The CTA’s Commitment to Diversity
Key CTA Cultural Value: Physics and astronomy are for everyone.
Diversity Statement: The LANL Center for Theoretical Astrophysics is committed to building and maintaining a supportive experience for all who participate. The CTA exists as a collection of people with many distinct life experiences, identities, and perspectives. The inclusion and participation of the breadth of human experience within our community is vitally important to the health and well-being of the scientific enterprise. Empirical evidence shows that diverse perspectives lead to better solutions to problems, better decision-making, and better outcomes. Moreover, discrimination, exclusion, and inequity are ethically wrong and damaging, both to those affected and to the scientific community, squandering precious talent.
Everyone is welcome in our community. This includes but is not limited to people of all: gender identities, gender expressions, sexual and romantic orientations, veteran statuses, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and political affiliations
We are aware of intersectionality. A common pitfall in astronomy diversity efforts is to focus on a single dimension of identity. This approach leaves behind, for example, women of color who are impacted by the intersection of racism and sexism, bisexual native Americans who are impacted by the intersection of homophobia and racism, or black trans people who are impacted by the intersection of racism and transphobia. It is necessary to take a multidimensional approach.
Being true to these ideals requires regular and renewed action. Safe, inclusive, and harassment-free environments don’t just happen. They are created by the day-to-day interactions we all have with each other. We discuss below examples of the way we endeavor to conduct ourselves.
First and foremost, we follow all LANL ethics and workplace guidelines and the LANL code of conduct. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind is unacceptable. Such behavior will be brought to the attention of the appropriate LANL personnel as per Policy P721. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking. Avoid making inappropriate actions or statements based on characteristics such as age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, or educational background.
The following are examples of behavior aligned with our values. We encourage members and visitors to act accordingly.
· We share a collaborative spirit. Although we often must, for example, compete for funding, we are fundamentally collaborators. When we help each other succeed, we all succeed.
· We work towards positive outcomes. Our goal is not to punish or harm. Rather it is to build and sustain an inclusive community.
· We recognize that intent ≠ impact. We can generally assume that nearly all of us have good intentions. However, sometimes we end up saying or doing something that is unnecessarily damaging even when we have good intentions.
· We engage in continuous learning. We are always open to the idea that we may be wrong. We seek out new resources both on science and astronomy and on how to be better people. We acknowledge our errors when they are brought to our attention. And when we err, we take it as an opportunity to self-reflect and self-improve.
· We discuss the message, not the messenger. We focus discussion and commentary on what is being spoken, not who is speaking. For example, identifying a statement as racist, rather than the person making the statement.
· Oops, ouch. Part of having these conversations is messing up. If you say something that is hurtful or problematic, you can say “oops” to acknowledge it and then try again. Alternatively, if someone else said something hurtful or problematic, then you can say “ouch” which serves as a marker that there is something that needs further reflection.
· We return when needed. Sometimes we don’t realize that a hurtful thing has been said by ourselves or others until later. It’s okay to revisit a topic or discussion if needed.
· We respect the pronouns of others. We actively work to make sure that our non-binary and transgender colleagues are sufficiently respected in all aspects of their identity, including the ways in which we refer to them.
· We share the air. If we have been dominating the discussion or participating disproportionately, we make space for our colleagues to share their thoughts. We ensure that our members know they are free to speak up if they have something to say.
· We are aware that there are power dynamics in the room. We encourage our members to challenge authorities, ask difficult questions, and engage in stimulating discussions. Science thrives on contradictions. Unfortunately, members of historically overrepresented groups often dominate discussions. We ask ourselves: Who is talking the most? Who is asking the most questions?
· We speak to our own experience. Using “I” or “we” statements (as appropriate) often helps with avoiding generalizations. This practice also mitigates the risk of assuming we know another’s experience and, e.g., explaining to them their own oppressions they face. Rather than assuming other’s experiences, we seek to learn them. Language is a means to communicate our experiences, not erect artificial boundaries.
Our values serve our community not the other way around. As such, this text is living document. It is intended as a conversation, not an ultimatum. We encourage anyone with concerns to bring them forward for discussion.
Our diversity statement is adapted from the AIP statement on diversity. Examples of behavior aligned with our values are adapted from the Inclusive Astronomy and Advancing Theoretical Astrophysics summer schools. Some material is also adapted from the Weecology lab code of conduct. This text is the result of the hard work of many people, including but not limited to Jedidah Isler, Nicole Lloyd-Ronning, Jonah Miller, and C.J. Bacino.
This document is approved for unlimited release under LA-UR-20-25868.