Would we understand the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) if a diverse group of scientists had not learned from each other?
Maybe not. The discovery of DNA's double-helix structure shows how diverse voices and perspectives fuel groundbreaking findings.
The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) believes diversity and inclusion are inseparable from our mission to deliver leading-edge care, research, education and community engagement.
“As members of a public institution dedicated to improving the health and well-being of humankind, we share an intrinsic responsibility to build a more equitable world, one that empowers today’s problem solvers and creates new opportunities for generations to come. At the DGSOM, our Cultural North Star values — among them, ‘We work together to eliminate inequity’ and ‘We seek out diverse voices’ — unite us in this charge.” – Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD, Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, recently set an example for anyone hoping to confront inequity. With his sights set on achieving greater gender diversity at scientific conferences, he called to end the all-male speaking panels (nicknamed manels) prevalent at scientific conferences.
Dr. Collins asked science leaders to join him in combating bias that bars women from earning recognition and receiving awards. (One prestigious award, the Copley Medal, has gone to only one female recipient since 1731.)
Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities,” Collins said. “If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part.”
Anyone can counteract inequity by emulating DGSOM’s Cultural North Star principles; this includes recognizing diversity champions, such as Dr. Collins, and following in their footsteps.
“We hope that all members of the DGSOM community will make a commitment to follow Dr. Collins’ lead to participate only on diverse and inclusive panels, where it is clear that these principles have been honored in the planning of programs, both within and outside of UCLA,” says Dean Kelsey Martin. “And we hope that anyone planning a program or assembling a panel will be sure to include diverse voices.”
Diversity champions can also attend and participate in events that celebrate inclusivity, such as the recent WITH U (Women in Tech Health - UCLA) event, Women’s IT Leadership Journey.