Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton: Statement

A national organization of the size and reach of  SPSP can have tremendous influence over the direction of the discipline. As president of SPSP, I would like to take advantage of our society’s unique leverage to help diversify our discipline, and by consequence, the organization itself. SPSP can aspire to achieve, nationally, what any one program within the field cannot: to change the demographics of social and personality psychology. This is an absolutely critical goal if we are to achieve fuller representation in our journals, our conferences, and our science.

SPSP has three distinct advantages in this arena.  First, we can recruit underrepresented students nationally, at a level that no individual program or university can. This gives SPSP the ability to act as a “super-recruiter” for underrepresented students on behalf of all programs. Second, SPSP can serve as the natural hub of collective action, taking on some of the time and resource-consuming barriers to advocacy and recruitment that departments alone cannot face. Third, SPSP can serve as the “crowdfunded” space where together, we can all contribute towards a common fund to help finance such an initiative.

As president, I would build on the work of the Student Committee to launch a formal program that identifies, recruits, and gives assistance to underrepresented minority undergraduate scholars that can become the next generation of psychologists and society members. Such a program, in turn, would give SPSP a special kind of leverage. Specifically, drawing on the extensive expertise among our membership in how to create inclusive environments, we would be able to outline a set of guidelines that programs can meet to partner with SPSP in placing these scholars. Similar to the badges that have been successfully used to reinforce responsible research practices in our journals, SPSP can recognize graduate programs that meet the organization’s guidelines for creating and supporting inclusion. Such initiatives are already being successfully deployed by the American Physical Society, for example, as well as actively promoted by the AAAS.

In this way, SPSP can serve as a catalyst for real, quantifiable change in the field, playing a central role in creating and sustaining a diverse science. Furthermore, such an initiative would help address SPSP’s long-term viability by addressing a critical function in the field that no one program or university can undertake. That is the power of our society’s national reach.

I arrive at this opportunity with extensive involvement in research around diversifying graduate education, particularly in STEM fields where underrepresentation is most severe. My own scholarship is situated specifically at the nexus of prejudice, stigma, and education. Last year, I received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and have been involved in diversity efforts both nationally (including in SPSP) and locally. I also have administrative experience as Executive Associate Dean in the College of Letters and Science at Berkeley. I would be excited to bring these strengths to bear in support of a common goal for our science: inclusion.