The MIT Press IDEA Plan

for inclusion, diversity, equity,
and accessibility

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The MIT Press IDEA Plan

for inclusion, diversity, equity
and accessibility

Our work across the Press

We are accelerating our ongoing work to center diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work across the MIT Press.

Fund for Diverse Voices

Founded in 2018, the MIT Press Fund for Diverse Voices supports the publication of books by underrepresented groups in science and technology. Gifts to the fund enable the Press to offer competitive advances to talented authors, cover the cost of high-quality production features (e.g. color images, or commissioned art) that may not be financially feasible otherwise, hire developmental editors to work with scholars who may not have the time or experience crafting general trade books, and ensure that these works reach the widest readership possible.

MIT Press Grant Program for Diverse Voices

In November 2021, the MIT Press announced the launch of the MIT Press Grant Program for Diverse Voices (GPDV).  This grant program offers concrete financial support to authors who bring excluded and chronically underrepresented perspectives to the fields in which the Press publishes across the arts, humanities, and sciences. Recognizing that economic barriers are among those that may limit the ability of some authors to complete their books, the GPDV provides direct-to-author grant awards for research and writing.

Equity and Justice Forum

The staff-run Equity and Justice Forum (EJF) seeks to increase awareness about issues of diversity and create space for a broad range of Press voices and conversations on issues of equity and justice.

Through its regularly scheduled meetings and Slack channel, the EJF provides a space for all members of the Press community to discuss diversity, inclusion, social justice, equity, accessibility, and antiracism learning.

Diversity Internship Program

In the fall of 2021, we relaunched our internship program, which had been on hold since the start of the pandemic. The internship committee met over the summer to work out the details of the new program, with a focus on how to hire diversely and attract the best possible interns.

We will be seeking additional funding to support the development and revision of our long-standing undergraduate internship program. The restructured program will directly address racial inequality in scholarly publishing by creating a runway for underrepresented undergraduate students to gain essential work experience at an established university press, creating a more diverse and sustainable pipeline for early career professionals.

Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program

Developed by Larin McLaughlin at the University of Washington Press and generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for six years (2017 to 2022), this program has helped to diversify the publishing industry by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments at eight university presses, including the MIT Press. By June of 2022, 30 fellows will have matriculated from the program—the first of its kind in the United States. Currently, most of the program’s graduates are employed at publishing houses across the country.

Open access initiatives

The MIT Press has been a leader in open access book and journal publishing for over two decades, beginning in 1995 with the publication of William Mitchell’s City of Bits, which appeared simultaneously in print and in a dynamic, open web edition. The Press now regularly publishes dozens of open access books and hundreds of open access journal articles every year.

We are committed to building structural equity and inclusion by supporting open access funding models for select books and journals via our Direct to Open program and several APC-free Diamond OA journals such as Computational Linguistics and Harvard Data Science Review. We are also adopting open metric tools that support equity and diversity in research assessment.

Creating a Press-wide author name change policy

The MIT Press is committed to supporting all of our authors and recognizes the need for a name change policy. We have taken the initial steps towards implementing a three-part strategy: 1) writing and posting a philosophical statement announcing our intention to create a name change policy, 2) drafting modification to our existing workflows, and 3) implementing the workflow changes. Our name change process is now posted on our website.

Helpful resources on name change policies:

EDI and antiracism consultant

In April 2021, the MIT Press engaged Tara Robertson to work with us over several months to help shape MITP’s comprehensive EDI and antiracism plan. The main focus of this collaboration was on the people, culture, and power dynamics between departments at the Press, and identifying the most impactful opportunities for diversity, equity, and inclusion across the employee lifecycle.

Robertson coordinated with the Press’s senior team, our HR administrator, and MIT Institutional Research to develop a Press-specific survey on EDI, antiracism, and culture concerns, for anonymous input. Robertson submitted a comprehensive report for internal reference. This report informed the development of the MIT Press IDEA Plan and will inform our external-facing communications going forward.

