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Scholarship winners reflect on RDAP22- William-Elijah Clark

May 04, 2022 10:14 AM | Laura Palumbo

As a statistics student and data fellow at Florida State University, not only is this the first RDAP conference I have ever attended, but RDAP 2022 was my first experience with any data conference. I was eager to learn some new things and expand my horizons as an aspiring statistician. While I am part of the LGBTQ community, it’s not a topic that would have struck me as notable for my professional development and career. I am not used to being addressed within the sphere of data analysis outside of the rare times where another researcher has considered inclusive survey design or times where LGBTQ+ data is the specific topic of a study. So, I was interested in what the theme of “Envisioning an Inclusive Data Future” would look like in practice with my personal goal for RDAP: gathering as many resources as possible to implement at FSU.

One resource from RDAP 2022 that stuck with me is the book “Queer Data” by Dr. Kevin Guyan. I did expect LGBTQ+ data inclusive data futures — however, I was pleasantly surprised with how extensive this reference was. RDAP 2022 has been the first time I have seen something about LGBTQ+ data beyond a small footnote, and I would like to hope that an inclusive data future includes LGBTQ+ statisticians like myself who can step in and provide context for the data that impacts our lives.

Another resource that stuck with me was the website littlesis.org. Some of the work I do for my data fellowship in FSU Libraries involves work with data visualization and advocating for data literacy. Hence, the fact that Little Sis breaks down complex data and turns it into effective data visualizations for the general public is interesting. Additionally, the data that Little Sis works with deals with information that is relevant to populations that are different from me; namely, they have data visualizations on topics such as corporations that impact immigration rights and racial justice. Hence, I found it to be extremely important for making a more inclusive data future and seems like a way to introduce as many different marginalized groups as possible to data.

One last resource that stuck out to me was the WAVE browser extension (https://wave.webaim.org/extension/) in the context of accessibility of academic databases. This was a resource I found interesting from the perspective of someone who is able-bodied but values inclusivity. When thinking about accessibility of resources, it made me think back to the accessibility of FSU Libraries research databases, and how that might be a useful tool for future work on our diversity and inclusion efforts.

In conclusion, I would like to say that RDAP’s theme of “Envisioning an Inclusive Data Future” was surprisingly refreshing and informative. Not only did the conference provide me with the confidence to think of myself as included as an LGBTQ person in the field of statistics, but it also illuminated ways to include other groups that are also historically under-represented in the field.

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