Yale Math Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
The Yale math department strives to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all members of its community to learn and work together. We acknowledge, welcome, and celebrate our differences, including those related to race, gender, gender identity, nationality, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, disability status, and socioeconomic status.
Since summer 2020 the department has convened a standing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) committee that meets regularly to discuss, plan, and enact change intended to make our community more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive.
In an effort to better understand the challenges facing our community, the department partnered with the Poorvu Center in 2021 to survey and collect data on the experiences of its members. The responses will inform and guide the development and prioritization of efforts to best support current and future staff, students, and faculty. We have organized these efforts around the following domains:
The mathematics department receives a considerable volume of feedback from the Yale mathematics community urging us to focus on diversity in our faculty hiring. Because of the confidential nature of this process, it is hard for us to give many details about it, even though in fact the goal of improving faculty diversity is crucial to us and influences our process at every stage. We emphasize that our efforts to improve diversity in our department are not confined to a given search but span multiple years as we work to build a knowledge base and network of diverse and excellent scholars. We will try here to give a general picture of the specific strategies that we use to further the goal of diversity.
Recently, we implemented significant curriculum revisions in the introductory math major sequence. One of the main goals of the redesign was to improve access to the math major for students from diverse mathematical backgrounds and high school preparation. We are now monitoring the new curriculum, and planning adjustments based on feedback from students, instructors, and tutors.
The department is commited to creating and supporting a diverse graduate student program. These efforts start with increased outreach, and we now host a yearly webinar for prospective applicants and send posters to over a hundred US institutions including about 15 minority-serving universities and HBCUs. In the past few years this approach has been increasingly successful, yielding incoming graduate student classes with exceptional qualifications and potential, including two women in each of the past three years.
In order to better support the graduate students in the program the department and the DGS took the following steps:
- advising guidelines were prepared and posted on the graduate program webpage. The guidelines describe the responsibilities of the faculty advisors, students and the DGS, and help the students to navigate the program.
- the Graduate student advisory committee (GSAC) has been created. It consists of and is run by students. The DGS meets with the GSAC approximately monthly.
- the department has organized lunches of graduate students with faculty, students and lecturers.
- the department has created the institution of temporary advisors for graduate students who do not yet have a thesis advisor. The purpose of a temporary advisor is to meet with students to check how they are doing, provide advice on classes to take, literature to read, and other faculty and postdocs to talk to.
- the department is committed to developing and implementing intermediate level graduate courses to provide additional structure and training in the graduate program after qualifying exams. This academic year there are six such courses being offered.
In light of its committement to continued learning and improvement, the department has hosted a number of events with the goal of raising awareness and achieving progress towards a more welcoming and inclusive community. Highlights of this series include a colloquium by Francis Su on Mathematics for Human Flourishing, a department wide forum on the climate survey results, and a standing reading group centered around DEIB topics.
For Spring 2023 the department is planning a semester-long DEIB series. This series will be headlined by a plenary colloquium from mathematician and advocate Pamela Harris on Friday April 28. Workshops for instructors led by the Poorvu Center will address inclusivity in teaching and mentoring. Additional events will be announced in the spring.
Notes from the 2021 climate survey
The 2021 climate survey reveals that the department is a diverse place: we have members at every stage of their mathematical training, from myriad backgrounds and lived experiences, and whose experiences in the department span a wide spectrum. As in any group that exhibits such diversity, the work of creating a cohesive, welcoming, and inclusive community is challenging, but it is important work that we commit ourselves to now and in the future.
As reflected in the survey, while a majority of respondents feel that the department is welcoming, supportive and respectful, there is room for improvement in each of those areas. A need for increased supportive resources was noted, as was the need for increased efforts in building and sustaining community. There were strong differences in respondent’s sense of the climate, with those from underrepresented populations feeling less included and supported. Survey responses highlighted the need for a more diverse faculty, with increased interactions among all members of the department and increased awareness of DEIB issues.