BREWS (Broadening Representation and Equity With Science) promotes inclusion and equity through community-building tea breaks and data-driven discussions. Systematic obstacles to recruiting and retaining a diverse talent pool in the sciences slow the pace of innovation. The core idea behind BREWS is that, as scientists, we ecologists and evolutionary biologists are well-suited to disentangling the forces driving complicated patterns of diversity (or lack thereof). The challenges often seem overwhelming, so BREWS focuses on quantifying the scope of the problem — including where intervention is most helpful — and identifying evidence-based strategies for making departmental life more equitable. To do so, we collate data from the literature, surveys, and other sources, and use it to initiate conversations, motivate specific actions, and define measurable goals that we as a department and individuals can strive to meet.
BREWS encompasses three major activities: data-driven seminars and discussions open to everyone, and tea breaks for members of underrepresented groups in STEM. Seminars examine why STEM careers are particularly inaccessible to those with certain intersecting identities (e.g., gender, socio-economic class, cultural heritage), and which stages of the academic pipeline are particularly prone to diversity loss. Discussions are focussed on a current topic or new research ideas on diversity. Tea breaks provide a safe space to build community, dissect implicit bias versus useful criticism, and develop strategies for overcoming barriers.