Values and Code of Conduct

Our Code of Conduct is an expression of our values and how we want to act in order to prevent harm and promote belonging in this space. The Code of Conduct affirms our commitment to be a safe and welcoming space for all participants. It applies to conduct that occurs within the EqualSTEM collaboration, as well as in-person and virtual spaces where mentors and mentees interact with each other. Moreover, this Code lays out a (non-exhaustive) list of actions or behaviors that violate our core values.

Values: As scientists, we learn, teach and work in conditions produced by an inherently unequal society, which reinforce dominant social hierarchies based on caste, religion, gender, and other axes of identity. To work towards a more just and inclusive scientific community, we need to dismantle structural barriers that prevent minoritized scientists from participating and thriving in higher education in science. EqualSTEM is a space to share resources, provide mentorship, and build community among scientists and students of science with these goals and principles in mind. We expect all members of this community to hold ourselves and each other accountable to our Code of Conduct.

Expectations and Guidelines

Here are some expectations and guidelines for how we treat each other in this space, in accordance with our core values of equity and justice.

  1. Treat each other with respect: Treat each individual’s community contributions with civility. 
  2. No tolerance of discrimination: Discrimination refers to bias or prejudice resulting in denial of opportunity or unfair treatment on the basis of identity.
    1. Categories of identities include ( but are not limited to ): social position, gender identity, religious identity, caste, race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, weight, country of origin, social class, economic background, disability status, native language, appearance, or age; or structural position, for example undergraduate student, graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, or faculty, or any intersection of multiple of these different axes of identities.
    2. Specifically, no tolerance for casteism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and racism in this collaboration.
  3. Take individual accountability for harmful behavior: When called out or in for causing harm, step back and listen, and get support for doing so as needed. Seek to understand your impact, and use other spaces or wait to get support to have your good intentions seen. Express regret, seek to repair harm caused, and plan how to avoid causing harm in the future. 
  4. Take community accountability for harmful behavior: As a collaboration, we are collectively accountable for the culture within the team, and take responsibility by becoming more knowledgeable, skillful, empathetic, and willing to take action to intervene in harm and support social norms that prevent harm from being caused in the first place.
  5. No tolerance of public or private harassment: Harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following: intimidation/stalking, unwelcome sexual attention or advances, sexual attention or innuendos, inappropriate physical contact, unwanted photography/recording, epithets or slurs, microaggressions, negative stereotyping, offensive or degrading verbal comments.
  6. Refrain from bullying and intimidation: Bullying is defined as intentionally or repeatedly causing another person injury or discomfort. This can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.
  7. Refrain from making false equivalencies between harmful behavior and pointing out harmful behavior. When hearing feedback about harmful behavior, focus on the content of the feedback first, rather than the way in which the feedback is given or the discomfort or harm that this feedback may have created (e.g. tone policing).
  8. Center the more marginalized: Center and provide more resources to those with less power and access (for example STEM folks in India belonging to religious minorities and caste-oppressed communities), so that they can be heard more on par with those with more power and access.

Responding to harm

When you notice harm caused by actions contrary to this code, we encourage you to report that breach of conduct via this Google form (responses are only accessible to the organizing team of EqualSTEM). As mentioned in our Code of Conduct, in this grievance process we will focus on centering the needs of the harm-receiver, as well as folks who are not in a position of power.

  1. We recommend mediation and honest conversations between the harm-doer and the receiver, except in scenarios of extreme bigoted behavior on the part of a mentor or mentee – in that scenario we recommend ceasing the mentoring relationship.
  2. We prioritize the impact on the harm-receiver over the intent of the harm-doer, while at the same time making space for reflection and growth on the part of the harm-doer. We intend to explore the above as well as other potential paths to resolution in our grievance process.

This Code of Conduct is inspired by:

  1. Astropy and PSF Code of Conduct
  2. Criteria for Creating the Code of Conduct: Created by the Code of Conduct and Accountability Working Group (product of IDEA’s efforts), Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago 
  3. Astrobites Code of Conduct, and Ombudspersons Document & Guidelines