Who should write a diversity statement
Last semester (Sept. 2017), a friend of mine helped me with a class project that required me to recruit several individuals to participate in an unmoderated remote user test. Once everything was completed, she mentioned that I would make a good online teacher and that I should consider it. I value her opinion especially in matters concerning education. She is a very accomplished black woman. She has her Ph.D. and many years of academic leadership under her belt. The only experience I have had, with teaching, was tutoring elementary school students and homeschooling my three children.
After that experience and after talking with current professors (as well as some of my favorite professors from undergrad), I decided that I want to teach classes online (or hybrid). So, this semester I’m taking a class that provides training and exercises to strengthen teaching skills and/or prepare individuals to become future teachers.
Our lesson, this week, asks us to write a diversity statement. Apparently, many organizations of higher education are requesting these statements from potential instructors. I began reading the information listed in our syllabus and the online articles. By the time I finished the reading material, realized that I was part of an underrepresented student group. I realized that my past experiences, growing up, have influenced my educational and career goals. I wondered why I would need to write a diversity statement. After all, I am an African American female. I grew up in an urban environment with local schools that weren’t very well supported by local government. In my community, graduating from high school was tough enough and making it to college was extra. Just making it to college, not necessarily successfully completing a college education. I was the first child of my single-parent household to complete an undergraduate education. After many years, I am now enrolled in (and close to completing) my master’s degree program. Now, I want to teach students who have made their way to college.
The topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion is significant to higher education in a way that (to some degree) may determine the success of a student. I didn’t think I needed to write a diversity statement because I have lived my entire life on the receiving end of those who didn’t practice (or were not concerned) with issues of diversity, equity or inclusion in the classroom. That was familiar territory for me as a minority woman living under the constant crunch of my own flimsy socio-economic structure. However, as I read more and followed links to other sources of information regarding the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I realized that all educators need to be concerned with and practice diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom.
The following terms are an excerpt from (Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter) an online article, written by Kapila, et. al, that gives a great breakdown and could be a starting point for more research.
Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ [such as] race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance.
Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate.
Kapila, M., Hines, E., Searby, M. (2016 Oct. 6). Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter. Independent Sector Retrieved from https://independentsector.org/resource/why-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-matter/