SSHD Diversity Science Initiative

In the interest of retaining new growth in diversity exemplified in recent attendance and presentations at this years’ successful conference, the diversity science initiative was raised. Every corner of scientific endeavor embraces diversity within its intellectual confines; we would be on the forefront of doing so around lifespan and life course developmental science.  While not diverging from the stated emphasis of our organization, Diversity Science as a perspective provides new expansion and inclusiveness in intellectual inquiry by fostering an equitable and inclusive environment for all, providing a welcoming space that builds toward a comprehensive understanding of human development within SSHD.  The effort is in alignment with the broader focus and objectives of SSHD, and open to all.

Please find a link to the slides presented at the March 2021 DSI Presentation here.

What does diversity science mean?  

Citations : and from Plaut, V. C. (2010). Diversity science: Who needs it? Psychological Inquiry, 21, 168-174.

Diversity Science aims to advance theoretical and research perspectives on underrepresented minority people as well as the construction and interpretation of human differences in the behavioral sciences. Scholars study topics spanning differences and disparities in experiences and opportunities, mechanisms explaining differences and disparities, intergroup relations and conflict, social identity and social cognition, and diversity in development across the lifespan and across social contexts. Diversity Science extends behavioral science to understudied populations including racial/ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, individuals with minority sexual orientations, immigrants, and diverse socio-economic classes. This research can both test the boundaries of current theory and make new discoveries in identifying unique relational processes relevant to the experiences of minorities.

Who can be involved?  Open to SSHD membership

While this initiative is not intended to change the organization it may be in an arena that our organization has not previously engaged in open discussion. Open discussion of this nature and the initiative itself, while welcomed, can also be uncomfortable. Taking these initial steps are essential to embracing and bracing the possibilities ahead.

Directions, activities, events:

The Diversity Science Initiative is ripe with open possibilities, initial efforts may include

  1. Special RHD Issue
  2. Webinar on What is Diversity Science?
  3. Learning groups discussing how to map diversity science onto lifespan and life course perspectives
  4. Diversity scholarship award

Later on conference activities might include:

  • A study group
  • Emphasis- activity centered (breakfast, special symposiums, discussion groups) or
  • Goal oriented (i.e., publications, awards)

Our intention is to begin modestly and be open to suggestions.  We want the membership to have input in the development of this initiative and its expressions.  With this in mind, please provide us your ideas on possible efforts, and associated actions/activities.

Subcommittee: Jen Agans, Kristine Ajrouch, Mike Cunningham, Rosemarie DiBiase, Deborah Johnson, Lynn Liben, Alan Meca, Yoko Yamamoto

Results of Diversity Initiative Survey

In November 2019, the SSHD membership was polled on their views regarding a new diversity science initiative. As a result of the feedback, the Diversity Science Initiative Committee was convened. A summary of the survey results is presented below.

Demographics of the Survey Respondants

Total responses = 67

Percent members of SSHD = 85% (N=57); lapsed members = 9% (N=6); skipped question = 6% (N=4)

Percent female = 70% (N=47); percent male = 24% (N=16); skipped question = 6% (N=9)

Percent American Indian or Alaska Native = 2% (N=1); Asian or Asian American = 10% (N=7); Hispanic / Latinx = 8% (N=5); White = 75% (N=50); Other race = 2% (N=1). There were no Black or African American or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander respondents to this survey.

Diversity Science Feedback

Interest in Diversity Science Initiative
 FrequencyPercentValid PercentCumulative Percent
Missing 2131.3  

With regard to various proposed Diversity Science Initiative activities, the following were endorsed:

  • Discussions = 33% (N=22)
  • Collaborations = 36% (N=24)
  • Publications = 31% (N=21)
  • Networking at conference = 39% (N=26)
  • Networking virtually = 24% (N=16)
  • Other = 2% (N=1) [“Research and career development”]