Diversity Nominating Collective

Dear scientist,

Thank you for taking an interest in the Diversity Nominating Collective (DiNC). I have launched this effort because I am concerned about the representation of women and minorities within my professional society, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

My initial effort -- which I hope you will join -- is to increase the number of women and minorities nominated to be SIAM fellows. If you are unfamiliar with the SIAM fellows program, you can read about it here. If you want to hear my thoughts on diversity, and learn a little bit about how I arrived at the point of organizing the DiNC effort, you can read this blog post and this one.

Right now (as of summer/fall, 2013) there are four easy ways to participate in the DiNC effort.

1. Suggest women and/or minority nominees by emailing their names to me. You might want to take a look at the criteria for SIAM fellowship. I will work (see #3 below) to match suggested nominees with nominators.

2. Volunteer yourself to be nominated, especially if you are a woman and/or member of an underrepresented minority group (broadly construed).

3. Volunteer to serve as the nominator for a potential nominee. You could nominate a candidate of your choice (obviously) or, if you would like to participate in DiNC but don't have a particular nominee in mind, I will match you with one of the suggested nominees on my list. It is not hard to nominate, especially if you carry out the nomination in collaboration with the nominee (which is a fairly common practice). Your responsibilities would be to:

  • Solicit a cv from the nominee,
  • Collaborate with the nominee to identify three well-respected recommenders who know enough about the nominee to write detailed letters of support (along the lines of a tenure letter),
  • Solicit the letters from the recommenders,
  • Collaborate with the nominee (or just have them write) a fellowship citation that is 50 words or less, and
  • Upload the materials to the SIAM website.

Let me emphasize that to be a nominator, you don't need to know the nominee, and in fact, you don't even need to be in the same research area as the nominee. You certainly don't need to write any official letters. All you need to do is nominate (by typing your name into a web form), and help collect the materials above. I estimate that this is one to two hours of work for the nominator (mostly emailing). I have written a template email that a nominator can send to a nominee to make first contact, to explain the process, and to engage them in a collaborative nomination. I will be happy to share this email with you if you are willing to be a nominator. Please note that nominators must be current, non-student members of SIAM. Also, nominators may nominate up to two people per year, so if you are willing to do more than one nomination, please let me know.

4. Spread this effort around by forwarding this email to some people, and/or sending them to this webpage, http://www.chadtopaz.com/dinc

I am sure that during this first year of effort, the process will be imperfect. I will be monitoring the process to find ways to make it better, and I of course welcome feedback. Also, please know that each nomination will be known only by the nominators, the nominee, the recommenders, and myself (and, of course, the SIAM fellows selection committee). I will otherwise keep private the list of the nominators and nominees involved in the DiNC effort. I think it is important to protect everyone's confidentiality as much as possible.

Let me conclude by saying that I recognize all the problems with this effort being organized by me, an approaching-middle-aged white guy who has benefitted from a system that favors those demographics. Still, on behalf of my young female and minority students, and with concern for the scientific potential that might be lost when some of them leave a field that sometimes appears to pay insufficient attention to diversity, I feel compelled to do something.

Thanks for considering participating, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Chad

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