Meeting Notes 10/05/2016

This was the first meeting of the 2016-2017 academic year, where we reset the mailing list (you have to sign up again to stay on the list each year), discussed and revised the goals of the group, and discussed a journal article about gender bias in teaching evaluations for physics teachers. The revised group goals appear in the About page. The article we discussed is titled Student evaluations of physics teachers: On the stability and persistence of gender bias by Potvin and Hazari 2016. Mary prepared a brief outline of the paper: potvinhazari2016_slides

In preparation for the Oct. 19 meeting, investigate your own implicit bias associated with gender and science by taking the Gender-Science Implicit Association Test online. It’s not meant to say anything about your beliefs or actions; it only offers some indication of how quickly you can associate men with science or liberal arts and women with science or liberal arts. Find instructions and a place to anonymously submit your result here.

Dip Meeting Notes 8/19

Hi everyone,

I apologize for the delay in writing up these meeting notes. These are the notes I took from last week’s meeting:

Notes for unconscious bias and microaggression

Orientation is 9/16

– faculty or students & male grad student in the presentation
– Rena could do it too.
– we chose students and we need one male student. Probably Gabe.
– what we want to include
-data driven
-we have the data
-crowd scene thing (Game of Thrones) video
-collaboration is important
-emphasis on colleagues. This is a new, different level of professionalism.
A few things I remember that are important to include. I’ve confirmed that Gabe wants to help with the DIP presentation during the orientation. Also, we can have more that 10 minutes, and can get up to 20 minutes. The time needed for the orientation is flexible (30 minutes can go up to an hour).

I know there are emails with relevant studies, but if anyone has anything they think is particularly relevant or wants to include, go ahead and send the email to the list.



Meeting Notes 4/28/2016

DIPS Funds:
Mary’s Nana has give our group $200 (in lieu of a wedding present for Mary). Send ideas of what you want to do with this to her.
  • something crafty?
  • It would be nice to Skype Nana into what ever we choose to do – she lives in Long Island
Discussion sections
We summarized last week for Mary:
  • Is it fair to ask for more if we aren’t taking advantage of the current resources (e.g. if you aren’t attending lecture).
  • There are many reason’s not to attend lecture – lecture is material you can get from a textbook
  • discussion sections offer the opportunity to learn problem solving techniques
  • We decided to meet with Andy without much prep to see how the admin will approach this
We decided that future discussion should occur in the subcommittee until the meeting with Andy happens, then the subcommittee and report the progress to the group.
  • Rena talked to Rachel about institutionalizing H-bar – she was unaware that TAs who were assigned to H-bar weren’t going.
    • We’ve been doubling up TAs in upper div classes with the expectation that they would be going to h-bar
    • Maybe put a 25% TA running H-bar.
  • They discussed some of the ways that H-bar is different from discussion sections
    • H-bar is mostly for people who know what’s going on – people who are really lost aren’t getting the help they need
    • Prep for H-bar is different than discussion
  • Who should lead the discussion about H-bar?
    • Rachel is feeling like she shouldn’t take the lead on the discussion sections
    • Does this make sense to be spearheaded by undergrads?
      • This is hard because they aren’t here very long
      • there has to be good transmission of data.
      •  We should think about how we can build longevity into the process
  • Mary read some PE research that supports discussion sections over lecture as being useful. She will pass this onto the sub-committee
  • How many hours of TA time can we justify with H-bar and the discussion sections?
Summer Salaries
  • We should thank the admin (who should we thank? – Tracy Lade, Angela, Rena) for the transparency in the salary information for the summer. Please send individual emails.
  • Tracy’s email is more accurate than Angela’s.
  • Rena worked with both of them to get us the most useful information
  • You have to be careful with the 9 discussion since it is quoted per discussion section rather than total salary
Exit interview
  • Azalee would like to put together a voluntary exit interview to collect statistics, anecdotes, and some institutional memory amongst grad students for the grad student process (both why people leave and what is the experience like to finish.
  • The end of the year may be when more people leave. This might be the perfect time. There are also an unusual number of grad students who may be leaving over the next 6 months.
  • It may be hard to define when someone is leaving – many grad students go on PELP (you can reenroll at any time for a year). We thought about sending an interview when someone goes on PELP and maybe following up with them a year later. This could be a box they check on the exit interview
  • Should we also do one for undergraduates?
  • Grad studies does exit interviews for students who are graduating – we this it is mostly demographic information.
  • Key questions:
    • How do we identify who is leaving?
      • Rena offered to let ask students if she could inform us of their departure.
    • How do we get in touch with them?
      • We could also give Rena the information and she could point them to the exit interview
    • Why should they trust us?
      • Concerns that students could be identified really easily, especially if we put the year they left. We decided it would be good to put a 5 year window (January to December) to help with anonymity
      • How long should we collect data or how many interview should we collect before we consider the sample large enough to make the answers anonymous?
      • It should be clear how we are going to use the data before we ask people to fill out the survey
      • We could make every question optional – only share what you are comfortable sharing
      • If we have small number statistics (which we anticipate) then we should also be collecting anecdotes. How do we make these anonymous? We could code for themes and then report the statistics on the themes.
Climate Survey:
  • women said that there weren’t enough social events and opportunities to meet people outside their year
  • men reported that they got to know each other through soccer
  • While soccer is open to everyone, it is mostly men who go (and feel comfortable going).
  • Students get to know their own year by sharing offices
  • Gabe is considering hosting a movie night. It is more gender neutral than sports and he would make an effort to include movies that appeal to both sexes.
    • It may be hard to formally find a space for this. We have to pay for any space that we use outside the physics building if we formally reserve it.
  • Is it ok to have a women’s only group?
    • Yes – Why?
      • There is a power dynamic in sexism. Excluding the more powerful group is ok.
      • Events tend to be finely tuned to the needs of the more powerful group (e.g. soccer)
      • Public space is more accessible for men – we need to foster this space for women
Report from Conner:

