Our department began forming a strategic plan in 2016-17 to produce a more equitable and inclusive department. It was developed by the Equity and Inclusion Committee, which consists of faculty and staff members, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate and graduate students.
What is the current status of the plan?
The goals of the strategic plan were recently approved by the department faculty. The committee will continue to solicit feedback from our community members, as well as consult experts from Stanford and from the broader community. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas and suggestions.
What are the goals of the plan?
Under this strategic plan, Stanford Physics will: 1) develop and adopt practices to broaden participation in physics at all levels, and 2) proactively promote a culture that supports the success and well-being of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We expect that success in these goals provides a major opportunity for our department to attract and develop the most talented physicists from our community and the world, from a wide range of backgrounds and demographic groups.
These are only the broadest aims of the plan, which details actions in six areas: Department Climate and Policies, Undergraduate, Graduate, Postdoctoral Fellow & Research Associates, Faculty, and Staff. For each area, we have formulated key goals and their desired five-year outcome, with specific strategies to achieve each of those key goals.
- Department Climate & Policy Goals
- Undergraduate Goals
- Graduate Goals
- Post-Doc & Research Associate Goals
- Faculty Goals
- Staff Goals
- Hire a part-time staff person or graduate student to assist with implementation of the plan.
- Continue regular meetings of E&I committee, including quarterly assessment of progress towards goals.
- Adjust focus and resource allocation in the plan as most urgent areas and effective solutions are identified.
- Report annually to the department on the progress of the E&I initiatives and status of the strategic plan.
- Create open and anonymous form for continuous feedback (recognizing that this will only get a limited subset of comments); post on E&I page and encourage undergraduate instructors to advertise. E&I committee chair will have responsibility for determining a course of action on input to the form.
- Define and collate data that is available through Stanford data sources, e.g. demographics of the department at all levels, senior exit survey, PhD exit survey.
- Compile methods to assess the qualitative aspects of "Climate" in the department and broader physics community.
- Define a department climate and occupational wellbeing survey. Administer anonymously every 3 years.
- Set up data archiving for survey data.
- Gather feedback from focus groups representative of the different groups in the department, by both career stage and identity.
- Follow up survey or interview with students who have declared physics or engineering physics majors and later changed majors, and/or taken advanced physics courses and not declared physics, to understand motivations.
- Issue a department climate report every 3 years, based on collected data, climate survey, focus groups.
- Develop mechanisms to increase the value the community places on E&I-related work, through education and incentives. We have developed shared community values and a culture that centers equity and inclusion.
- Encourage and recognize E&I-related contributions by including as an item in annual faculty reports and in annual progress reports for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. 1) Suggest via white paper to Stanford Long Range Planning Process. 2) Follow up with Dean’s office on implementation
- Encourage and recognize learning and improvements in mentoring and advising, by including as an item in annual faculty reports.
- Maintain robust E&I seminar series, with seminars occurring at least quarterly. Advertise university E&I events.
- Start E&I reading group, open to physics community.
- Establish an award for students based on impact on department community.
- Expand department support for travel funds to conferences & workshops relevant to URGs (e.g. National Society of Black Physicists, SACNAS, CUWiP), and advertise and facilitate attendance both for URG community members and for faculty / staff recruiters. Consider hosting one of these conferences in next 5 years.
- Develop and maintain Department website focused on E&I Issues. Ensure that overall department website and communications are proactive in representing the diversity of the department and fostering an inclusive climate.
- Discuss E&I values as part of annual department orientation and safety training.
- Post department policies and guidelines for recruitment, hiring, and admissions on the department website & communicate to relevant committees when formed.
- Assign one member of each colloquium committee and major lecture prize committees as a the member in charge of ensuring diversity.
- Compile web page on effective recruitment practices for colloquium, workshops & seminars. Send reminder emails to organizers every quarter.
- Track diversity of speakers for major department events over time.
- Clarify procedures for reporting harassment or other issues leading to an unwelcoming climate. Make sure these procedures are publicly posted and easily accessible to the community. Work to develop climate to ensure these issues can be reported without fear of retaliation.
