Knowledge gains in a professional development workshop on diversity, equity, inclusion, and implicit bias in academia

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Advances in physiology education


As literature indicates, historic racism and implicit bias throughout academia have been profound metrics leading to a lack of diversity, as related to people from underrepresented groups according to race and ethnicity, among biomedical sciences graduate students in U.S. universities. Recognizing such challenges, a team of biomedical scientists and inclusivity educators developed and implemented a pilot training program within an academic health sciences center as an initial step to educate faculty and staff regarding their roles in the promotion of an inclusive academic environment, receptive to all students, including underrepresented students. The 3-h workshop included didactic modules, videos, teaching modules, and active attendee participation. Faculty and staff were presented common terminology and ways to promote the development of an inclusive and diverse academic workforce. Compared with pre-workshop, post-workshop survey results indicated a statistically significant improvement in attendee knowledge of correctly identifying definitions of "implicit bias," "status leveling," "color-blind racial attitudes," "tokenism," and "failure to differentiate." Additionally, by the end of the workshop, participants had a statistically significant increase in self-perceptions regarding the importance of improving diversity and recognizing biases and stereotypes in graduate education, knowing what to say when interacting with people from different cultures, and the ability to acknowledge bias when mentoring students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical field. This preliminary initiative was successful in the introduction of faculty and staff to the importance of fostering an inclusive academic environment and thereby developing a diverse workforce.

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