Meeting Notes 4/14

-Sexual Harassment Policy Change

-Davis Democratic Socialist club has contacts for further information/action on this front.

-We discussed the possible audience for this statement

-We can try and get signatures from faculty in this department

Upper Division Discussion sections

-Undergraduate Curriculum Committee is currently meeting

-Facebook page is up, will be up and running soon

-There was lots of enthusiasm for physics club upper divisions

-We could write up an “I want discussion sections because…” template in the physics club space so that people can take pictures on their own.

-Need a statement of interest

-We ultimately want to have something to present to the department.

-We could do a presentation in a faculty meeting

-Andy will schedule a meeting in the next few weeks to meet with upper division undergraduates.

-Chair of engineering dept. says discussion sections have not happened yet because it’s very complex to make a curriculum change to a course.

-H-Bar is a good interim measure, but this is a first step of a larger change.

-Undergraduate curriculum committee- we could push to allow graduate students or, better yet, undergraduate students to be on the committee.

Main topic: Colloquium

-While this was very encouraging in terms of our department’s commitment to diversity, it seemed that there was more interest in affirmations of what we do right rather than identification of places we need to improve.

-Some of the definitions and examples of microaggressions seemed confusing and conflicting.

-Do people actually say positive and welcoming things or do they think they say these things?

-Ultimately, this was not a good forum for identifying places where improvement is needed, because power dynamics can shut down the conversation.

-Is it ever possible to call for improvement from faculty given our position in the University? Saying something like “When you said this, that affected me in this way…” would give feedback about how welcoming the physics classroom environment is, but is giving that feedback always putting one at risk? Is there a way to do this anonymously?

-We could include a 1uestion on course evaluations for inclusions/diversity/feeling valued feedback.

-Do we get a realistic and honest performance review from advisers? Rarely. Can we make that possible?

-Undergraduates don’t have faculty advisers, which is unusual.

-Evaluations from the department as a separate thing just for the physics department. In coursework, someone would need to read it.

-problems: creates more work, accountability

-Evaluations: who reads them? Are they open?

-Evaluations can be read by other people.

-We may want to bring this evaluations idea up during climate survey.

-time constraints from demanding workload is mitigated by privilege and primarily negatively affect people from lower socioeconomic status

-Environmental microaggressions were discussed:

-better seats that everyone can sit in.

-better handicap access to lecture hall.

Wrap up:

-Next week: pictures taken : #DiscUpPhyiscs

-We should try to set up a physical box for anonymous discussion topics during the climate site survey.

-Amanda will look at sexual harassment statement.

Physics Colloquium 4/11/2016

Here are the slides from the presentation and the bibliography referenced during the presentation given by Binnie Singh and Mikael Villalobos on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Understanding Bias and Microaggression Physics Colloquium slides

Bibliography of Research Cited and Consulted organized by topic

Title: Understanding Bias and Microaggression
Speakers: Binnie Singh and Mikael Villalobos
Binnie Singh, Assistant Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
Mikael Villalobos, Associate Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Campus Community Relations

Abstract: Referencing the work of Chester Pierce and Derald Wing Sue, this seminar explores the concepts of bias and microaggression within the framework of multi-cultural competency development, with the goal of achieving inclusion excellence in organizations and work environments.