- Compile and publicly post resources for building effective mentoring relationships.
- Find or create, and advertise, a list of physical, mental, and emotional well-being resources across campus. Establish a faculty or staff member as a point of contact for questions on these resources.
- Update the structure of bathrooms so that each building has at least one all-gender option; include signage indicating location of all-gender bathrooms. Include at least one changing room per floor accessible to all genders. Provide a space for lactation in each building. Include necessary hygiene items, free of charge, in at least one gender-neutral bathroom per building.
- Schedule department meetings during normal business hours (M-F 9-5). Strongly recommend that faculty do the same with group research meetings or other regularly scheduled events.
- Evaluate barriers to accessibility of department events, teaching, and research. Identify and address new accessibility concerns as they arise.
- Reach out to Stanford alumni for a blurb on their post-Stanford experiences and career paths. Post these on the Physics Department website, and use for outreach to prospective majors (e.g., majors nights, SPS outreach, 40/60 series).
- Create effective web presence for students groups (SPS, PUWMAS, etc).
- Advertise the physics major opportunities to Leland Scholars, FLI students, and SSEA students.
- Expand the Leland Scholars Program, targeted at incoming URM/first gen students, to include a physics component, and/or develop a new physics pre-new student orientation program.
- Be proactive about Pre-Major advising: Encourage faculty and teaching staff to volunteer to be Pre-Major advisors and explicitly encourage inclusive practices for this advising; advertise physics orientation events to PMAs
- Redesign introductory physics courses, including a focus on offering paths to success in calculus-based physics sequences for students with all levels of preparedness, and ensuring an inclusive environment, and providing effective placement advice to all students interested in physics.
- Work to provide more research opportunities for students interested in pursuing a physics major with an emphasis on recruiting students from URGs.
- Investigate options for diversifying physics curriculum or requirements for the major and advertise related majors or concentrations (e.g. astrophysics, biophysics) that may attract a broader range of students.
- Work with SPS to host an inclusive event for all introductory physics students - "How to be a physics major"; advertise widely to possibly interested students. Consider other events to introduce 40 and 60 series students to each other.
- Connect with DGen office and URG student groups to discuss opportunities in physics.
- Provide the department with a statement on equity and inclusion that can be adapted for each course syllabus.
- Develop a short handout for faculty and other instructors about effective practices for inclusive teaching practices; make available to faculty and discuss at fall faculty meetings.
- Create and maintain list of resources for students who are struggling in classes (or outside of classes), and make it accessible.
- Undergraduate advising committee evaluates whether current advising procedures are meeting the needs of all students, including students from URGs, and whether faculty advisors have sufficient training and information about effective mentoring practices. Make changes as needed.
- Encourage and support students to further develop peer-to-peer mentoring for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups.
- Update TA training and Fall/Winter TA course in order to specifically address equity and inclusion issues.
- Encourage faculty participation in the APS National Mentoring Community, and advertise program to eligible students.
- Evaluate how undergraduate award recipients are chosen; develop more holistic criteria.
- Encourage all faculty to discuss social rules for undergraduate physics courses and research groups that specifically discourage racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other kinds of bias and put-downs, and encourage questions and discussion.
- Support an SPS-hosted physics town hall; report from town hall is provided to the department.
- Encourage student groups affiliated with the department to adopt inclusiveness as an explicit value; require this adoption to receive direct departmental support. Support development of new student groups, particularly URG student groups.
- Review accessibility and approachability of undergraduate gathering space; identify funds for recommended changes.
- Proactive recruitment of 1st year Stanford students into research, with an emphasis on bringing 40 series students and students from URGs into the summer research program, and on making sure interested students from URGs find appropriate research matches and support. Identify interested students on federal work study, who could do physics research as paid work.
- Include one-week research skills boot camp for summer research program and professional development seminars throughout the program.
- Facilitate student participation in regional conferences (e.g., APS Far West Section, AAS), including advertising and identifying opportunities for funding.
