Wednesday, October 20th, is International Pronouns Day. International Pronouns Day is celebrated on the third Wednesday of October and seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. For more information about International Pronouns Day visit pronounsday.org.
Did you know, users now have the option to indicate their pronouns in their Brightspace user profiles? Brightspace user profiles are visible to anyone who shares a course with a particular user, including students, instructors, administrators, etc.
Celebrate International pronouns Day by entering your pronouns into Brightspace and invite your students to do the same.
Recently a student congratulated me on my email signature. In light of that exchange, I thought it appropriate to share the following "unsatisfactory meditation" on personal pronouns.
He, him, his. These are my pronouns. Or at least, they are the ones I've answered to all my life.
It's become a custom, recently, to let other people know your pronouns by way of introduction. You might see them in an email signature. Sometimes people label them as "gender pronouns" or "preferred pronouns" or simply "pronouns." Or they might just be sitting there next to the person's name. You can now specify your pronouns in your Zoom profile, and on certain social media sites.
This might seem odd or unnecessary the first time you see it, but in practice it's actually very helpful. If you've ever experienced confusion over what pronoun to use with a new acquaintance, well, it can be embarrassing for all parties involved.
The idea of diversity has been a popular theme in every aspect of society from sports and politics to economics and education. And, it should be. Countless studies have shown that diverse groups make better decisions and obtain better results than uniform groups. The nature of the diversity includes everything from ethnicity, gender, and the type of work performed to sexual orientation, geographic location and religion. Richard Freeman and Wei Huang specifically demonstrated this phenomenon in the area of research. Through an analysis of 2.5 million research papers, the duo revealed that papers with a more ethnically diverse group of authors were published in higher-impact journals and were cited more often than papers whose authors were of the same ethnicity.1 There are many possible reasons for this effect, but some cited by Freeman and Wei include: 1) a greater variety of perspectives addressing the problem; 2) extra effort or work put in by group members to overcome possible cultural or communication barriers; 3) exposure of the group's work to diverse networks because of the makeup of the group; and 4) exposure of the group to various tools and languages to address the problem. Despite these advantages, we, as individuals in society, tend to collaborate most with those with whom we have similarities on some level. Studies like the one conducted by Freeman and Huang provide us a glimpse of potential successes, breakthroughs and triumphs that are possible when we engage in problem-solving with diverse teams. We are called upon to use this information as an impetus to purposefully seek out collaborative relationships with those whose background, outlook, and professional and personal circles are different from our own.
1. Freeman RB, Huang W. Collaborating with People Like Me: Ethnic Co-Authorship within the U.S. Journal of Labor Economics, Special Issue on High Skill Immigration [Internet]. 2015;33 (3):S289-S318.