The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) Diversity and Inclusion Committee was first conceived in summer of 2017, and established later that year. Here, you’ll find our mission statement, information on diversity and inclusion, what we’re working on, and contact information if you have questions, comments, or want to be involved.
To foster the inclusion, participation, and equitable treatment of members of the WDAFS without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive ability, political affiliation, or family, marital, or economic status, and further, to increase awareness of and encourage diversity and inclusion within the fisheries workforce.
- Research and identify diversity and inclusion issues and challenges within the WDAFS.
- Increase outreach, recruitment, engagement, and retention efforts with the goal of building and maintaining a membership that reflects human diversity.
- Increase the overall diversity of speakers at annual meetings.
- Increase the overall diversity of volunteers and members in leadership roles.
- Encourage an inclusive WDAFS internal culture.
- Increase awareness of mission and efforts of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and provide avenues for feedback from the community.
What is diversity? What about inclusion?
“Diversity” refers to difference. It is therefore the property of groups, not individuals. That is, groups can be diverse, but individuals cannot by themselves. There are many ways in which groups can be diverse, but here we focus mostly on differences in social identity, which include (but are not limited to) race/ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, nationality, immigration status, religion, and socioeconomic background. For us, diverse groups include individuals from across these identities. Of course, it is important to remember that people have multiple and intersecting social identities.
Inclusion takes this a step further. While diversity is about differences in a group, inclusion is about how people from across identities feel and are treated within that group. Not all diverse groups are also inclusive. Do all people feel welcome and safe? Are their diverse identities valued? Is there not only equality but equity among members? It is these additional aspects that make diverse groups also inclusive. We strive for both diversity in AFS members, and for an inclusive culture within the Society.
Why are diversity and inclusion important?
The science is clear. Diverse and inclusive groups are more creative, better at solving problems, and produce superior science. In addition, whether we are aware of it or not, we are all subject to systems of bias and stereotype, and these do impact us as scientists. Outcomes of these systems, ranging from influences on hiring practices to real consequences for an individual’s health and well-being, are increasingly well documented in the literature. WDAFS recognizes both the need to address the real impacts of systemic bias on both scientists and resulting science, as well as the tangible benefits of being a diverse and inclusive professional society.
What we’ve accomplished:
- Convened a symposium on issues related to diversity and inclusion among fisheries professionals at 2018 Western Division meeting May 21-25, 2018 in Anchorage. This included a town hall discussion, “Turning the Tide: Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in the Fisheries Profession”, as well as a special session, “Salmon Management to Salmon Stewardship”.
- Developed and launched a voluntary survey to research current membership demographics and experiences using quantitative metrics and qualitative (optional) responses. This survey went live at the annual WD meeting the end of May, and we are accepting responses until 15 July. Take the survey here [hyperlink: https://goo.gl/4BRWbD].
What we’re working on in 2018:
- Working with other AFS committees to develop a Meetings Code of Conduct for annual WDAFS meetings, and we will be advocating for updated AFS Standards of Professional Conduct.
- Developing this web page to include additional resources and reading on diversity and inclusion for Division members.
- Working with appropriate committee(s) to develop a travel award for students from underrepresented groups to attend future annual meetings.
- Working with appropriate committee(s) to create a WDAFS annual award recognizing noteworthy efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion within the fisheries profession.
- Developing a Division mentorship program and/or social event(s) at future annual meetings.
Ongoing goals (2018 and beyond):
- Establishing partnerships and alliances with tribal fisheries programs, non-profit programs, and diversity-minded organizations.
- Engaging with the Mexico Chapter and Pacific Islands Jurisdiction to increase involvement in Western Division activities.
- Actively recruiting diverse speakers for annual WDAFS meeting.
- Actively recruiting diverse volunteers and members into leadership roles.
- Collaborating with the Society, Sections, Chapters, and Subunits in efforts toward diversity and inclusion.
Interested and want to get involved? We want to hear from the community, and from any AFS WD members who want to join us! Send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org