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 in Anchorage, AK. 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”.
- Conducted a voluntary survey of WD members to examine membership demographics and experiences. This survey was disseminated during the annual WD meeting at the end of May, 2018, and concluded later that summer. Preliminary review of participant’s input, including quantitative metrics and qualitative (optional) responses.
- Worked with other AFS committees to develop a Meetings Code of Conduct for annual WDAFS meetings. This Code of Conduct was approved and adopted by AFS leadership as Society policy for all AFS meetings (Society, Sections and Chapters).
- Worked with AFS Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion to revise the AFS Code of Professional Conduct. Revisions were approved and adopted by AFS leadership.
- Created an award recognizing noteworthy efforts supporting diversity and inclusion and a mentorship award for students and early career professionals to develop leadership skills in diversity and inclusion.
What we’re working on in 2020:
- Analyze survey qualitative and quantitative data and summarize within a report and/or other means (eg. infographics series) made available to WDAFS members.
- Develop and launch a web page with diversity and inclusion resources for Division members and wider AFS community.
- Advance opportunities for mentorship within the Division. This may include developing a mentorship program and/or social event(s) at future annual meetings. Gather information on desires for mentorship from WD members.
- Initiate a consistent social media presence for the Committee, to share information and engage our AFS community around increasing and celebrating our diversity.
Ongoing goals (2020 and beyond):
- Establishing partnerships and alliances with tribal fisheries programs, non-profit programs, and diversity-minded organizations.
- Engaging with Mexico and Pacific Islands Jurisdictions to increase involvement in Western Division activities.
- Develop Society-wide research on current membership demographics and experiences. Work with AFS leadership to broaden our WD survey on diversity and inclusion for dissemination to all of AFS membership.
- 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 to share information and support efforts related to diversity and inclusion.
- Providing financial assistance to support travel of underrepresented fisheries students and professionals to attend WDAFS events. Research outside funding sources (endowments, grants, foundations, etc.) for future years to ensure approved travel and other awards are self-sustaining.
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: [email protected]