Diversity Support by Mentors
The following case scenarios are to assist you in thinking how challenging conflicts or situations could be handled best when aspects of diversity are concerned in mentoring.
- Whether and how to encourage using ethnicity as a research advantage
- The role of culture in difficult communication
- How to approach issues of mood, time management, and diversity
- How to deal with discrimination of sexual orientation: exclusion from events
- How to handle discrimination of sexual orientation: inappropriate commenting
- Career mentoring for members of underrepresented groups
- Asking personal information about experiences based on gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation
- Career mentoring: the mentee feels humiliated
- Forced disclosure of sexual orientation to collaborators
- Use of languages other than English
- Are introverts disadvantaged in academia?
Diversity Support by Mentors
Whether and how to encourage using ethnicity as a strength to research
My Latino mentee, who just recently was appointed to Assistant Adjunct Faculty, submitted a K01 training grant that was unscored. The main reason given was that it was unclear how the training would be different from what he has been doing as a postdoctoral researcher on my own research projects (Note: this case was submitted by a white, male mentor). He has responded to all critiques. The research he is involved in affects minorities disproportionately and it is his stated desire to serve the underrepresented in his research effort. However, he does not want to "play the race card" in his grant application and explicitly state that he is a Latino. I believe that that is a mistake in today's funding situation. While I understand his pride ("I don't want special treatment"), I also want him to succeed as the unique person he is at UCSF and in his type of research. How can I best encourage him to use his ethnicity not as a trump card to get favorite treatment, but as a strength to his research? And should I in fact try to do so or not?
The role of culture in difficult communication
I have had to give feedback to Research Assistant or junior faculty about punctuality, not meeting deadlines, not following through on responsibilities such as data analyses, writing assignments, etc. Feedback is always difficult to give—and to take. Sometimes, though, it seems more difficult, especially when the person does not seem to respond at all. I have had wise folks say that sometimes a certain culture does not know how to apologize. For me it is not an apology that I want but a visible, verbal, and then action oriented taking of responsibility. I would like to discuss how culture may play into difficult communication when giving and receiving feedback.
How to approach issues of mood, time management, and diversity
You are a senior faculty member on the department promotions committee. One of the only Hispanic faculty members has applied for acceleration with little or no publications in the in-residence track, stating that his/her work is in the international arena and by that nature, it takes her longer to publish. She has always seemed to be rushing around, often is late to meetings, and has a "chip" on her shoulder. You have been designated to mentor her in a new direction where she might be more successful, perhaps on the clinical track or the clinical X track. Your division chief will inform her that her request for acceleration has been turned down, but you are going to be her new mentor. How would you structure your first meeting with her, and approach the issues of mood, time management, and diversity?
How to handle discrimination of sexual orientation: exclusion from events
You are the mentor of a lesbian faculty member who reports to you that the events that the Chair has at his house do not include her partner when all of the other partners are invited of the heterosexual faculty members. She has been in this long-term relationship for 20 years. She suspects it is because the Chair's wife belongs to a church which discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. She asks your advice for what to do.
How to deal with discrimination of sexual orientation: inappropriate commenting
Your mentee is a young gay man recently brought on as a junior attending. He is "out" in his private life and has spoken to you about his uncertainty about coming out to the people in his department and is feeling ill at ease as a result. He wants to be more open with his colleagues yet he relates the following story: "on rounds last week, my intern was presenting the case of a gay man who was admitted with a fever of unknown origin and a rash......the senior attending...a man very well respected in the department.....said dismissively, 'well, so you're thinking AIDS right? Do these people get anything else?' and then laughed'. There was a moment of silence and then the rest of the team laughed too.
Career mentoring for members of underrepresented groups
A Latina fellow was working with a well respected white female researcher. After working for two years with this research mentor, the fellow concluded that it was impossible to have an academic and clinical career, as well as a family. She came to these conclusions because her mentor did not do clinical work and often said it was impossible to do both well and that she intentionally waited until after her promotion to start her family. The mentee schedules a meeting with you, her new career mentor to discuss her thoughts about leaving UCSF.
Asking personal information about experiences based gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation
I have a mentee who is an African American man and medical resident whom I have known since he was a student. We have terrific mentoring relationship and open communication. I have realized however that I have made some assumptions about his future career interests based on his gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation that may not be correct. In addition, I have wondered about how much I can probe about how his identify has shaped his experiences at UCSF and in medicine—I think it would help me to be a better mentor for him but at the same time don't want to be overly intrusive into his private life.
Career mentoring: the mentee feels humiliated
An underrepresented minority (URM) junior faculty is questioning his/her future at UCSF and is meeting with you for advice and assistance. He tells you that he often feels humiliated by his mentor and that the mentor treats him as if he lacks basic knowledge. You have heard from the mentor that he has tried to engage the mentee but has been unsuccessful and wonders if the mentee is cut out for an academic career.
Forced disclosure of sexual orientation to collaborators
An openly gay mentee approaches you for advice about a research opportunity. He has been offered collaboration on a project in Uganda. The opportunity is fantastic professionally but causes high distress personally. There are strict laws in Uganda that make homosexuality punishable by prison time. It has been suggested to him that he not disclose to his Ugandan collaborators his sexual orientation or details of his long-term relationship with his male partner. He is distraught over having to decide between this rich professional opportunity and as he says "being true to himself."
Use of languages other than English
One day at an institution before I came to UCSF, a Chinese student came to my office and said that he got a warning from the Director of Graduate Studies at his department because he spoke Chinese to some Chinese students in lab. He was told that his fellowship could be taken away. I understand that students might not feel comfortable when others talk in another language they do not understand. Since there are so many different ethnic groups on campus, I would like to know if there is any general rule or penalty on use of non-English language on campus.