Equitea is a forum within the Astronomy and Astrophysics group to discuss topics related to equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) in relation to Astronomy, Physics and/or STEM as a whole. The forum was created in January 2021 and has been meeting monthly ever since. Sessions have covered a wide range of topics using a variety of formats, from which many have been able to get involved and all have benefited from.
Most of these sessions so far have been delivered by members of the Astronomy and Astrophysics group presenting on topics they either feel passionate about or feel the group should be more open to talking about. Whilst this is great (and we have planned for more of these in the future), there are a limited number of people in the group and organising sessions can take considerable time investment and mental energy expenditure. We therefore want to invite more external speakers to also present on these topics.
With the changing times, it is more important than ever for ED&I topics to be discussed and for everyone, no matter their career stage within academia, to be given the opportunity to get involved in the discussion. However, it is very important to us that Equitea sessions are delivered in an appropriate manner that is considerate and inclusive. While we are passionate about ED&I we are not experts in the various topics that we want Equitea to cover and our knowledge only goes so far. There are people who devote themselves to studying ED&I topics, or who make it a focus of their extra-curricular work, and we believe that it would be very beneficial to have them give presentations or lead workshops on topics such as unconscious bias, mental health, or being an active bystander. As experts in their subjects they can provide information that we, as non-experts, cannot, and can lead discussion of (often very sensitive) issues in their full context.