the summer and early fall, the organizing committee sought out opinions and feedback from the postdoctoral community about their interactions with diversity and inclusion at UW-Madison. The responses received encompassed a range of topics, from mentor-mentee dynamics, the range of diversity and inclusion training available, and the general environment on campus. Interestingly, among the feedback received was the desire for a forum to share these experiences, which led to the establishment of the Postdoc Diversity & Inclusion Forum. To provide better context for discussion purposes, specific narratives and recommended measures were also gathered to supplement the university responses and brought forth to a panel of university representatives as below:

  • William Barker, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, CALS
  • Cheryl Gittens, Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement
  • James Keck, Associate Dean for Basic Research Training, SMPH
  • Gloria Marί-Beffa, Interim Associate Dean for Research, L&S Associate Dean for Natural and Physical Sciences
  • Oliver Schmitz, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs, College of Engineering
  • Amy Wendt, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Physical Sciences, OVCRGE

“The committee intentionally chose the university leaders at higher positions, which allowed us to raise the issues with the governing body most qualified to implement any proposed changes,” explained James Romero-Masters, from the McArdle Department of Oncology, who served as one of two co-chairs for the event regarding the choice of panelists for this event.

Overall, there was consensus among the participants that there was a strong need for change and would require measures to be implemented in a systematic fashion over time. The panelists acknowledged the narratives and proposed remedial measures, as well as provided constructive feedback and shared plans regarding resources that are available or in development to better support these initiatives. The UW-Madison Postdoctoral Association also committed to continued advocacy for change through this form of open dialogue and hopes that university leadership will view this forum as the initial steps to improve the postdoctoral training experience for all at UW-Madison. Plans are in development for a more targeted follow-up forum regarding resources available to postdocs when facing challenging workplace scenarios.

For more information:

Read about this event on the UWPA website and about other DEIJ events: https://uwpa.wisc.edu/diversity/uwpa-di-town-hall-and-listening-event-solicitation-for-stories-and-policy-recommendations/

Postdoc survey results: https://uwpa.wisc.edu/diversity/diversity-inclusion-survey/

To review the forum outcome booklet: https://uwpa.wisc.edu/documents/2021-diversity-and-inclusion-forum-booklet/

For policies regarding Hostile & Intimidating Behavior (HIB) policies:  https://hr.wisc.edu/hib/