- Provide targeted advertising for TA positions to undergrads from URGs.
- Provide opportunities for exposure to a wide variety of career paths from a physics major. Outreach to URGs to participate in events that highlight these paths. Consider implementing a program similar to the graduate program NOMS.
- Ensure that students are aware of existence of waivers of application fees for graduate programs and identify funds to support undergraduate students from low-income backgrounds to apply to graduate school.
- Encourage faculty to develop connections with faculty at institutions with higher fractions of students from URGs, including MSIs, HBCUs, women’s colleges. Email department chairs at key institutions to advertise summer research programs and encourage graduate applications.
- Encourage faculty to give seminars including information about the graduate program when visiting other institutions; targeting URGs where appropriate. Develop standard materials for these seminars.
- Apply to become a member institution of the APS Bridge program (*Note this is different from starting a bridge program), to affirm our intention to continue working towards improving diversity in the physics community.
- Update Stanford's "Female Friendly" page on the APS website on Assessing Graduate Programs, and publicize it when recruiting.
- Publicize our Equity & Inclusion website when recruiting graduate students.
- Advertise, recruit, and expand capacity for summer research programs for undergraduates from URGs (CAMPARE, SR-EIP/Leadership Alliance, SULI). Provide supportive mentoring for students who participate.
- Evaluate effectiveness of summer research opportunities for external students (e.g. CAMPARE, SR-EIP/Leadership Alliance) by surveying participants and faculty. Track student trajectories over time. Identify ways to continue engagement and support student participants.
- Review graduate admission webpages for wording or policy changes that could make the process more inclusive, including reviewing fee waiver process.
- Advertise existing opportunities/placement services for partners of prospective students when students are admitted.
- Identify members of the admissions committee to serve as an E&I sub-committee, that ensures that issues of equity and inclusion are discussed in the context of admissions at each meeting.
- Provide training for admissions committee members so that they may recognize and account for their own unconscious biases. Evaluate effectiveness of the training.
- Update language on Physics webpage to encourage applicants to add information about their contributions to diversifying the graduate population; use this information proactively as one element in admissions decisions. Encourage H&S to evaluate diversity language in the graduate application process and make diversity statement mandatory.
- Develop and evaluate holistic admissions procedures. Evaluate the role of the GRE in graduate admissions and evaluate removing the GRE and Physics GRE as methods of judgment for admissions given demonstrated biases; consider making optional. Pilot an interview-based application admissions system for some subfields. Experiment with the blinding GRE scores in evaluating candidates.
- Create a rubric reflecting the goals of the graduate program to be used in the admissions procedure.
- Review the structure of the prospective grad student visit and implement effective practices for making the department and school feel like a welcoming place to people of different backgrounds and interests.
- Review and implement recommended practices for contacting prospective students of different backgrounds and interests.
- Evaluate the number and amounts of graduate fellowships awarded, as well as the spectrum of students they are going to. Provide H&S with data that supports prioritizing funding in this area, specifically aimed at efforts to fund students who will diversify our graduate population; supplement with Department funds where needed.
- Require students and advisors to meet at least once per year to review a set of questions pertaining to degree advancement.
- Provide resources on recommended mentoring practices for both students and advisors.
- Establish a peer counseling group to provide specific advice on Stanford mental wellness resources.
- Evaluate if Ph.D. program milestones are working as intended to help students progress towards a Ph.D.; review accessibility of information and enforcement. Review students starting their 6th year annually.
- Advertise resources for dealing with advisor conflicts, or other conflicts within a research group.
- Revise policies and procedures pertaining to Physics students whose advisor is in a different department. This could include re-emphasising the role of an engaged secondary advisor from the the Physics department, and ensuring that non-physics advisors are aware of departmental PhD policies and expectations (including E&I).
- Continue funding graduate student happy hour. Also provide alcohol-free alternatives.
- Implement required Equity and Inclusion training for all incoming graduate students, and required periodic renewals.
