Inaccessible workplaces, normative departmental cultures and ’empowering’ university systems have all contributed to the continued underrepresentation and exclusion of researchers with disabilities in the geosciences, according to an article published today (Thursday, June 8). in Geosciences of nature.
The article argues that changes in both workspaces and attitudes are urgently needed if institutions are to attract, protect and retain people with disabilities.
Anya Lawrence, an early career researcher with disabilities at the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and author of the article says:
“Disabled geoscientists like me face daily barriers to getting by in academia. My goal, in writing this article, was to capture some of the common challenges faced by geoscientists with disabilities, particularly struggles that may be less obvious or less apparent on a superficial level, but are significant nonetheless. For example, I think it may be surprising to some that traditional workplace cultures, like communal coffee breaks, can actually be a source of exclusion for people with disabilities. Likewise, “feeling sorry” and showing pity for fellow disabled colleagues may sound well-intentioned, but simply serves to reinforce negative stereotypes about disability. “
The article makes a series of suggestions on how people with disabilities can be attracted, supported and retained in academic geosciences, such as academic leaders taking advice from external agencies experienced in mainstreaming inclusion on the market. workplace, while making visible commitments in favor of initiatives to hire people with disabilities. .
Anya adds: “I think there are already many examples of good practice in other sectors. The question is whether people at different levels of the academic hierarchy, from those in the most senior positions to academics “in the field” and doing research in geoscience departments, are committed to creating cultures. respectful and welcoming spaces for academics with disabilities. “
“Although I have encountered many obstacles myself, I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive supervisor and school principal, as well as my parents who face the challenge of caring every day. ‘a disabled child with great courage and great altruism. I realize that so many researchers with disabilities just don’t have that kind of close support network and are quite isolated and lonely in academia. “
Another potential initiative described in the article is increased collaborative research involving mixed groups of geoscientists with and without disabilities.
“Working with other geoscientists without disabilities or with different disabilities has been really beneficial to me not only on a personal level, but also for the research itself,” says Anya. “By working with people who have different opinions, life experiences and areas of expertise than myself, I have learned so much; I was inspired to try new analytical methods and techniques, publish my findings in media I hadn’t even heard of, and think critically about my research every step of the way – all of this didn’t would not have been possible if I had continued alone. “
“It’s also nice to feel included and valued – working with people who value my involvement and see disability as different, not deficient, means the world to me. To that end, I would like to thank the editors of Nature Geoscience , especially Dr James Super and Dr Simon Harold for being sensitive and deeply respectful in their communication and, most importantly, for inviting someone with lived experience of disability to contribute to the discussion of disability in geoscience! “
Source of the story:
Material provided by Birmingham University. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.