In a webinar at the 5th Serrapilheira’s Scientific Retreat, USP Sociology professor Márcia Lima spoke about ways to include diverse profiles in science
“There is no scientific objectivity in the world that can do without the gaze of diversity.” Márcia Lima, professor of Sociology at USP and senior researcher at AFRO-CEBRAP – Nucleus for Research and Training in Race, Gender and Racial Justice, was adamant in a webinar at the 5th Serrapilheira’s Scientific Retreat held on November 19. In the talk, she put the problem in context and explained why including underrepresented groups is good for science – and for society.
Lima stated that we are experiencing a conservative wave in Brazil and in the world that is not only harming the inclusion of race, gender and sexuality in government agendas, but also challenging the role of science. The two are intertwined: the absence of diversity represents a limitation of points of view and ways of thinking. “Denying the other’s experience and diversity has an effect on how you perceive the world,” she said.
Márcia Lima was one of the specialists who participated in the conception of Serrapilheira’s “Guide to good practices in diversity in science”, which provides guidelines on how to encourage the inclusion and training of people from underrepresented groups in the scientific community. The principle is that different perspectives make science richer, and that these diverse profiles, which historically have been excluded from scientific activity, need to be welcomed in a truly effective way.
“A good way to do this is to build teams and workspaces with diverse backgrounds in terms of race, class, ethnicity,” she commented. “These looks will always bring different reflections.” One way to reduce the discriminatory effects in society is affirmative action. There are several models, such as quotas or bonuses. An example is the “diversity bonus” offered in the public calls for support for science at Serrapilheira, which provides extra resources for selected researchers to invest in ways to promote diversity in science.
Márcia Lima recalled: “There is no meritocracy if there is no equality. Meritocracy can only exist if people are looking for something under the same conditions of competition. Without this, there is no equal dispute, and then it is necessary to correct the conditions of this dispute.”
She took the opportunity to send a message both to researchers supported by the institute and to scientists in general. “Grantees, take the bonus, invest in it, pay attention to diversity. But all scientists can also create their ‘mental bonus’. Look at your classroom, see if there is a black student who is more difficult to be a protagonist and give him a voice. See if your team has diversity. Look where your racism is. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself if you’re being judgmental.”