Give Diversity a Chance

The University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Diversity office fosters an inclusive environment for students, trainees, and faculty within the health professions schools through recruitment and retention in order to increase the number of well-trained professionals who reflect different cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, abilities, genders, religious affiliations and sexual orientations. Whether bringing speakers on campus or working directly with students, they are raising awareness to the fact that “those outside of what has been considered the” norm” – be it gender, power, sexual orientation, racial, ethnicity etc., or even health disparities for people who with low incomes” according to Paula K. Davis, Assistant Vice Chancellor.

“All humans carry biases. Adults and parents transmit what they know, whether based on fact or not, to their children,” said Davis. At the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Health Science Diversity, we are here to teach, inform, instruct and expose individuals to what they may not know…and when their eyes are open, it is a good feeling.” Indeed it is.

Davis proudly stated that the start of the academic year brought with it a new LGBT affiliate group – the Pitt/UPMC Health Sciences LGBTQI Alliance–which serves not only students but faculty, staff, residents, fellows and providers whose mission is to create a safe, visible and vibrant environment for education, research, mentoring, support, and advocacy. “With a steering committee that spans the life of the academy and a strong group of allies, the group is engaged and growing! In this instance, what may have caused a wave ten years ago is now only a ripple,” said Davis.

But, as we know, not all waters are calm.

And, among the list of hot topics among campuses across the country currently are unisex bathrooms. Davis noted that the University is discussing concerns surrounding unisex facilities and how everyone can be served well. As with any discussion, Davis says that “it is an opportunity for education. As it pertains to transgender individuals, her opinion is that “we shouldn’t make a determination on the best way for them to live their life. It’s not about everyone else, it’s about them.” She stressed that if everyone would take a moment to think about others and treat them well, with dignity and respect, that life would certainly be a lot easier and nicer.” We couldn’t agree more!

While promoting diversity may be her job, Davis’s love for people and equality is innate. Thanks for the work you do and for a chance to get to know you and what you do on behalf of the Office of Health Sciences Diversity!