A new APA task force founded by APA President Ronald F. Levant, EdD, is examining diversity in the membership, developing plans to make APA more welcoming to marginalized minorities and devising a plan for reconciling any differences among diverse groups.
The Task Force on Enhancing Diversity, part of Levant's presidential initiative on diversity, is chaired by former APA President Richard Suinn, PhD, of Colorado State University, and will augment some of APA's previously established diversity initiatives, including the Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training.
"I applaud APA's efforts to attract ethnic-minority psychologists," Levant says. "Nevertheless, I believe that we are not doing everything we can to make APA a comfortable place for psychologists who are members of marginalized minority groups."
The group is made up of 10 psychologists selected for their expertise in a number of dimensions of diversity, including ethnicity, race, disability status, sexual orientation, aging, religion and gender, Suinn says.
"The task force accepted what some would consider a delicate and demanding charge from Dr. Levant--that of identifying ways in which APA is perceived as unwelcoming and ways of achieving collaboration through conflict resolution," Suinn says.
The group began its work with a January meeting at which it decided on the elements of a report, due out this spring, on building a more comfortably diverse association. Among the report's potential diversity-building recommendations are developing a climate study on how marginalized groups experience the environment in APA boards, committees and divisions. Also on the group's agenda will be how to create mechanisms for training researchers focused on studies with human participants in the skills they need to conduct research with diverse populations, says Suinn.
The benefits of diversity are not just about political correctness, says psychology professor and task force member Beverly Greene, PhD, of St. John's University in New York. Diversity, and the added perspectives that come with it, improve science, she explains.
"The way we go about doing research depends on our values and perspectives, and those values and perspectives can limit our research unless we have colleagues and experiences that broaden our horizons," Greene says.
Diversity also strengthens psychology education and practice by prompting new and improved methods for treating and teaching diverse populations, Greene adds.
Members of the Task Force on Enhancing Diversity
Norman Abeles, PhD, Michigan State University
Patricia Arredondo, EdD, Arizona State University
Jill Oliveira-Berry, PhD, Tripler Army Medical Center
Douglas Haldeman, PhD, Seattle, Wash.
Justin McDonald, PhD, University of North Dakota
Rhoda Olkin, PhD, California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University
Richard Suinn, PhD, Colorado State University (chair)
Melba Vasquez, PhD, Austin, Texas
Joseph White, PhD, University of California, Irvine
Beverly Greene, PhD, St. John's University, New York City