APA's Div. 14 (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, SIOP) is working to bring more I/O educational opportunities to minority-serving institutions by hosting a series of teaching institutes that offer I/O psychology material for faculty at these institutions. The division also seeks to foster better connections between I/O professionals and the institutions.

"With the ultimate goal of increasing ethnic-minority representation in the field of I/O psychology, we're trying to develop relationships with faculty who teach at institutions that serve largely ethnic-minority populations," says Michael Burke, PhD, who is leading the effort with psychologist Kecia Thomas, PhD, former chair of SIOP's Committee on Ethnic and Minority Affairs, with funding from Personnel Research Associates Inc., an I/O psychology consulting firm, and a grant from APA's Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training.

SIOP held its first institute in November at Tulane University in New Orleans, with psychology faculty attending from Dillard University of New Orleans, Xavier University of New Orleans, Prairie View A&M University of Texas and Southern University of New Orleans, among other institutions. The workshop included interactive sessions on how to recruit minority students into the field, how to incorporate information on I/O psychology into undergraduate psychology courses at minority-serving institutions and the nature and types of work that I/O psychologists perform in academia and private and public organizations. It also shared ways faculty at schools without I/O programs could best advise students seeking graduate-level training in the field, says Burke, who is a professor at Tulane University.

SIOP is working on plans for another event this fall, likely to be held in Washington, D.C.

A long-term solution

The under-representation of ethnic minorities in I/O psychology, in part, stems from underexposure at schools where there aren't any dedicated I/O faculty members, says Thomas, a professor at the University of Georgia.

"So, not only are these students not getting familiar with I/O, even for the ones interested, there are very few I/O programs out there--far fewer than clinical or counseling psychology at least," she says. "Any student who chooses to apply to an I/O program is going to face really stiff competition."

But despite the lack of programs, there's a lot of enthusiasm among I/O psychologists for increasing diversity--"to build this into a successful and long-standing initiative," she says. In particular, it's important for I/O to be a diverse field because of the role it plays in developing better, more integrative workplaces for all, Thomas adds. "The concerns of minorities should be included in workplace improvements," she says.

Institute activities

Plans for what will be included in forthcoming institutes include:

  • Review of course syllabi and teaching modules, focusing on strategies and resources for teaching I/O psychology and how I/O psychology can be integrated into other psychology courses.

  • Panel discussions of emerging trends in the field, focusing on emerging trends from the perspective of research and practice to assist faculty in effectively representing the scientist-practitioner foundation of the field.

  • Conversation hours and social events with I/O psychologists, focusing on opportunities for summer employment and internships in the field as well as future areas of development and student preparation.

  • Panel discussions led by faculty at minority-serving institutions, focusing on topics that will include diversity issues and strategies that SIOP may want to consider to increase the attractiveness of I/O psychology to minority students.

Further Reading

For more information on SIOP, go to www.siop.org.