Mentor: Dr. Sonia Kang
Buzzwords like diversity and inclusion are everywhere these days, as are associated terms like equity, belonging, and allyship. But what do these terms really mean, and how are they understood by individuals and organizations? Past research has demonstrated that while these words are commonly used by organizations to signal concrete action, they are often little more than window-dressing; organizations that “talk the talk” are not “walking the walk” when it comes to making real and sustained progress on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). My lab is involved in ongoing research to explore how EDI-related language is used in organizational settings, what kinds of expectations this language creates for BIPOC applicants and employees, and how organizations define and classify various initiatives according to these terms. SROP students involved in this research would be brought up to speed on the project to date, and invited to contribute to whichever aspect of the research most piques their interest. This could include, for example, conducting individual interviews or focus groups to dig into the question of how individuals define these terms and what expectations they have for organizations that use EDI language, or conducting an audit of organizational webpages and other materials to generate a taxonomy to describe how these terms are used and what similarities and differences exist across organizations. The goal of this research is to advance our understanding of EDI-related language and its impact on individuals and organizations, with the long-term aim to inform best practices around its use.
Mentoring students is the greatest joy of my academic life. I approach mentorship from a foundation of empathy and respect, and work hard to provide a psychologically safe environment in which to learn and grow. My students are actively involved in all aspects of the research process and participate in regular lab and individual meetings. Growing up, I was always one of a few non-White kids in my school and 99% of my teachers were White. I remember learning about Nalini Ambady’s research in my intro Psychology class. The work was excellent, of course, but I was especially amazed that it was done by an Indian woman…someone just like me. Representation matters so much, and my motivation as one of the SROP organizers is to diversify the academic pipeline so that more and more students can share the experience of seeing people like them in the field in the future.