Perimeter has taken another step to better support and encourage diversity in physics with the appointment of its first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Specialist.
Quantum physicist and Perimeter Affiliate researcher Shohini Ghose was appointed to the part-time role this fall. It builds on her work as the Director of the Laurier Centre for Women in Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, where Ghose is also a professor of physics and computer science specialising in quantum chaos theory.
During the two-year appointment, Ghose hopes to bring about an Institute-wide discussion and analysis of diversity and equity at Perimeter, and to gather data to ascertain what is working and what is still needed.
“I am very excited about exploring that right here in PI because it is a unique institution,” she said. “If we can set examples here about building an inclusive community, that could have real impact more generally and be that shining example that hopefully others would follow.”
Gathering data will be particularly crucial, she says, which dovetails well with a broader effort to develop a Canadian version of the UK’s Athena SWAN program, which aims to advance gender equality at universities.
“Different groups face different challenges,” said Ghose. “That’s why data is really important. We don’t want to just assume things and that everybody’s doing fine. Maybe some aren’t and we should find out, and based on that we can address those issues.
“The great strength of physicists is they tend to be open to new ideas. You go look at the data, test presumptions, be skeptical, and if you don’t believe it, you prove it wrong; but at least you engage with it.”
In announcing the new position, Perimeter Director Neil Turok said he greatly looked forward to welcoming Ghose to faculty meetings, and having her expertise to help strengthen the care and mentorship offered to researchers and students.
“Shohini is expert on these matters, leading as she does the Centre for Women in Science at Laurier. She has also been recently elected as Vice President of the Canadian Association of Physics,” he said.
“We are most fortunate to have her in our community and hope she will help us towards our goal of creating an exceptionally supportive and respectful environment for everyone who works here.”