Transforming the scientific community

December 08, 2020

The members of ACNP have been motivated by recent events to strengthen diversity and inclusivity programs within the College and find ways to promote change in our home institutions. Two Annual Meeting Study Groups provided both information and practical action steps for members. The first addressed the challenge of moving beyond diversity and inclusivity as "buzzwords" toward institutional change. Evidence-based strategies were discussed that can be used widely at academic institutions, in medical and scientific education specifically, within ACNP and at members' home institutions. The second Study Group addressed microaggressions, brief daily encounters that convey negative messages to members within specific biographical groups. While overt racism, sexism and classism in professional settings has decreased due to clear policies developed by institutions and professional organizations, microaggressions remain across all levels of scientific training and academic rank and contribute to the low representation of women and underrepresented minority groups among academic leadership. Women make up only 18% of medical school deans, while those from underrepresented minority groups account for 12% of deans. The Study Group provided insight into how and why microaggressions occur and discussed practical strategies to raise awareness and provided easy to remember and implementable strategies to eliminate them.

Inclusion and Diversity Efforts Within Large Scientific Organizations: Tangible Methods that Work

There is no clear consensus on how to enhance diversity and inclusivity at institutions, and these efforts are often assigned to members of underrepresented groups who are most affected and lack the authority and resources to effect institutional change. This study group co-Chaired by Dr. April Thames of the University of Southern California and Dr. Sade Spencer of the University of Minnesota addressed evidence-based methods to effect transformation in scientific institutions like the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. April Thames discussed strategies including translating workgroup efforts into tangible outcomes and products, using social media and collaborating with colleagues and leadership. Dr. Erika Nurmi of UCLA illustrated challenges and successes at promoting diversity and inclusion in medical and scientific education at UCLA to provide examples to apply to ACNP and to members' place of work. Dr. Shawn McClintock showed how to infuse inclusion and diversity into the ACNP meeting programs. Finally, Dr. Sade Spencer led an interactive discussion with the audience. This study group set the stage for implementing and sustaining diversity and inclusions practices at ACNP and its members' institutions.

The Mega Impact of Microaggression: Insights and Practical Solutions

The Study Group co-Chaired by Dr. Gretchen Neigh of Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Maria Oquendo of University of Pennsylvania discussed difficulties raised by microaggressions, how implicit bias can further perpetuate the cycle and outlined ways that bystanders and victims can break the cycle. Examples of common microaggressions were discussed including those related to gender (i.e. assumptions that absent female faculty members are home with children as opposed to traveling or attending conferences), race and/or culture (i.e. asking a colleague from an underrepresented group where they are 'really from'), and heteronormative behaviors (i.e. refusing to use preferred pronouns). Dr. VJ Periyakoi from Stanford University discussed ways microaggressions occur in academic settings. Dr. Catherine Njathi-Ori of the Mayo Clinic provided specific actions that individuals can use to address microaggression as they occur. Dr. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention outlined communication strategies to change culture. Discussion after the presentations provided scenarios to help participants recognize microaggressions, appreciate their cost, and respond productively.

American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

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