Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity

Department of Mathematics

Strategic Plan for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity


Commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity is central to the Mathematics Department’s mission. If we are to maintain our global leadership in research and education as we head into the future, it is critical that we welcome and retain the best mathematics students, faculty, and staff. Doing so requires that we create a culture that benefits all those associated with the department by making central a uniform expectation of adherence to the values of equity, inclusion, and diversity. No student, faculty member, or staff member should be held in less esteem, be less influential, or be less able to pursue his or her goals due to characteristics such as his or her race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Aims of This Plan

Principles and Actions

Our guiding principles are articulated in the Department’s statement on Collegiality, Respect and Sensitivity.

The Department of Mathematics---faculty, staff, and students---is committed to fostering an atmosphere of respect, collegiality, and sensitivity. The study of mathematics is challenging, often emotionally as well as intellectually; even mildly inappropriate behavior can have highly detrimental effects on one’s ability to focus. The math department upholds the policies of the university regarding discrimination and harassment. But beyond that, we strive to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all, regardless of other characteristics that are irrelevant to the pursuit of mathematics, for example, size or socioeconomic status, in addition to the protected categories outlined in UC policy. In most situations, simple common sense and good judgment should suffice as guidance, but we appreciate that some questions of appropriate behavior can be more complex and subtle. Instead of focusing on this fine line, we encourage faculty, staff, and students to strive for their actions in all contexts to be genuinely respectful and supportive rather than merely appropriate. For guidance about your own behavior, or if you think you have experienced or witnessed discrimination or harassment of any kind, we urge you to seek advice and support. Any member of the faculty or staff whom you trust is an appropriate contact person, in particular the Chair and Vice Chairs, or the university resources listed below. When bringing concerns forward about discrimination or harassment, we will strive to treat these with discretion, respecting the privacy of individuals insofar as possible, but in some cases policy or law may require that department members contact an appropriate university authority.

With this plan we have identified some specific actions to implement these principles, though the list is far from exhaustive.

Annual Review

This is not a static plan. Each academic year, the Equity and Inclusion Committee (E&IC) will undertake a thorough review of our progress towards our goals, the success of the plans implemented throughout the year, and new challenges not specifically noted in the plan. E&IC will consult with the responsible parties and with the affected students and members of the staff and faculty. E&IC will report on its findings to the department and will recommend amendments to this plan.

Faculty Hiring

The Mathematics Department commits itself to the goal of diversifying its faculty and to undertaking equitable and fair searches for new members of the faculty. Below we outline some specific steps to be taken to achieve these goals and indicate who is responsible for the successful implementation of these plans.

  1. In August and September, the Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs will seek advice from members of FAC and other members of the faculty to investigate names of female and URM candidates who currently hold postdoctoral appointments in the top U.S. Mathematics departments and comparable foreign institutions, or are known to them, and who are potentially competitive for tenure-track positions. These will be encouraged to apply. (The Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs is responsible for organizing this structure.)

  2. Members of FAC will be instructed on best practices for a fair search. The Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs, in consultation with E&IC, is responsible for continuing the implementation of these practices.

  3. The Equity Advisor will attend the meetings of FAC, and be a non-voting ex-officio member. The Equity Advisor will monitor the diversity of the applicant pool throughout the search process and raise concerns as needed. The Department will support the Equity Advisor in this role.

  4. FAC will meet before any evaluation of candidates begins to discuss the Department's hiring goals and its criteria for evaluating candidates. Service to the profession and the university, including issues of access to and diversity in higher education and the academic profession will be one of the selection criteria. Ensuring that the selection criteria are adequately considered in selecting and deselecting candidates falls under the responsibility of the equity advisor to ensure a fair search.

  5. Statements on professional service, including service promoting access to and diversity in higher education and academic profession, will be required of all applicants for faculty positions. FAC will consider these statements as an integral part of the applications.

