Inclusion/Exclusion Principle

What do you think of when someone is described as “professorial”? I was recently reading an article that used this adjective to describe a film director. Immediately, I thought that they were speaking about a bearded white male, probably straight, and on the older side. I looked this person up on Google images, and I was mostly correct (except the person was slightly younger than I imagined, and did NOT have a beard, but I digress). I was struck by how easy it was for the writer of the article to evoke an image of the person they were writing about, but by using a term that is not even remotely reserved for white cisgender heterosexual males. For example, I’m a professor, and so are all the editors of this blog! But we are not the people one thinks of when someone says “professorial”, unless it comes with other adjectives or descriptors. The same could be said about someone being described as a “mathematician” – who do you picture when you hear this word?

And in a sort of roundabout way (which you will soon realize is very much my style) this brings me to the point of this blog. The main mission of inclusion/exclusion (yes, in lowercase) is to bring attention to issues of diversity and inclusion in mathematics. The Inclusion/Exclusion Principle is a strategy from combinatorics used to count things in different sets, without over-counting things in the overlap. It’s a little bit of a stretch, but that is in essence what we intend to do: highlight and elevate the differences, the diversity of our field, and not just more of the same. We want to change what it means to be “professorial” or a “mathematician”.   Topics you can expect are:

  • Posts about people who are doing good things for diversity and inclusion in mathematics.
  • Tips and strategies for creating more inclusive classrooms and departments, research on pedagogy.
  • Articles and reports on diversity and representation in math and STEM.
  • Posts about and interviews with mathematicians from marginalized or under-represented groups, highlighting their achievements and work.
  • Reviews on math meetings we attend.
  • Reviews on websites and organizations focusing on supporting underrepresented people in math.
  • Posts with personal perspectives.
  • Posts about mentoring colleagues and students from underrepresented groups.

The idea for this blog was conceived more than a year ago. I had recently “retired” from the Ph.D. + epsilon blog and was looking for something else to write about. I realize that many people write about diversity and inclusion already – for example you can find great posts in my former blogging grounds, the AMS blog on teaching, the AMS mentoring blog, and the blog on math blogs. Beautiful writing from many others, like Francis Su, has been getting a lot of deserved attention. But I wanted a place where we talk about these things exclusively (see what I did there?), and intentionally. I also wanted a diverse team of writers to help (a blog about diversity and inclusion should not be written by just one person with just one point of view!). You will see that we have different styles, different voices, different interests, and in some cases I’m sure different opinions, but that is what I’m most excited about – true diversity! We will also have guest writers every once in a while, writing on topics that are their area of expertise, and not ours.

Finally, I want to point out that since the blog was conceived, the world has changed quite a bit. As group of editors that includes women, people of color, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community, we are particularly aware of the fact that having a place for our voices is not just a good thing – it is critical. We hope that everyone gets something out of this conversation, and we welcome all of our readers to share their own voices by participating in the comments. We look forward to sharing our posts, and ourselves, with you.

The editing team left to right: Piper, Adriana, Brian, and Edray. Not pictured: Luis.

Redefining “professorial”. The editing team left to right: Piper, Adriana, Brian, and Edray. Not pictured: Luis.

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2 Responses to Inclusion/Exclusion Principle

  1. Amy Katz says:

    This is great! I already feel included, and my only real tie to the world of mathematics is my brother (pictured above). I can’t wait to read more.

  2. Helen G. Grundman, AMS Director of Education and Diversity says:

    Thanks for doing this! I’m looking forward to lots of interesting and informative posts. (Not to put pressure on you or anything.)


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