- Implement mentorship training for graduate students who mentor undergraduates.
- Review the structure of orientation week social events and implement practices for making the department and school feel like a welcoming place to people of different backgrounds and interests.
- Specify a space for physics graduate students to gather, study, and work together. Ensure it is open and welcoming to all members of the graduate class.
- Evaluate ways to include off-campus students in campus events and make them more accessible. Emphasize that partners are also welcome.
- Work with GSAPP to host two annual town halls for graduate students; one with graduate students only; one with members of pertinent faculty committees are in attendance. Produce well-defined plan of action based on what is learned.
- Develop a study group program/department culture that encourages students to study together and to not exclude others.
- Specify the role of initial faculty mentors for incoming graduate students, and lay out a list of responsibilities and recommendations.
- Specify the role of initial graduate student mentors for incoming graduate students, and lay out a list of responsibilities and recommendations.
- Compile list of all ongoing seminars, outreach opportunities, journal clubs, etc. Keep the list updated in an accessible place.
- Advertise post-degree career planning and placement services and encourage students to use them.
- Pilot a program for postdocs to mentor graduate students.
- Advertise funding opportunities for graduate student research, travel, and summer schools.
- Semi-annual event on possible career paths, featuring former postdocs or graduate students (e.g. teaching at various levels, including teaching-focused institutions; government roles, data science; analysis, policy, and consulting; entrepreneurship, ...)
- Survey faculty about their advertising and hiring practices.
- Train faculty about inclusive job ad wording and recruitment for postdoctoral fellows. Create document highlighting these strategies and post publicly.
- Require that all Department postdoc and RA jobs are advertised in open fora such as the AAS or APS register, and on at least one national diversity-oriented listserv (such as NSF-AGEP).
- Advertise (internally & externally) and utilize California Alliance postdoc fellowships and graduate student visits; proactively identify research mentors for eligible students/postdocs.
- Propose and publicly post departmental standards for salary and moving/startup packages for postdocs. Provide information on housing, and create postdoc internal wiki for helping each other find housing/childcare and other resources.
- Create additional department/institute fellowships, with emphasis on broad searches and diverse candidate pools.
- Create and post template rubrics for evaluating postdoctoral candidates.
- Create a secure, centralized department repository for all PD&RA hiring and salary information.
- Collect applicant information for all department PD&RA hires and encourage similar collection for hires in affiliated independent institutes.
- Work with HR to identify a way to get feedback from those who declined offers about why they did or did not accept a position.
- Create and publicly post guidance for faculty about how and when to raise issue of partner hires.
- Consolidate guidance for equitable hiring into a single concise document.
- Compile and maintain a list of postdoc resources (e.g. postdoc assistance program)
- Create committee for PD&RA affairs consisting of faculty members with a responsibility for the well-being of PDs and RAs. This committee should serve as a point of contact for PDs & RAs to find information and resources and a safe avenue to report concerns independently of their PI. The committee should be responsive to trends in the issues PDs and RAs encounter and raise these to departmental attention.
- Create website with everyone's name, photo, office location/number, email, office phone, including both department and affiliated institute postdocs.
- Create an exit survey for all postdocs, requesting feedback about job satisfaction and future plans.
- Assess mentoring programs and determine mechanism such that each PD&RA has availability of alternative mentoring and advising from primary advisor
- Require use of Stanford Individual Development Plan annually for all PDs (e.g. yearly reminder emails).
- Implement a mandatory feedback mechanism by which PDs & RAs inform the PD&RA Affairs Committee (see above) of their well-being independently of their PI. PD&RA Affairs Committee follows up with negative and null responses to facilitate support.
- Organize quarterly PD&RA events (e.g. lunch, …), and occasional social events (rotating types) such as lunches, happy hours, hikes, movies
- Create an opt-out PD&RA email list for entire department.
- Facilitate internal networking with an annual "internal symposium" where department members at all levels are encouraged to give flash talks.
- Advertise Stanford resources (VPGE, BEAM, D School, VPTL, WISE Ventures, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs etc.) on postdoc information website and by email to incoming postdocs.