Staff trainings

In order for the MIT Press to meet its primary goal of becoming a comprehensively antiracist, inclusive organization, it is crucial for our staff to all have the same fundamental knowledge and tools through anti-bias training.

In May 2021, all MIT Press staff participated in a Racial Equity Institute (REI) Groundwater Plus Session, a training course aimed at providing key definitions, history, and strategies for combating complex diversity and inclusion circumstances.

The REI training is cofunded by a MindHandHeart Innovation grant and the Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) at MIT.

All MIT Press managers participated in Hiring at MIT: Bias Free Practices, a MIT-led training course to establish a foundational base for how bias affects decision-making in the hiring process.

We coordinated with the Institute Human Resources to create a training program for MIT Press managers on establishing and sharing communication and team norms.

Hybrid/flexible work environment

Synchronous with our move to our new office at One Broadway, we have adopted flexible work options that align with MIT’s Work Succeeding initiative. Flexible work arrangements allow staff, in consultation with managers and the senior leadership, to work remotely and collaboratively while supporting the varied needs or our staff and promoting job satisfaction and personal well-being.

As part of the move to our new office space, we adopted scheduling software that will help track how the new office is being utilized, with robust reporting tools. In spring 2022, we will work with MIT Institutional Research on a follow up to the inclusion and belonging staff survey we conducted in May 2021 and will include questions specific to the impact of this new flexible working environment on staff.

Meeting-free Fridays

The senior team and the Work Culture Committee have jointly decided to implement a meeting-free Fridays policy at the Press, starting in October 2021. This gives all members of the staff a much-needed break from Zoom and creates concentrated work time and mental health breathing space.

New MIT Press Management Board members

The Management Board of the MIT Press has grown significantly more diverse over the last several years, and Press leadership continues to seek and add board members who are well-positioned to help MITP achieve its EDI objectives as described in this plan. The current roster of the Press’s management board members is available here.

Working with other publishers

The MIT Press is engaged with peer publishers to implement EDI measures across the industry. The Press is part of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s cross-publisher inclusion and diversity in publishing working group. Member publishers, “acknowledge that biases exist in scholarly publishing and commit to scrutinising our own processes to minimise these. We will pool our resources, expertise and insight to accelerate research culture change.”

“The Uprising” film

Produced in collaboration with the MIT Press, “The Uprising” examines gender bias in academic science in the 1990s and features interviews with leading scientists, including biologist Nancy Hopkins. The 13-minute documentary introduces the story behind the 1999 Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT which is widely credited with advancing gender equity in universities both nationally and internationally. Watch “The Uprising” on the MIT Press YouTube channel.

MITP Staff Committees and Working Groups

The Press currently supports a large number of standing committees and working groups that provide staff at all career stages opportunities to contribute to the planning and work of the Press. Together these groups actively involve nearly every member of staff and they include: :

  • 60th Anniversary Committee
  • Accessibility Working Group
  • Author Name Change Working Group
  • Bookstore Committee
  • Cooper Fund Committee
  • Direct to Open Steering Group
  • Diverse Voices Grant Committee
  • Equity & Justice Forum
  • Internal Newsletter Committee
  • Internship Program Committee
  • Open Access Steering Group
  • Rewards & Recognition Committee
  • Urbanowski Fund Committee
  • Work / Culture Committee

Acquisitions

As a publisher of research and scholarship with a pronounced STEM focus, and functioning as part of a system that has long contributed to white supremacy and misogyny, we must interrogate our role as gatekeepers and curators, and commit to amplifying Black and marginalized voices. At this time, we are accelerating our ongoing work to:

  • Create an inclusive publishing process for authors of color
  • Recruit proposals from BIPOC authors in all of the fields in which we publish
  • Promote and publicize the work of BIPOC authors in a way that avoids tokenization
  • Develop and publish books by BIPOC authors in all of our series, including the Essential Knowledge series
  • Track author/reviewer demographics

Digital products and software services

Digital products and software services (DPSS) engages in periodic team activities revolving around antiracism. The department attended the August 2020 Day of Dialogue offered by MIT—each team member chose different segments to attend and then shared back learnings with the team during a follow-up group discussion. The DPSS is engaged in a shared reading and discussion of the C4DISC Antiracism Toolkit for Allies. We are partnering with and learning from other departments on related efforts, including the idea of establishing guidelines for evaluating relationships with vendors.

