How To Write A Diversity Statement

diversity statement


 

My application has a diversity statement. What should I write about?

 

The diversity statement is quickly emerging as the fifth required document of the typical graduate application, along with the CV, statement of purpose, personal statement, and writing samples. And because it’s such a new add on, few people have the foggiest idea what it’s supposed to do (including, I suspect, the requesting admissions committees themselves).
The first thing to realize is that a diversity statement can discuss any number of perspectives. It can address how you work with a diverse group of peers. It can explain how you incorporate diversity into your life and research methods. It could even elaborate on how your personal background has equipped you to handle diversity in the workplace. Beyond the every day aspects, you could write about how you plan to support diversity in some way via your research or how you have addressed diversity through your research and writing.
So this is a lot of angles to choose from, and you don’t have to choose just one. You can mix several of these elements together depending on your situation.

 

 

The thing to remember is that everyone has their own histories— places and families of origin, inspirations, trials by fire. We often hear from applicants who think they don’t offer much in the way of diversity. But no matter who you are, you’ve likely had experiences with diversity, either during college, through engagement in politics, traveling, religious epiphanies, family dynamics, etc. And the things you learned and ways you’ve changed and  interacted with the world because of these experiences is no less valuable than anyone else’s experiences.
In a diversity statement you can talk about sexual orientation, race, culture, poverty, immigration, languages, traditions, gender, nationality, physical disabilities, thinking styles, age–any element of these things that has helped you grow as a person, improved your ability to be good researcher/teacher, or that you hope to contribute to in the future. 
It’s important to remember that even if you don’t fall into any of those categories, you can still discuss these issues. It’s impossible for a person not to have experienced diversity and its impact on our world in recent years. Perhaps an internship in China changed your outlook on Chinese academics, or maybe a close friend confided in you about being gay. If these experiences changed how you see the world and enabled you to be a better person, teacher, and researcher–it can go in the diversity statement. Likewise, any initiatives that promoted diversity that you may have been a part of in the past are also up for discussion.
An applicant once asked me how to write the diversity statement “without offending anyone.” The truth is that your experiences are your experiences. Explaining how you work with different kinds of people is not inherently offensive. It is a valuable exercise that can force you to think introspectively about how diversity has shaped your world views and impacted your life.
If you feel uncomfortable submitting what you wrote, keep your draft and set it aside for a few weeks. Come back to it and read it again. You’ll likely get a lot of personal and professional insight, along with seeing your writing more objectively in hindsight.

 

 

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How To Write A Diversity Statement

diversity statement April 18th, 2016


 

My application has a diversity statement. What should I write about?

 

The diversity statement is quickly emerging as the fifth required document of the typical graduate application, along with the CV, statement of purpose, personal statement, and writing samples. And because it’s such a new add on, few people have the foggiest idea what it’s supposed to do (including, I suspect, the requesting admissions committees themselves).
The first thing to realize is that a diversity statement can discuss any number of perspectives. It can address how you work with a diverse group of peers. It can explain how you incorporate diversity into your life and research methods. It could even elaborate on how your personal background has equipped you to handle diversity in the workplace. Beyond the every day aspects, you could write about how you plan to support diversity in some way via your research or how you have addressed diversity through your research and writing.
So this is a lot of angles to choose from, and you don’t have to choose just one. You can mix several of these elements together depending on your situation.

 

 

The thing to remember is that everyone has their own histories— places and families of origin, inspirations, trials by fire. We often hear from applicants who think they don’t offer much in the way of diversity. But no matter who you are, you’ve likely had experiences with diversity, either during college, through engagement in politics, traveling, religious epiphanies, family dynamics, etc. And the things you learned and ways you’ve changed and  interacted with the world because of these experiences is no less valuable than anyone else’s experiences.
In a diversity statement you can talk about sexual orientation, race, culture, poverty, immigration, languages, traditions, gender, nationality, physical disabilities, thinking styles, age–any element of these things that has helped you grow as a person, improved your ability to be good researcher/teacher, or that you hope to contribute to in the future. 
It’s important to remember that even if you don’t fall into any of those categories, you can still discuss these issues. It’s impossible for a person not to have experienced diversity and its impact on our world in recent years. Perhaps an internship in China changed your outlook on Chinese academics, or maybe a close friend confided in you about being gay. If these experiences changed how you see the world and enabled you to be a better person, teacher, and researcher–it can go in the diversity statement. Likewise, any initiatives that promoted diversity that you may have been a part of in the past are also up for discussion.
An applicant once asked me how to write the diversity statement “without offending anyone.” The truth is that your experiences are your experiences. Explaining how you work with different kinds of people is not inherently offensive. It is a valuable exercise that can force you to think introspectively about how diversity has shaped your world views and impacted your life.
If you feel uncomfortable submitting what you wrote, keep your draft and set it aside for a few weeks. Come back to it and read it again. You’ll likely get a lot of personal and professional insight, along with seeing your writing more objectively in hindsight.

 

 

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