Members of Diversity & Inclusion in Physics were pleased to see that around fifty members of the Physics Department, including undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and faculty, attended the colloquium and engaged actively in discussion and questioning of the material presented. We hope that the conversations started during the colloquium continue in our department.

Meeting Notes 3/11/16: UC Sexual Harassment Policy

At this meeting, Rachel H. presented a powerpoint highlighting the role of sexual harassment in the sciences, detailed the UC’s new sexual harassment policy, and the potential problems with it.  Her slides can be found here. Everyone in attendance agreed that there were many issues with the new sexual harassment policy and that we, as a group, should try to do something about it.  The first step we are taking is to compose a letter outlining our concerns with the new policy.  Then we will try to get the Physics department and possibly other organizations to sign the letter in support of changing the new policy. Further notes on what was discussed with respect to the content of the Rachel’s slides can be found here.

Investing in Historically URM Scholars notes on seminar by Dr. Ruth E. Zambrana

Here are notes from the UC Davis ADVANCE Seminar today (March 14, 2016) entitled, “Investing in Historically URM Scholars: Applying Competent and Responsive Practices in Higher Education,” with Dr. Ruth E. Zambrana.

See for more information about the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at University of Maryland, where Dr. Zambrana is the Director.

Data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) between 1985 and 2015 reveal that the percentage of faculty in the United States who are Asian or Pacific Islander has doubled since 1985 while the percentage of faculty in the United States who are Black or Hispanic has only increased modestly. The percentage of faculty in the United States who are Native American has remained constant at about 0.5%. White faculty continue to be the majority, at over 70%.

Affirmative Action does not take jobs away from white candidates, as evidenced by the percentages of faculty by ethnicity following court cases such as 1978 Regents of UC vs Bakke, 2003 Grutter vs Bollinger, 2003 Gratz vs Bollinger, and 2013 Fisher vs University of Texas.

Dr. Zambrana and co-author Michelle Espino have looked at ~120 studies to find that progress (in terms of numbers of URM in faculty positions) has been modest except for majority culture women, for whom progress has been immense. Definitions of terms such as diversity, underrepresented, first generation,  and faculty of color are vague, inconsistent, and broad, yet are used abundantly and may hinder progress for URM. These vague definitions make it unclear who needs help and who is making progress.

Some of the challenges URM faculty face in tenure and promotion include:

  • unclear expectations for tenure and promotion
  • isolation, marginalization, tokenism
  • lack of mentorship
  • work life balance and stress
  • discrimination by colleagues, administrators, and students
  • institutional cultural taxation
  • undervalued research

Some recommendations for all faculty include:

  • Formalize work-life policies. This promotes equity since majority culture individuals may be more likely to socialize and set up informal arrangements with other majority culture colleagues or supervisors than minority individuals are.
  • Set clear expectations for tenure and promotion (teaching, research, service) and regularly evaluate faculty based on these expectations.
  • Recognize and reward those who carry additional service or teaching burdens (eg URM and women) with money, additional teaching assistants, keeping track of service obligations, or considering these extra burdens when it comes time to decide about tenure or promotion

The playing field is NOT level. URM faculty are “in the line of fire” in many ways, including:

  • experience overt and/or covert racism
  • are marginalized & find that their research is discredited
  • bear a tremendous burden of tokenism
  • feel obligated to represent one’s race
  • mentor and advise same-racial/ethnic students
  • suffer from negative consequences of being perceived as affirmative action hires or target-of-opportunity hires

There is racism across all aspects of identity and for all groups, but inclusivity in academia requires special attention on groups that have a history of disadvantage.

—to be continued—

Meeting Notes 2/26/2016: Graduate Student orientation and TA training

Rachel H. started this week’s meeting with a quick introduction to the graduate student union’s concerns regarding the recently implemented UC policy on mandatory reporting of sexual harassment. Email Rachel for more information or to stay informed about this issue.

Following this, we discussed the Fall graduate student orientation and TA training, which usually lasts three days. This year, 2016, it’s reduced to two days since classes will start on Wednesday instead of Thursday. The orientation already contains a 90-minute presentation from the Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program. Professor Zieve suggested the possibility of adding additional training on topics such as implicit bias and stereotype threat. Professor Zieve is actively seeking recent studies making quantitative arguments demonstrating the effects of implicit bias and stereotype threat (here).