- Create and maintain a list of PD&RA alumni and their current positions in order to facilitate networking, normalize "alternative" careers, and aid recruitment. Organize/fund regular event with alumni.
- Identify funding to pay for attendance at workshops and conferences aimed at professional development, skill building, and networking.
- Provide training for faculty on inclusive teaching practices, including VPTL seminars for faculty and compilation of resources on effective strategies
- Provide training for faculty on inclusive management and advising practices, including how to foster an inclusive group climate and understand mechanisms of marginalization.
- Provide training for faculty on unconscious bias and strategies to mitigate bias in hiring practices.
- Require faculty applicants to include a statement about diversity in their application, include this as a metric in the hiring process.
- Have at least one member of E&I committee meet with candidates
- Produce a documented set of inclusivity recommendations for future searches, including but not limited to the following:
- Include 6-10 well-structured remote interviews in December to define the final shortlist.
- Require search committees to be trained on inclusive hiring practices.
- Develop mechanism for input from postdoctoral fellows and students to search committees decisions.
- Check language of ads to make sure they use inclusive language and fully emphasize diversity, using best practices from VPFDD; for example including language about “teaching and mentoring a diverse undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral student population.”
- Identify individual PhD/postdocs/faculties from URGs who are potential future applicants or targets, both generally and for approved searches. Include outreach to individual colleagues, department chairs, leaders of institutes and collaborations for suggestions.
- Increase the fraction of searches / hires that are early-career and broad-area
- Discuss with H&S how to increase diversity in recruitments (additional billet allocations, improved practices for partner hires; cluster hires, joint appointments, targets of opportunity)
- Include standardized information about Stanford dual career and family-friendly policies and other benefits during visits, including effectively connecting candidates to HR resources.
- Include meetings with E&I committee members or appropriate selectees during recruitment visits
- Evaluate compensation and resources among demographic groups.
- Codify faculty mentoring procedures with departmental documentation and ensure new hires are assigned a mentor or mentoring team.
- Develop information packets on graduate student advising, administrative procedures, undergraduate teaching, etc.
- Review procedures for encouraging award nominations for faculty, with attention to URGs.
- Make sure committee responsibilities are distributed equally to avoid ‘cultural taxation’, or otherwise compensate and recognize faculty from URGs who do additional work.
- Identify ways to build community among younger/newer faculty
- Identify qualified faculty from URGs for leadership positions
- Develop and maintain decision making processes in the department that take views from all faculty members into account
- Ensure that staff are actively involved and engaged in E&I matters within the department.
- Provide training for management and staff on inclusive management & advising practices, including how to foster an inclusive climate.
- Provide mentoring and development of staff, including guidance on career development, in an equitable and inclusive manner.
- Implement weekly briefing to share with other team members on what each is working on. This is a great way to support each other in problem solving and sharpening communication/leadership skills.
- All job descriptions use inclusive language; jobs are advertised on widely distributed open forum employment sites and broadly within Stanford. Actively identify and encourage applicants from URGs.
- Train interviewers on E&I issues and unconscious bias and its impact in working and communicating with students, faculty and colleagues.
- Follow up on declined offers to understand why they are declined.
- Review department policies and job duties relevant to E&I issues.
- Develop mechanisms to recognize outstanding efforts and achievements of staff.
- Define and document clear career promotion/reclassification pathways.
- Evaluate salary, distribution of job duties, and support as a function of demographic groups.
- DGen Office: Diversity & First Gen Office
- E&I: equity and inclusion
- GRE: Graduate Record Exam
- GSAPP: Graduate Students of Applied Physics and Physics
- H&S: School of Humanities and Sciences
- IR&DS: Institutional Research & Decision Support
- PD&RA: postdocs and research assistants
- PMA: pre-major advisor
- PUWMAS: Physics Undergraduate Women and gender Minorities At Stanford
- SPS: Society of Physics Students
- TA: teaching assistant
- URG: underrepresented groups
- URM: underrepresented minority
- VPFDD: Vice Provost for Faculty Development & Diversity
Five-year outcome: We have a well-maintained plan to continuously improve E&I for the entire department.