Graduate Admissions

The Mathematics Department is committed to the goal of diversifying its graduate student population, and to undertaking equitable and fair searches for new students. Below we outline some specific steps to be taken to achieve these goals and indicate who is responsible for the successful implementation of these plans.

  1. Members of the Graduate Admissions Committee (GAC) will be instructed on best practices for a fair review of applicants. (The E&IC will be responsible for identifying appropriate campus resources. The Vice-Chair for Graduate Affairs is responsible for organizing this training and discussion in the GAC.)

  2. Statements on broader impacts, e.g., service to the profession, efforts promoting diversity, equity and inclusion or volunteer community work will be considered as an informative and important part of the application. (The Graduate Vice-Chair is responsible for this item.)

  3. The GAC will report to the E&IC demographic data on the applicant pool, the pool of admitted students, and the cohort of entering students for the purposes of the annual evaluation of this action plan.

Departmental Climate

  1. The Department will make use of its colloquia and distinguished lecture series to introduce a diverse range of mathematicians to our community. (The Colloquium chair, the chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series committee, and E&IC are responsible for selecting and recruiting speakers and for taking our equity and inclusion goals into account in making these selections. The Equity Advisor is responsible for monitoring the progress. Student organizations, such as the Mathematics Graduate Student Association, the Noetherian Ring, and Unbounded Representations will be consulted for recommendations for speakers and potential candidates.)

  2. The Department will ensure that Math 375 always covers mentoring and strategies for creating an inclusive classroom. (The Graduate Vice-Chair is responsible for implementing this item. )

  3. The Department will conduct an anonymous, yearly climate survey for graduate students and postdocs to gauge the extent to which they feel welcome in the Department, are having their educational needs met by the Department, and are included in the activities of the Department. The results of this survey will be reported in the E&IC’s annual report. (This survey will be organized by E&IC.)

  4. Through the web-site and other communications with graduate students, the Department will repeatedly make it clear that all graduate students are welcome to express their views on the state of the Department to the Chair or the Vice-Chair for Graduate Affairs at any time. Efforts will be made to make the website more welcoming to potential and current graduate students. (This effort will be coordinated by the E&IC.)

Sexual Harassment

Harassment has no place in our community and is very harmful to its victims and to our community as a whole.

  1. The Department supports the implementation of a campuswide anonymous reporting system, such as Callisto (see https://www.projectcallisto.org/).

  2. Regular, in person, training on sexual harassment will be offered to all members of our department. In particular, a session of Math 375 will be devoted to sexual harassment and related issues. The Department will coordinate with the campus to make relevant training sessions available to the faculty and staff. Members of the E&IC will receive this training and be available for consultation. (The Vice Chair for Graduate Affairs will be responsible for the student orientation and Math 375. E&IC, in cooperation with the Department Chair, will be charged with the training of the faculty.)

  3. The faculty, and especially those members of the faculty charged with implementing this plan, welcome the advice of our students. At the invitation of the relevant student groups (e.g. the Mathematics Undergraduate Student Association, Mathematics Graduate Student Association, Gender Equity in the Mathematical Sciences, the Noetherian Ring, Unbounded Representation, etc.), members of the faculty, especially those specifically charged with implementing parts of this plan, will consult with students about their experiences of sexual harassment in the department. (Student groups can make such requests to the Chair of E&IC.)

  4. We recognize that we are not experts on these matters, that the campus maintains references to useful resources at http://sexualviolence.berkeley.edu/2/resources and that the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination holds the authority for investigating instance of sexual harassment.

Other Issues

The Department recognizes that there are other aspects of operations which have implications for equity and inclusion. For example, we have said nothing about classroom teaching, mentorship, or research seminars. Future iterations of this plan will be expanded to address these and other hitherto unmentioned issues. Recalling from our statement of Collegiality, Respect and Sensitivity that “we encourage faculty, staff, and students to strive for their actions in all contexts to be genuinely respectful and supportive rather than merely appropriate”, we call on all members of our community to remain mindful of this exhortation in all facets of our work and study.