The diversity event that I attended was the National Society of Black Engineers’ general body meeting. At this meeting, we talked about different events going on that everyone could attend that had topics that ranged from service hours and donations to the Annual Convention that the National Society of Black Engineers is attending. The main focus of this meeting, however, was African American hairstyling and what hairstyles seem more acceptable in the workplace. I enjoyed this meeting very much because of the questions that we were asked and how everyone was allowed to communicate with each other about something we all have to talk about some time. One of the questions, in particular, stuck with me. That question being “Is a job worth changing your appearance? If so, how much would you change?” This stuck with me because there does seem to be somewhat of a stereotype on what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to jobs and interviews.
Diversity and Inclusion impacts STEM in a way that is actually very important in the field. Diversity/Inclusion gives more people the opportunity to attempt to fix problems or work on things that STEM engineers may have been trying to fix for a long time. There is apparently a shortage of engineers, actually. According to bls.gov’s “STEM Crisis or STEM Surplus?” article, “Economic projections point to a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade…” This goes to show that there should actually be more diversity and inclusion if we don’t want to end up being short and not having enough people working in the STEM fields available. Regardless of this statement, however, I believe that there is enough of a focus on diversity and inclusion. At Ohio State University, there are very many different student organizations and scholarships to the point where there are too many organizations for one person to handle. There are organizations for many of the races and ethnicities that one can think of off of the top of their heads.
At this meeting/event, I did have my beliefs challenged, but it was not a hostile environment. I had no issue talking about this kind of topic, as it is a very real “issue” that should be addressed properly. In fact, having civil conversations about these kinds of topics is fun for me. Since this was a very open and accepting group environment, no one needed to hold back anything. There could always have been an argument that sparked due to someone being offended, but it did not happen, nor did the chances of it happening seem high. All of the different perspectives I learned about from other people were very civilized, and I was open to understanding why they thought that.
Overall, I feel like I learned a lot about different perspectives on the matter of diversity in the workplace. Everyone has different opinions on what is acceptable or allowed and there is no way to tell if an employer doesn’t hire you specifically because of the way you look. Of course, there’s always the possibility, but there is a decently high chance that that is not the reason why. I learned a lot about my identity, and I was given the opportunity to actually think about myself and why I think certain things.