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Diversity Corner

SoAP Box: 
Division Announcements

Spring 2020

Seema L. Clifasefi, PhD


Seema L. Clifasefi, PhD

University of Washington


Happy 2020! It is an honor to serve as the Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee for Division 50. Over the past few months, we have recruited individuals to join our committee, hosted our inaugural meeting, sent out a climate survey to better understand where we are at as a Division, and begun to set our priorities for the upcoming year. 


The results of our climate survey were telling. We had a very low response rate (3%), which is important data in and of itself. Of the people that did respond, most identified as White (77%) women-identifying (67%), being in their 30s (50%), and as relatively new members with between 1-5 years of experience with Division 50 (52%). Virtually all climate categories (e.g., race, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc.) were ranked at or below average for being a positive environment for marginalized groups. Division 50 members, we have some serious work to do!


Considering these results, as well as qualitative data/suggestions from the surveys, our committee is working on honing our priorities. Some of our top priorities include: 1) retention and recruitment of under represented groups to enrich Division 50; 2) a focus on diversifying our portfolio of programming to address DEI and social justice causes, as they relate to addiction. For instance, we hope to work to add DEI criteria back to the APA scoring system for programming consideration, set future conference themes to be aligned with these issues, collaborate with other divisions that are diversity focused, allocate funds for travel awards specific to these causes, and support researchers from under represented groups; 3)Working to embed DEI focused policies into Division 50 to ensure accountability & more equitable systems (e.g., having incoming Division 50 presidential candidates speak to how they would work to address the DEI issues/recommendations put forth by this committee and the larger membership).


We acknowledge that in order to create change, we need buy in from leadership and the Division 50 community at large. We have discussed potential pitfalls that we may encounter as we work toward our goals. For example, if we are just focused on increasing topics that address diversity in research, how can we ensure that we do so in a way that allows for members from identified underrepresented groups’ voices to be elevated? Over the next several months, we will get clearer on our goals and intentions, and then work with leadership to move towards translating these stated goals/agendas into action. 


I am so grateful for all the individuals who have stepped up to collectively work toward building a more inclusive and equitable Division 50. We have an open door policy on our committee, so if you are interested in joining our efforts, please be in touch: or better yet, hop on our monthly calls. Our meetings are held by Zoom on the 4th Tuesday of each month, and our next meeting will be Tuesday, February 25th from 1:30-3pm PST. These meetings are open to any interested member and the call in information will be the same each month:; One tap mobile: +16699006833,,606735968# US (San Jose); +16465588656,,606735968# US (New York). All are welcome.  I continue to look forward to working with you all toward creating a Division 50 that we are all proud to be a part of.


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