UO Biology Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant awarded!

I’m pleased to announce that a working group composed of myself, and University of Oregon doctoral students Theresa Cheng (Neuroscience) and Deepika Sundarraman (Physics) have been awarded a UO Biology Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant!

We have been awarded $1000 to develop a series of professional development workshops for managing identity-based harassment in science communication. Theresa, Deepika, and I are Pod Coordinators for the Eugene Pod of 500 Women Scientists, and we have been looking to expand our repertoire of activities in the Eugene community. This grant will help us reach scientists to promote professional development, diversity, equity, and inclusion!

“Amplifying diverse voices: training and support for managing identity-based harassment in science communication”

Statement of Proposed Activity

Communicating science to the public is professionally challenging, and for researchers from underrepresented communities, public engagement involves overcoming stereotypical perceptions about professional capacity [1,2]. Facing heckling, harassment, or discrimination can alter how researchers engage with the public, as well as their willingness to do so [3].  This reduces the visibility of these scientists and their work, and can stymie their professional development and the public’s perception of scientists [4,5].

To address this, we propose to organize several professional development workshops on campus on overcoming identity-based discrimination and harassment in public engagement for scientists. Our target audience for these events are students and faculty in the UO Department of Biology who self-identify as marginalized or underrepresented in science. In particular, we will recruit recruit undergraduate to early career faculty women in the biological sciences.

The workshops will be presented by Rehearsals for Life (RfL)[6], a social justice graduate student theatre troupe at UO which uses innovative and interactive techniques to engage participants in dialogue. RfL trains attendees to handle difficult situations arising from public communication and engagement in a manner that is sensitive to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. These workshops will be tailored by RfL based on audience concerns, e.g., sharing environmental/ecological research to audiences of climate change skeptics. Attendance is capped to support an intimate, safe, tailored, and participatory experience; across two workshops, we will support the development of 80 scientists.

Giving people the tools to engage with the public gives them the confidence to do so, thus promoting the visibility of scientific research from a diverse UO cohort. Additionally, these events will connect women and underrepresented scientists across academic levels to build our campus community. We will evaluate the success of the workshops in accomplishing these goals via a post-event survey that asks about (a) skill development, (b) confidence in public engagement, (c) sense of community, and (d) talks/other instances of public engagement.


1. Catalyst. Women “Take Care,” Men “Take Charge:” Stereotyping of U.S. Business Leaders Exposed [Internet]. Catalyst. 2005. Available: https://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-take-care-men-take-charge-stereotyping-us-business-leaders-exposed

2. Kiser AIT. Workplace and leadership perceptions between men and women. Gender in Management: An International Journal. 2015;30: 598–612.

3. Phoenix J. An Open Letter to People Who Send Hate Mail to Scientists. In: Medium [Internet]. Medium; 13 Sep 2018 [cited 6 Oct 2018]. Available: https://medium.com/@jessphoenix2018/an-open-letter-to-people-who-send-hate-mail-to-scientists-8b1b6df518cb

4. Buldu M. Young children’s perceptions of scientists: a preliminary study. Educational Research. Routledge; 2006;48: 121–132.

5. National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 [Internet]. US National Science Foundation (NSF); 2014. Available: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/index.cfm/chapter-7/c7s3.htm

6. Rehearsals for Life. Rehearsals for Life [Internet]. [cited 6 Oct 2018]. Available: https://gradschool.uoregon.edu/rehearsals-for-life

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