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SCS DEI Update

Oct. 29, 2021

Bias Busters Briefing

A quick reminder that there are two Bias Busters sessions taking place on Zoom next week:

  • Monday, Nov. 1, 3-4:30 p.m. (Open to all SCS students, staff and faculty.)
  • Friday, Nov. 5, 3-4:30 p.m. (SCS staff only.)

After you sign up for a session, you’ll be sent a calendar invite with more details and the Zoom link for the session.

In today’s briefing, we will focus on microaggressions, which are behavioral manifestations of unconscious biases. The concept of microaggressions, first introduced by psychiatrist Chester Pierce in the 1970s and later expanded upon by psychologist Derald Sue and colleagues, refers to the "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership." They represent the ways that unconscious biases and stereotypes can seep into our behaviors — the language we use, the assumptions we make about others, the questions we ask, etc. — and often take the form of unintended and/or unrecognized exclusions, slights or insults.

The prefix micro describes the often subtle nature of these interactions. They can be difficult to recognize if we’re not the ones targeted by them (or, indeed, the ones exhibiting them). However, the impact that experiences with microaggressions can have is anything but small. Over time, microaggressions can have a cumulating, profound effect on individuals' self-esteem, depression, anxiety and even physical health. They create toxic environments that exacerbate inequities and threats to inclusion and belonging.

There’s no single solution to counteract microaggression — the most effective ways to respond to them depend largely on who’s involved and the relationship between them, how safe it would be to point out the microaggression, how much support one has from allies and advocates in the situation, etc. But experts agree that promoting norms of openness, courage and grace in having constructive conversations about microaggressions can help to disarm them when they occur and help to build more inclusive, empathetic environments. Likewise, research on coping with microaggressions shows the value of seeking social support from others in our networks and communities, practicing self-care, and building on our inner reserves of strength and resilience to resist microaggressions.

Announcements

NSF CISE Core Program solicitations for this year include updates to BPC Plan Requirements. On behalf of SCS, the DEI Office will undertake the appropriate training to update SCS's verified BPC plan and keep faculty and business administrators updated. Stay tuned for more updates, and read about the changes on the BPCnet Research Portal.

André Brock, associate professor of Media Studies at Georgia Tech, will be the next speaker in Microsoft’s Race and Technology Series. Learn more and register on Microsoft's website.

The DEI Team
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/dei/
SCS-dei@cs.cmu.edu