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Promoting an Inclusive Lab Culture through Custom In-Person Trainings within an Engineering Department

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35102

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35102

Download Count

12

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Paper Authors

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Lisa R. Volpatti Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6197-0703

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Lisa R. Volpatti is a Ph.D. candidate in the Anderson and Langer Labs at MIT with research interests in the development of responsive materials for biomedical applications. Prior to joining MIT, Lisa received her Masters of Philosophy in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK and her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Lisa co-founded the Graduate Women in Chemical Engineering organization at MIT and is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, a Whitaker International Fellow, and an MIT Chemical Engineering Communication Lab Fellow.

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Kara Rodby Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0097-6444

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Kara Rodby is a third year PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Kara is a member of the Brushett Lab, where she researches system-level, techno-economic analysis and design of redox flow batteries for grid applications. Kara is a co-founder of the Graduate Women in Chemical Engineering group at MIT.

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Gurleen Kaur Singh Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Gurleen Kaur Singh is an Education and Prevention Specialist with the Violence Prevention & Response team.

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Bianca Kaushal Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Kelley Marie Adams Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Paula T. Hammond Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Sarah Rankin

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Abstract

Creating diverse, inclusive, and respectful environments is the #1 recommendation of the 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on “Sexual Harassment of Women” [1]. To accomplish this goal, the report suggests that academic institutions cater their training to specific populations, use qualified, in-person trainers, and instruct participants how to intervene. These recommendations motivated a chemical engineering department at a technical institute to develop a custom in-person training program in collaboration with the Title IX and Bias Response (T9BR) and the Violence Prevention and Response (VPR) offices.

The in-person trainings, entitled “Promoting a Professional and Inclusive Lab Culture,” were mandatory for all laboratory groups in the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. To promote discussion and interaction within the context of individual lab cultures, training sessions were small (~20 participants) and grouped lab members together. The trainings were facilitated by members of the T9BR and VPR offices and covered aspects of a culture (including values and beliefs, verbal expressions, and behaviors), contexts of power, methods of intervening, and resources/support. The 120-minute sessions included presentation, interactive activities, and realistic example scenarios customized to the department with the goal of promoting respectful work behavior.

Approximately 480 individuals participated in the training, representing 33 lab groups in a total of 28 sessions held over the course of 8 months. Exit survey results indicate that 95% of participants felt there was a good mix of presentation and interactivity and 93% felt that the content was neither too basic nor too advanced. In the follow-up survey, greater than 85% of respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that these trainings sent a positive message about departmental values and would recommend the trainings in other departments. We believe that custom in-person trainings such as the one described here have the potential to positively impact the culture of an engineering department.

[1] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. National Academies Press: 2018.

Volpatti, L. R., & Rodby, K., & Singh, G. K., & Kaushal, B., & Adams, K. M., & Hammond, P. T., & Rankin, S. (2020, June), Promoting an Inclusive Lab Culture through Custom In-Person Trainings within an Engineering Department Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35102

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