Five-year outcome: We have developed informed strategies for department climate improvement and can effectively track changes in climate and demographics over time.
Five-year outcome: Faculty, students and staff are empowered to articulate values of equity and inclusion, act in concordance with those values, and know how to address problems they observe or personally encounter.
Five-year outcome: Barriers to accessibility are evaluated and mitigated.
Recruit undergraduates from all groups in the Stanford community by reaching out to underrepresented populations, presenting physics and engineering physics as an attractive major with a range of interesting post-graduate career options, and developing appropriate academic pathways for students with differing amounts of prior experience with physics.
Five-year outcome: An increased percentage of URGs who are considering physics or engineering physics decide to declare. Students who had not previously considered physics or engineering physics are attracted to the major.
Five-year outcome: Undergraduate students report that they feel capable of completing a physics major, and they feel adequately supported while doing so.
Five-year outcome: Undergraduate students report that the Physics Department has an inclusive climate, in which they feel they are able to thrive.
Five-year outcome: Undergraduate students report increased readiness for a wide variety of post-graduation options.
Five-year outcome: An increased number of students from URGs apply to the Stanford physics graduate program.
Five-year outcome: Graduate admissions outcomes are connected to key goals of the department in graduate education and training. An increased percentage of graduate students that are accepted to Stanford are from URGs.
Five-year outcome: The percentage yield of admitted students is similar across demographic groups.
Five-year outcome: Students report that they feel supported by the department and their advisors, and disparities between demographic groups that leave the field or do not complete a degree are eliminated.
Five-year outcome: Graduate students report that the Physics Department has an inclusive environment in which they are able to thrive.
Five-year outcome: Graduate students report increased readiness for post-career options near the end of their graduate careers, and report being supported in their career choices.
Five-year outcome: Faculty are trained in equitable recruitment and implement recommended practices. The applicant pool includes a greater proportion of URGs.
Five-year outcome: Faculty are trained in equitable application evaluation and implement these practices. URG applicants are hired at least at parity with their representation in the applicant pool.
Five-year outcome: PD&RA are engaged in the life of the department and make connections outside their groups and subfields. PD&RA report that the Physics Department has an inclusive and supportive climate that allows them to thrive. Fewer PD&RA report leaving the field due to lack of a supportive environment.
Five-year outcome: PD&RA report increased readiness for academic and non-academic career options near the end of their appointment.
Five-year outcome: Faculty are able to articulate the value of equity and inclusion to the department’s mission, are aware of research on effective practices for equity and inclusion in teaching, mentoring, and hiring, and committed to implementing these practices.
Five-year outcome: Significant change in the demographics of offers to new faculty.
Five-year outcome: The department is successful in hiring and supporting the needs of new faculty, especially those who will contribute to faculty diversity. Tenure and retention of faculty from URGs is representative of the department as a whole and does not result in sustained inequities in salaries or resources between demographic groups.
Five-year outcome: Faculty at all levels report an environment that facilitates their success, without disparity in the experiences of URG and non-URG faculty.
Five-year outcome: All faculty, including junior faculty and faculty from URGs, report having a voice in department affairs, and report a climate supportive of their needs (e.g., work/life, other) and scientific recognition and success.
Five-year outcome: Staff and management are aware of effective practices for equity and inclusion in administrative processes, advising, teaching, mentoring, hiring, and informal interactions and committed to implementing these practices.
Five-year outcome: Achieve a staff workforce that is diverse and inclusive and from a wide range of backgrounds.
Five-year outcome: Establish an environment where staff excel in their area of responsibilities and working as a team. Staff feel that they belong in this workplace and are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Note: The term URG includes those marginalized by race, ethnicity, age, color, disability, faith, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, under-resourced backgrounds, and all other identities represented in our community; the more specific term URM refers to African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American members of our community.