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Breaking Barriers and Empowering Women in STEM: Reflections from the Equity Diversity Inclusion - Anti-Racism Conference

Materials.Business Newsletter ⚙️ May 28th, 2024


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Attending the EDI-AR Conference organized by Memorial University was a transformative experience, bringing together a diverse group of students, staff, researchers, faculty, community leaders, and industry professionals from around the world. The theme of the conference, "Breaking Barriers and Empowering Women in STEM," resonated deeply with me, and I am excited to share my reflections and key takeaways.

The conference emphasized the importance of crafting a vision collaboratively, rather than imposing one. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among all stakeholders. As advocates for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (EDI-AR), we must constantly ask ourselves: does the work continue when we leave the room? This question challenges us to create sustainable changes that endure beyond our immediate presence.

One profound insight from the conference was the necessity to accept that we might lose those who are not at the center of our circles of influence. The real question is, how do we use our power and influence to be allies to the outsiders? True leadership involves asking the most excluded individuals about their unmet needs and being transparent to maintain accountability. This transparency is crucial, as it fosters trust and keeps the focus on genuine progress.

Reflecting on my own practices, I realized the unconscious importance I place on transparency and continuous improvement. As educators, we have both the right and the obligation to learn as much as we teach. Inclusion must be a continuous, collective determination by all, ensuring that everyone has the right to be present and heard. Finding supporters and creating informal networks are vital steps toward building a more inclusive environment.

The conference also highlighted the importance of effective communication. Stepping into our awareness and being ourselves is essential. We must recognize that there are no invisible disabilities, only disabilities we have not yet learned about. Being aware of our own biases is a critical step toward genuine inclusion.

One quote that encapsulates the spirit of the conference is by bell hooks: "Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, making new life and new growth possible." This quote reminds us of the transformative power of voice and the healing that comes from standing in solidarity.

I was deeply moved by the feedback I received after my presentation. One attendee shared:

"Hi Monica, I attended the May 14th EDI-AR Conference and I discovered your work. I just want to let you know what you shared was courageous and inspiring. You gave me more power to pursue my humble work in EDI at Université de Sherbrooke, Qc. I will follow you on LinkedIn for sure. Thank you again."

Such messages reaffirm the importance of our work and inspire us to continue pushing for change.

In conclusion, the EDI-AR Conference was a powerful reminder that inclusion and empowerment in STEM are ongoing journeys that require our continuous commitment, empathy, and love. Let's keep pushing boundaries, challenging biases, and fostering a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

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Industry and Leadership events on the lookout

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