Working Towards More Ethical Behavior

Many of our libraries have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. I counted five sessions at the 2018 OLA Annual Conference that were related to the DEI work Oregon libraries are doing. We are at different places in our learning and growth around DEI. Wherever you are at in your DEI learning, I hope you will watch this video and think critically about the main points no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.

TEDTalk

How to let go of being a “good” person—and become a better Person
Dolly Chugh at TED@BCG
October 2018

Here are a few things from the video I want to remember:

  • “Bounded rationality is the Nobel Prize-winning idea that the human mind has limited storage resources, limited processing power, and as a result, it relies on shortcuts to do a lot of its work.”
  • “At any given moment, 11 million pieces of information are coming into your mind. And only 40 of them are being processed consciously.”
  • When we make mistakes that threaten our attachment to being a good person, like mistakes that hurt other people or promote injustice despite our intentions, we explain them away rather than learning from them.
  • These types of mistakes make us fight for our good person identity. Whereas other types of mistakes, like in accounting or parenting, make us seek out help from others, training, and books and articles so we can learn from our mistakes and improve.
  • Most of the time no one calls us out on these kinds of mistakes. Most of the time no one challenges our good person identity. This means we don’t think much about the ethical implications of those mistakes and we spiral towards less and less ethical behavior.
  • When someone notices us make these kinds of mistakes and points it out or asks us about it, it feels like they are challenging our good person identity. In these cases we have to think about the implications of our mistake and we begin to spiral towards more and more ethical behavior.
  • “We have this definition of good person that’s either-or. Either you are a good person or you’re not. Either you have integrity or you don’t. Either you are a racist or a sexist or a homophobe or you’re not. And in this either-or definition, there’s no room to grow.”

Here are a few of the questions I am thinking about:

  • How can I practice finding my mistakes when people don’t call me out on them?
  • How am I going to work through the instinct to fight for my good person identity so my response doesn’t end there… so I can identify my mistake and start the work to learn from it?
  • How am I going to invite colleagues to call me out? If you notice a DEI mistake in this blog, please provide constructive feedback. We are at different places in our DEI learning and growth, and you may be ahead of me. If so, share some of your resources please!
  • How am I going to deal with the discomfort and embarrassment the next time someone calls out my mistakes so I can learn and improve?
  • What am I going to do next time I notice a colleague make a DEI mistake? If I address it, can I help them work through the instinct to fight for their good person identity and deal with the discomfort and embarrassment to foster learning instead of defensiveness?
  • Circling back to a previous post about being good enough, how do we library professionals support each other in being good-ish and good enough? How do we help each other through our mistakes, acknowledging that they have “real costs to real people,” in a way that fosters growth and improvement without feeding into the perfectionist tendencies many of us have? If we wait to implement DEI initiatives until we think we have the perfect plan, we will never do it and we’ve already waited too long to address institutional and historic racism in public libraries.

Superpower Girls

Superpower Girls: Female Representation in the Sci-fi/Superhero Genre

A study by Women’s Media Center and BBC, October 2018

SuperheroStudy

Key take-aways:

  • “Every demographic group we spoke to expressed a strong desire for more female superheroes…”
  • “Female sci-fi/superheroes are more impactful sources of inspiration for girls than male heroes are for boys, empowering girls—and especially girls of color—to believe they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”
  • “Teen girls are significantly less likely than teen boys to describe themselves as confident, brave, and heard. And these challenges are even more pronounced for girls of color.”
  • “Despite notable campaigns to boost women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), we still see a 23-point gender gap between teen boys and girls with regards to interest in STEM careers.”
  • “1 in 3 teens [including boys] agree that girls have fewer opportunities than boys to be leaders.”
  • “If you can’t see her, you can’t be her,” BBC America President Sarah Barnett

Library considerations:

  • How many sci-fi/superhero movies for teens does my library show featuring strong female leads?
  • How many strong female leads does my library emphasize when we have sci-fi/superhero fandom events?
  • Looking at displays of TV and movies for teens in my library and at my library’s online presence, how many items feature a strong female lead?
  • What percentage of my library’s teen advisory council (or similar) are girls? Is this representative of the percentage of regulars who are teen girls?
  • Looking at the leadership opportunities my library offers teens, what percentage are offered to teen girls? Is this representative of the percentage of regulars who are teen girls?

Teens & Texting

Does your library use text messaging to reach your patrons? Do you send out holds or overdue notices via text? Or do you alert your teens to upcoming programs by texting them? Here’s the latest report by the Pew Internet & American Live Project about teens and their use of cell phones and texting.

Teens, Cell Phones and Texting: Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication by Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project, April 20, 2010. URL: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages

Summary of Findings
The mobile phone has become the favored communication hub for the majority of American teens.

“Cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends, with cell calling a close second. Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones, up from 45% in 2004. Those phones have become indispensable tools in teen communication patterns. Fully 72% of all teens2 — or 88% of teen cell phone users — are text-messagers. That is a sharp rise from the 51% of teens who were texters in 2006. More than half of teens (54%) are daily texters.”
Read the full report here: URL: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages