APS News

Diversity Census Seeks Clearer Picture of Membership

By Michael Lucibella

The recently formed Diversity Working Group within the APS staff is putting together a "diversity census" about the APS physics community. As part of this effort, members are being asked to update their profiles to include more demographic information.

"[It's] to get a sense of where we are with diversity in regard to the APS structure," said Arlene Modeste Knowles, APS career and diversity administrator and co-chair of the committee. "We have had to work with membership to make changes to the database to collect data and do the census."

Demographic information, including gender, race, and ethnicity, has been a part of membership profiles for more than two years. However, not all members have filled out all of the information. In addition, the profile options are changing. Race and ethnicity, previously one category, is being split into two categories, so members are being asked to fill in both.

"This information will be used to analyze demographics and provide information to members, but individual information won't be shared with third parties," Modeste Knowles said.

The working group was set up in response to the APS strategic plan, and the census will provide a snapshot of the diversity of the physics community. It will look at the demographic makeup of prize and awards winners, fellows, the elected leadership, invited speakers and other groups. The committee hopes to have the census finished by spring of next year, possibly with a preliminary report ready for the February unit leadership convocation.

"Increasing the diversity within the field of physics and working to ensure we are an inclusive organization are very high priorities," said Kate Kirby, the APS executive officer.

Diversity issues have been a major focus of the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and the Committee on Minorities, and the groups will collaborate on many efforts.

"This group will be working with the existing committees," said Monica Plisch, associate director of education and diversity at APS and co-chair of the working group. "The diversity census is going to complement what the CSWP and COM is doing."

The working group is composed of ten APS employees, selected for two-year terms. Once the census is completed, the working group will also make recommendations to the APS operating officers.


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