Diversity Training: Introduction Video

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CATHY DRENNAN: So I'm Cathy Drennan. I'm a Professor of Chemistry and Biology here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I'm also an investigator and professor with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. And I just wanted to give a little introduction to the training video you're about to watch, this workshop that we've developed, that is on the topic of stereotype, stereotype threat, Why Is Criticism Unconscious Bias.

And so in this workshop you're about to see, this is the workshop that we run for teacher training at MIT, both in the biology department and in the chemistry department. So most of the people in this room are about to go on an adventure of teaching for the first time here at MIT. So I'm going to talk about the motivation for doing this workshop actually in the workshop. But let me just tell you the goals for a minute.

So we want the people who are going to be teaching our students here to know about stereotypes, know about stereotype threat, feel comfortable with terms such as wise criticism, know some of the data behind the idea that stereotype threat can actually lead to underperformance by students, and think about how do you create an environment in your classroom where every student can reach their full potential. So that's what this training is about. And we hope the students coming out the other end are going to be really excited about their classroom experience and how they're going to create this environment for every student.

So although this training is really designed for teaching assistants, we found that this material is broadly applicable. It can be used to train faculty members. It can be used to train mentors in a research laboratory. It can be used to become a better student oneself or a better mentee oneself. It's really for everyone. And it relates to everyone.

So I'm hoping at the end of watching this video, that maybe you will feel comfortable enough with this material that you might start these discussions at your home institution. So I'm going to make available to you both this workshop on videotape, all of the slides that you're about to see, a booklet with more information for you to read and exercises in it, references in it. It can be used-- people can read about this before they do a workshop. We're hoping to have this discussion just sort of spread all over the place.

And I know what some of you are thinking. It's like, no way, I cannot lead this discussion myself. But you know, that's what I used to think. And everyone can talk about these things. Sometimes it makes us feel a little uncomfortable to talk about things like stereotypes. But we can talk about them. We need to talk about them. And after watching this video, we hope that you'll be ready to start a discussion of your own.

So it's important to do this. It's an important time to be having these discussions, because there are a lot of problems in the world. And in addition to being a professor, I'm a mom of a 10-year-old. And I can tell you, I'm really worried about the planet that she's going to be inheriting. There's global warming. There's warming of oceans. There's antibiotic resistance.

We need smart people to be thinking about these problems. We need scientists to be thinking about these problems. So we need everyone who wants to be a scientist to be able to reach their full potential so that we can tackle these important problems moving forward. And that's what this training is designed to do-- start the discussion so that everyone can be in an environment where they can reach their full potential. So enjoy watching.

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