An important part of collaborative research, and indeed of open science, is compassion. We, as members of different research communities, are too-often inclined to act with an assumption that science, which is supposed to be evidence-based or data-driven, is somehow pure, objective, and above implicit biases. In reality, science is produced by humans, and falls prey to the same biases, societal inequalities and (dis)advantages that humans have. This is reflected in the science we do, and the communities or workplaces we conduct our research in.
Privileges are unearned advantages given by society to some people but not all. Oppression is systemic, pervasive inequality present throughout society that harms those with fewer privileges and benefits people with more privileges. Allies are people who use their societal advantages for the good of others with less privilege.
Given a situation, someone may have less privilege in one situation when they can benefit from allyship, whereas they may have more privilege in other situations where they can be an ally for others. Being an ally is a learned skill that everyone can practise by self-education and structured training. An Ally Skills Workshop allows its participants to understand various concepts, explore social scenarios and practise simple everyday techniques they can use to make their workplace and communities more inclusive.
This workshop has been developed by Valerie Aurora, who also delivers trainer workshops through Frameshift Consulting. Thanks to the Software Sustainability Institute Fellowships, we (Malvika Sharan and Yo Yehudi) received our trainer’s training with an intention to bring these skills to Open Life Science (OLS) and other open science community spaces that we participate in.
Ally Skills workshops by Open Life Science
Open Life Science is a cohort-based program that trains and mentors its participants around community building - creating healthy, friendly, caring, and inclusive communities. Currently, over 50 members are participating in the second cohort of this program. Part of their training includes a short session on ally skills so that they can be prepared to step up for the members of the community they are building for their projects in OLS.
Upcoming workshops: open for everyone!
We will host additional virtual Ally Skills training sessions to give interested participants beyond our current cohort the chance to learn about:
different types of privilege you may have (and perhaps not be aware of it)
using your societal advantages to support others in your workplace and communities
practise handling realistic scenarios you could encounter, in small groups and a safe space
These workshops will take place on 4 December 2020 to suit two different time zones. Both workshops have the same content:
Open Life Science is a non-profit organisation. Our goals with this workshop are to make ally skills more accessible to others as well as raising money for OLS. Proceeds will be used towards sustaining the cost of OLS and offer small incubator grants for OLS-2 projects (see our report for details). Tickets cost will be waived for the OLS mentors and experts - please email email@example.com for a ticket discount code.
We do not wish to exclude anyone who would find it genuinely difficult to pay for this workshop. If you would like to participate and your organisation is unable to sponsor a full-price ticket, please fill out this short form to request a reduced-price or free ticket.
These workshops will be delivered by Malvika Sharan, Emmy Tsang, and Yo Yehudi. All trainers have completed the Ally Skills Train-the-Trainers workshops by FrameShift Consulting and will be using adapted materials from FrameShift Consulting. Collectively they have delivered Ally Skills workshops at CarpentryCon @ Home 2020, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Whitaker lab at the Alan Turing Institute, and short sessions in Open Life Science.