Building On The Past For The Future
Building on last year's work of tackling the inclusivity aspect of an iGEM team, we decided to expand it to encompass diversity and inclusion. With a large iGEM team of 30 individuals, diversity & inclusivity is important to us because it encourages a respectful environment and promotes team members to speak freely about their ideas and opinions. We strongly believe that collaboration is a pivotal part for the success of our project in all subdivisions, whether it be in the hardware subteam, social media and design subteam, etc.
Upholding Inclusion and Diversity Within Our Team
Code of Conduct
As team composition and leadership roles typically change from year to year, it is important to keep on building on our previous work. For that reason, we decided to continue to revise our Code of Conduct to ensure that it remained. effective and relevant.
Anonymous Feedback Form
Thanks to continous research, we realized that when feedback is not anonymous, there is the possibility that team members might struggle significantly in speaking their mind about certain issues. Our anonymous feedback form allowed all team members to express themselves freely and to provide valuable insights. The form let everyone on the team provide constructive observations without the fear of being singled out. We believe that if only non-anonymous feedback channels are permitted, then there is the risk that important issues are left unresolved.
In addition, if the more pressing or controversial issues are not addressed as soon as possible, groups risk cultivating unhealthy team dynamics. By incorporating the use of an anonymous feedback form, we brought the attention directly to the issue at hand rather than to the team member who provided the feedback itself.
The form also allowed us to build team trust. Research has shown that team members may perceive a forced non-anonymity as a lack of trust the team leaders hold in them. By providing an anonymous feedback channel, leadership demonstrated that everyoneâ€™s opinion is valid and important.
Figure 8: Anonymous Feedback Form
Supporting Women In STEM
The Women In STEM Diversity & Inclusion Workshop
Last year, we organized an Inclusion workshop - talk about how we expanded this year! For this year's Diversity & Inclusion workshop we collaborated with the iGEM ULaval (Canada), iGEM Patras (Greece) and iGEM Thessaloniki (Greece) teams to create a fun and interactive event that captured the participants' attention. We organized meetings when needed and communicated via Slack. Each team sent representatives to co-create and co-host the workshop.
iGEM Concordia, ULaval, Thessaloniki, Patras and After iGEM WiSTEM collaborated together in order to produce the Women in STEM - Diversity and Inclusion Workshop and the Rosalind Chronicles. Our collaboration is very unique since it happened by chance! First, our team and ULaval were planning to hold a diversity and inclusion workshop where one team member from ULaval would present on Women's contribution in Sciences throughout history while a Concordia team member would present on how to make iGEM/research teams more diverse and inclusive. This presentation was reviewed by Dr. Eve Langelier, the Quebec Chair for Women in Science and Engineering who was so helpful in giving us resources and tips to make our presentation better.
Figure 1: The Women In STEM - Diversity and Inclusion Workshop
Additionally, we discussed a way for international teams to collaborate; by submitting a picture of a woman in STEM with a summary of their research contributions. When we posted our initiative on the iGEM collab page, we saw that iGEM teams Thessaloniki and Patras had just posted their initiative of the Rosland chronicles: the same idea as us. From here, we contacted iGEM Thessaloniki and Patras teams and asked them to combine our initiatives and invited them to Women in STEM - Diversity and Inclusion Workshop. On the day of the event, iGEM Thessaloniki presented a story about how Greek women were treated in sciences while iGEM Patras and After iGEM WiSTEM presented the Rosalind Chronicles which encouraged iGEM teams to write short biographies on women in STEM from their country that inspires them.
Featuring SynBio Leaders
Supporting Women in Synbio and in STEM in general has always been an important initiative that we take to heart. In our Diversity & Inclusion workshop, iGEM Thessaloniki presented a thoughtful story about the treatment of Greece women in the past. Moreover, ULaval has presented some motivational women in STEM from the past and present which then transitioned to the Rosalind Chronicles project to highlight the women in STEM that inspired iGEM teams around the world. Last but not least, over the past few months, we have featured many women leaders in Synthetic Biology in our series Leaders in SynBio, to celebrate their accomplishment and showcase female role models in this new field of science.
Figure 2: Women In SynBio 1
Figure 3: Women In SynBio 2
Figure 4: Women In SynBio 3
Supporting Disadvantaged Communities
Outreach and Support
In May, we partnered with various iGEM teams from across the world including: iGEM TAU (Israel), iGEM MTU (Ireland), to host a virtual after-school SynBio club for biology and Python high schools students at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwanda.
Figure 5: Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Initiative
iGEM MTU x iGEM Concordia (Canada) x iGEM BOKU-Vienna (Austria)
We produced educational content to explain to students what iGEM is, what it means to our team and how we see ourselves as members of the SynBio community. We proposed the use of the cultural icebreaker. We introduced ourselves and our project, and emphasize how Computer Science can help push the field of Synthetic Biology.
Figure 6: Teaching IGEM Skills In Africa