One suggestion for a useful activity to orient new grad students to implicit bias as it pertains not only to their teaching but to their interactions with their classmates was to allow space for anonymous questions to be asked and answered by an informed panel.

Grad students identified that the TA training overwhelms all other orientation, leading to the impression that teaching duties are more important than other grad student duties, like coursework and research. We ought to make it explicit during training that this is not the case in graduate school. We also ought to include more general orientation features, such as information about Davis and common grad school experiences. Perhaps a graduate-run orientation day before the start of the term could serve this purpose.

We also discussed the varying weights that research groups put on Preliminary Exam performance. Groups that emphasize first-time passing and high scores on the Preliminary Exam may be discounting highly capable graduate students who take longer to pass the exam.

Meeting notes 2/19/2016: More work on well-being survey

Molly prepared an outline (available here) about the UC Berkeley graduate happiness and well-being  report (linked here). We learned that they did not include category titles in the survey given to respondents (for example, “Satisfaction with Life” questions would appear as a section with no title) and that survey items were not numbered. At UC Berkeley, they also entered participants into a raffle to win a giftcard as incentive to complete the survey.

The overall analysis of the information collected in the UC Berkeley survey involved finding correlations between predictors and satisfaction with life as well as between predictors and depression. For example, they found that the predictor that is the most strongly correlated with satisfaction with life and with depression was graduate students’ Career Prospects.

With our survey (as with theirs), we will be able to compare average responses between groups to check for issues disproportionately affecting members of underrepresented groups in physics. For example, does availability of social support in the Physics Department differ significantly between white students and students of color?

Finding the relationship between predictors and satisfaction or depression will also be valuable in terms of coming up with useful suggestions for changes we can make in the department to address these issues. For example, if career prospects are strongly associated with (un)happiness, we can focus our attention there first to attempt to make the greatest positive impact on the well-being of students in the Physics Department.

Once we have our results, the small committee of data analysts (to be determined) will present findings to faculty, grad students, and undergrad students so that we all know a little bit more about how we’re doing as a department.

YOU CAN HELP by drafting Physics-specific survey items and sharing them with the group (for example, items related to the preliminary or qualifying exams, physics subfields, specific classes, etc…).

Meeting Notes 2/12: Creating the Well-Being Survey

Happiness & Well-Being Survey Tasks and the person who is responsible for them

1) Format draft with all instructions for grads –Kara (and she might delegate)

2) Format draft for undergrads –Thomas

3) Find out: what are the RULES for collecting & analyzing personal data – Mary & Gabe & Rachel W.

4) Find out (from Berkeley report or contacts) how to interpret & respond to survey findings – Molly will read 1/2 and maybe more. email list to look for someone else also.

5) Print and set up online way to take survey -Conner

6) Help advertise & hold down the hot cocoa table –Rachel H.

First order of business:

-any future meeting topics?

  • Prelim
  • Mental health survey
  • -gender neutral bathrooms
  • -mentor/mentee system
  • -find contact info for those who have graduated or left Davis.


Now about surveys:

-exit interview for people who leave, particularly not by the standard pathway

-happiness & well-being report. We already have a survey from UCB as a template.

  • different categories (demographics, depression, succeeding academically)

-our version of the survey is in a shared Google Drive. If you want access to edit and don’t have it (only some of us have it right now), contact Mary.

-canvas seminars & explain mission statement/vision for survey.

  • seminars
  • colloquium
  • first & second year classes

-for rules & identification. Send it to Prof. Zieve’s contact (Lynette Temple for proofreading to make sure the survey is ethical. The ethical question is not “collecting data” but “releasing data.” These rules are complicated.

-Perhaps list who will be analyzing the information, so they know it’s not going straight to a department chair or PI.

-Notes about uniquely identified people being grouped in with at least ~10 people when the data will be presented to faculty.

-How do we pick “data analysis committee” who can see all the results? We think no faculty.

-What are we going to do with our findings? We want to present stuff to “the department.” Who is “the department?”

-Before we give out the survey: we should have an idea of what information exactly we want from the survey? What is our “motive” for asking these questions? We should make this public?

-What are our motives?

  • Generally how happy are graduate students?
  • Does happiness & well-being among graduate students vary among identification groups?

-What are our goals with respect to how strongly we want out statistics to look?

-No intention of publishing this survey in a research journal.

-we could include information from people who have graduated/left in the last 5 years

-different survey for undergrads? Combine?

-Survey-making committee?