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University of Toronto


Diversity, Accessibility, and Equity

Physibility is a group that was started by graduate students: Liz Cunningham and Laura Saunders

We started Physibility in September 2019 because we saw a need for space in the Department that would allow grad students to have discussions around diversity, accessibility, and equity. A graduate degree can be isolating if you don’t feel like you belong in your department, so we aim to remove barriers that cause people to feel this way in physics and to support them in the meantime.

To support grad students who might be feeling isolated, we host a number of social events that are explicitly welcoming to traditionally underrepresented members of the physics community; everything from ice cream socials to craft nights. Our ultimate goal is to remove the need to differentiate between safer, more equitable events and regular events. This will require a lot of education and conversation among people who already feel comfortable and welcome in physics and is something that’s going to take a while.

Some steps we’ve taken to start conversations of equity in the Department include inviting Dr. MacKenzie Warren to give a workshop pointing out barriers that might be invisible to the majority of the physicists and starting a bi-weekly podcast club. Dr. Warren’s talk was well-attended and began an important conversation among all levels of the department on what we all could do to make our department more accessible. The podcast club is a recurring event which meets twice a month to discuss media related to equity, diversity, and inclusivity. This club has helped to bring similar issues as those Dr. Warren discussed into the minds of our colleagues and start folks thinking about how current events and inequities in the larger world impact us as physicists. We have been encouraged to see so many people interested in our work and hope to continue to build a more inclusive community in our department.

Liz Cunningham.jpg
Liz Cunningham
Laura Saunders.jpg
Laura Saunders