A Note on Diversity and Inclusion

In these uncertain times, we send a message of unity and continued allegiance to the principles of diversity and inclusion in the field of psychology and in the Psychonomic Society.

We have seen respect for women, racial and ethnic minorities as well as religious groups come under siege.  We do not know what the consequences of this shift will be. We have even seen the unshakable foundation of our discipline—the quest for and the respect for truth—come under assault.

In the face of this uncertainty it is of the utmost importance that we, as a discipline, persist in our efforts to increase diversity and tolerance in our own field, and continue to lobby for justice and equality.

Cognitive psychology, with its emphasis on human perception, memory, language, decision making, reasoning, and cognition, is a field for everyone.  We endeavor to uncover deep cognitive principles, in part, simply for the joy of understanding ourselves and our world better.  The findings in our field benefit people. All people.  Our results and discoveries underlie advances that are being made in areas of application spanning a great range, from neurological diseases to education.  Cognitive research is not only a fascinating endeavor in its own right, but our research has already benefitted, and will continue to benefit all people, including, pointedly, those in most need.

We have made some progress in our quest for diversity and inclusion.  The gender gap in the field of psychology in general and in cognitive psychology in particular—the domain of the Psychonomic Society—is closing.  But there is still a hole in the pipeline: Although women graduate from their doctoral studies at roughly the same rate as men, too many drop out once they have their degree.

The dropout is disproportionate at the assistant professor level (perhaps from lack of support and encouragement and awareness of their life circumstances at this early career stage).  Although representation in the field is becoming more equal, representation of women at the very top is still rare.  And although some societies, such as our own Psychonomic Society, have approximately equal representation for men and women on the governing board, this is not the case for our journals. The editors and editorial boards, even of the Psychonomic journals, are dominated by men.  We need to renew our efforts.

Our track record with other under-represented groups is not as good as it is for women.  We need to dramatically increase our efforts with recruiting, retaining, and supporting minorities.  The Psychonomic Society is taking steps to actively encourage participation—providing travel fellowships for members of underrepresented minorities, hosting networking meetings, and encouraging nominations to fellowship status, to editorial boards, and to the governing board.  Although there have been some gains in the openness of our field to LGBT and underrepresented minorities, we all need to push even harder.   In this time of uncertainty, we all want the Psychonomic Society to be a sanctuary.  We restate our commitment, and we renew our efforts to work for a just discipline, and for justice and equality in our society.

Janet Metcalfe is Past Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Psychonomic Society

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