Editorial, design, and production

We are investing in staff trainings on the use of bias-free language in manuscript editing and on the history of Black design in America, through organizations including the Editorial Freelancers Association and BIPOC Design History. We are also actively seeking out vendors and editors from diverse backgrounds.

We have also produced a set of guidelines for bias-free language for use by staff and authors.

Journals

We are encouraging the editorial offices of the journals we publish to collect demographic data on authors and we are offering advice on best practices for storing and analyzing this information. Many of our publications are making impactful strides in this area, including the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience which has implemented a Gender Citation Balancing Index developed by the editor. More information here.

Accessibility Working Group

The MIT Press is committed to making its digital content, including our website and ebooks, accessible to as broad an audience as possible. We are working towards compliance in standards governed by the W3C, the IDPF, and Section 508 guidelines. The Accessibility Working Group acts as the authority on all issues related to accessibility at the MIT Press. The group is made up of volunteers from various departments within the Press and is working on developing workflows that allow us to publish born-accessible content. Read about our Accessibility work.

Institute-wide efforts

In July of 2020, President Reif announced MIT’s effort to develop and implement a comprehensive, Institute-wide action plan for diversity, equity and inclusion–one that will be central to MIT’s overall goals and strategy. Since then, Institute Community and Equity Officer John Dozier, Associate Provost Tim Jamison, and Deputy Institute Community and Equity Officer Maryanne Kirkbride have worked with the Strategic Action Plan Steering Team and MIT’s senior leaders to assess the specific needs of our community and to prepare this set of draft commitments designed to promote diversity, create a sense of belonging, and encourage equity across the Institute.

As an academic press operating within the Institute, we have access to many diversity, equity, and inclusion resources at MIT, including: Institute Community and Equity Office Infinite Conversations.

 

Industry-wide efforts

As a member of the Association of University Presses, we are acutely aware that there is much work to be done to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the publishing field. We strive to actively participate in these efforts, including:

Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications

Founded by trade and professional associations that represent organizations and individuals working in scholarly communications, the C4DISC works with organizations and individuals to build equity, inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in scholarly communications.

Joint Commitment for Action on Inclusion and Diversity in Publishing

Representing 45 publishing organizations brought together by the Royal Society of Chemistry, this group aims to set a new standard to ensure a more inclusive and diverse culture within scholarly publishing.

Equity, Justice and Inclusion Committee

Made up of members of the Association of University Presses, this committee supports the development and implementation of programs and resources that uphold the Association’s core value of diversity and that increase equity, justice, inclusion throughout the AUPresses community.

AUPresses Demographic Data Pilot Project

In 2021, the MIT Press participated in a pilot project sponsored by the Association of University Presses to gather demographic data about our publishing partners. We opted to gather anonymous and voluntary data from authors whose books were published during the last five years. The goal was to establish a baseline understanding of whose voices and perspectives are underrepresented on our list.

With the assistance of MIT’s office of Institutional Research, we surveyed the authors of MITP books published from 2017-2021. This is a large and international group. The Association’s Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee provided a toolkit including survey questions that we adapted. Authors were invited to answer on an optional and anonymous basis. In addition to gathering data on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, geographic location, and ability, the survey included questions about the project itself as a way to understand the diversity of our author networks and audit bias in our process.

As expected, a majority of MIT Press authors identify as white. A smaller majority identify as men, and most live in North America or Europe. With a response rate of 31%, the survey helps to establish a baseline demographic profile of our author networks against which to measure progress toward our inclusivity goals. We expect to repeat this survey in five years.