The Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) condemns racism and police brutality in the United States, where white supremacy and oppressive policing practices threaten the lives and well-being of Black people. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Tony McDade. We mourn their murders and the thousands of lives taken by state violence and police brutality.
The white supremacy at the root of this violence is also present in the world of psychological science – it is deeply ingrained in our admissions and hiring processes, our professional incentive structures, our classrooms, our departments, and our societies. Although academia may seem far removed from police departments and political offices, SIPS members play a role in constructing the community in which we all live. If we continue with ‘business as usual,’ we will perpetually recreate a community that tacitly endorses falsehoods like:
- Science conducted by wealthy white Americans, on samples of wealthy white Americans, can serve everyone
- Teaching about psychology means focusing on contributions of white men and women
- Covert white supremacy is not a problem in academia
If we are more vigilant, we will find ourselves with many opportunities to challenge, question, and undermine those falsehoods.
SIPS was founded on the principle of continuing self-improvement. We cannot do good science without diverse voices, but right now the demographics of SIPS (which can be viewed here) are unrepresentative of the field of psychology, which is in turn unrepresentative of the global population. We have work to do when it comes to better supporting Black scholars and other underrepresented minorities. With this in mind, we are taking the following actions:
- We will partner with other societies whose mission is to increase the number of Black people and other underrepresented minorities in psychology. As a first step, some of us have applied to join the SPARK Society’s network of volunteers that will provide a “first review” for underrepresented minority trainees, giving rapid and constructive feedback on manuscripts before they are submitted to a journal.
- At this year’s conference, we will host a hackathon entitled “Attracting and Retaining Members from Regional and Racial/Ethnic Backgrounds that are Underrepresented in SIPS” with the intent of continuing an ongoing conversation about ways to address this problem. We will assign an Executive Committee member to build on this work and conduct a survey aimed at identifying barriers to involvement with SIPS and open science. (Update 6/29/20: Heather Urry is now the Executive Committee managing this effort.)
- We will introduce a new category for SIPS Mission Awards that will recognize meta-scientific work addressing inclusivity within academia (nominations can be submitted here).
- We will post this statement on our website along with this link for submitting suggestions to lengthen and improve this plan of action. We will add updates as we make progress on these items, making ourselves accountable to the SIPS community.
These are small steps in a much longer journey. Lasting change will take the same kind of careful, persistent, and collaborative work that the SIPS community has devoted to advocating for more open and reproducible science. With these steps, we express our commitment to doing this work, and to dismantling systemic racism within the SIPS community and academia.
Alexa Tullett, on behalf of the SIPS Executive Committee
Kimberly Quinn, on behalf of the SIPS Diversity Committee
This statement was written collaboratively by the following individuals (listed alphabetically):