Sakshi Ghai, postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, together with her collaborators Dr. Lee de-Wit and Maria Mak, both from the University of Cambridge, recently received a SIPS Mission Award from the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science. The accolade was given for their column in Nature titled: “How we investigated the diversity of our undergraduate curriculum.” The awards recognize projects that further the society’s mission to improve methods and practices in psychological science.
During her time as a PhD student at Cambridge, Ghai and her team conducted a thorough review of the reading materials suggested to psychology students. Their goal was to better assess whose voices were included in essential readings and determine whether the curriculum reflected diverse social groups and cultures.
They found both a lack of sample and researcher diversity represented in the undergraduate teaching materials. All first authors of primary research papers were affiliated with a university in a high-income country and most of the research studies taught to undergraduates were also based on groups that were predominantly (67%) from the global north.
Ghai commented on the audit: “As part of the global scientific community, including departments, funding organizations, and journal editors, we all need to join forces and strive towards creating a more inclusive pedagogy.”
Describing the findings as “striking but not surprising” the team acted on them to begin increasing awareness on the diversity gap. As a first step to diversify the department and curricular diversity, Ghai delivered a lecture series on rethinking diversity in research methods to third-year undergraduates.
She and her team also curated a Festival of Diversity event, which included panel discussions about the importance of underserved populations in research and the hidden barriers faced by underrepresented faculty members and students. Funders and publishers were invited to share ways to increase diversity in scientific endeavours.
Now, Ghai is a member of the research team behind the Programme on Adolescent Well-Being in the Digital Age at OII, funded by the Huo Family Foundation. She is continuing her work on diversity and representation, focusing on adolescent wellbeing in the digital age, a majority of whom live in the Global South.
Professor Andrew Przybylski who leads the programme commented on the award: “It’s wonderful to see this initiative recognized by the Society for Improvement of Psychological Science. The impactful work Ghai continues to do leverages her expertise for good in both research and education in the digital age.”