“WE ALL SHOULD KNOW THAT DIVERSITY MAKES FOR A RICH TAPESTRY, AND WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT ALL THE THREADS OF THE TAPESTRY ARE EQUAL IN VALUE NO MATTER WHAT THEIR COLOR.” – Maya Angelou
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deep inequalities within our societies as we struggle to contain its spread. In Canada, 2021 has been plagued with reports on how underprivileged communities are disproportionately affected. Worldwide, rich countries have hoarded the global vaccine supply, leaving poorer nations scrambling for leftovers. At the same time, citizens are forced to juggle between health or human rights as many fight for their livelihoods against oppressive governments.
The scientific community is by no means a mere bystander. Given our ties to healthcare and the increasing public distrust in science, it is more important than ever for scientists to ensure equity and accessibility to information and medicine for all. In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we tackle the concept of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in STEM and beyond.
We open this issue with an overview of student demographics in the Department of Immunology over the years, celebrating our achievements in advocating for EDI while highlighting key areas of improvement (p. 8). Ensuring EDI extends beyond numbers and performative allyship – we discuss how we, as part of the scientific community, can become more inclusive to minority groups (p. 20), and feature current U of T initiatives towards this goal (p. 10). Science has historically been imbued with inequity and discrimination. It is our responsibility as budding scientists to correct our forebears’ mistakes and ensure that socioeconomic inequalities (p. 30), discrimination against gender or sexual orientation (p. 16), racism (p. 28), language and color barriers (p. 34), religious differences (p. 12), and discriminatory immigration policies (p. 13) have no place in our community. True equity requires us to step out of our laboratories, and to engage with, involve, and listen to the people who are most affected by these inequalities, be that on a domestic or global scale (p. 24). Only then can we look forward to a future of international science (p. 14), where diverse voices foster creativity and innovation (p. 32) and where anyone can succeed, regardless of background (p. 27).
As always, we would like to thank our wonderful team of writers, designers, and editors for their inspirational work and thought-provoking voices. This issue includes an infographic based on survey data from current and former graduate students in the Department of Immunology – we extend our utmost thanks and appreciation to those who completed the survey. Finally, as Carolina de Amat steps down from her role as Design Director, we would like to acknowledge her relentless creativity and beautiful artwork – her designs are a tour de force and have shaped the face of IMMpress for the better. In her place, we are excited to have Kitty Liu as our new Design Director.
We hope our readers will enjoy this issue and be inspired to create a brighter future. Our extraordinary scientific advancements have allowed us to tackle the pandemic at an unprecedented pace; perhaps our shared human experience can help us build a more equitable world.