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Oct. 16, 2022

Disability and LGBTQ+ Affinity Groups | #HFES2022 | Bonus Episode

On this bonus conference coverage episode of Human Factors Cast we interviewed Rose Figueroa about the Disability Affinity Group and Jules Trippe about the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group.


Recorded in front of a LIVE studio audience on October 11th, 2022, in Atlanta Georgia. Hosted by Nick Roome and Barry Kirby with guests Rose Figueroa and Jules Trippe.

On this bonus conference coverage episode of Human Factors Cast we interviewed Rose Figueroa about the Disability Affinity Group and Jules Trippe about the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group.

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Transcript

 

Yes. And we're back. We're continuing our HFPS conference coverage. I'm sitting here with Rose Figeroa. Welcome back to the show. Thank you. Great. Well, Rose, you're here to talk about dia AG. That's a lot of letters. It's the disability. Chronic illness, affinity group shorthand. We're going to call it Disability or Accessibility Affinity Group throughout the course of this. Let's just start at the top. What is it? Well, there's a series of ads, the affinity groups. So we have the LGBTQ plus the BIPOC and other groups, the women that was the oldest and the one that broke to start these other groups. But this one is more to create the community for the people that may have some sort of disability or chronic illness and or people that want to be allies and advocates and learn more on how to help that community, especially within HFPS. So that's how it started, which is interesting because I was just remembering that two years ago, maybe during a conference, I went on and ran with you criticizing how there's a lot of areas of improvement for accessibility. And next thing I was founding the Dciag and HFS was giving a lot of good stuff to us. So they listen. That's a really brilliant thing to hear, that the fact that you've gone around, you realize that there's a big gap and you've been able to go and do something about it. What sort of activities do you get up to in the affinity group? What sort of things do you get up to on what you've done this year? Well, that would be a compounded question versus what we want to do and what we're doing based on the volunteer hours, because we're small and the newest affinity group in the society, we have done just quarterly meetings and that was based on the community. They asked to be quarterly instead of monthly, like we gave them the option. And what we do is some of them, we just meet as a community and we just catch up. There's no specific topic and we can brainstorm what would be our mission and what do we want to do. And then there's some that we have had speakers. So we actually had one of the meetings. Everybody was asking that wouldn't it be great if we have an attorney to please help us and navigate what reasonable accommodations look like? What can we ask? What are we entitled or what should we not ask or how to do that? So for the next meeting, Emily, she's a former EEOC, so the Equal Employment oh my God Commission. So she came in and she was willing to give a really great presentation and everybody loved it. And she was very knowledgeable, of course, but also she did that very tailored, answering the questions and being available. So that was great to see. So we're doing that, just bringing speakers based on what the community wants and then other things that we want to do is just as simple as coffee, chats and virtual other things, that we just connect the community and have advocates and allies be able to listen and see how they can help us too. So I want to get sort of a little personal here. So you and I actually had a chance to talk last night at the opening ceremony and there was a moment of realization on my part where I realized that this group would interest me because of my ADHD. And it was one of those moments where I was just like how many other types of things like this might go sort of unrecognized as a disability? And when do people sort of have that moment of clarity that I had last night, that this is something I should care about? Not that I didn't before. It's incredibly important for affinity groups, but just that I feel like I belong now a little bit. Right, so I guess the question is what would you tell folks who think they may or may not sort of qualify for these disabilities? Well, yeah, it's one of them. On that note, and that came in because we had a great question from a student in the student panel for interviews, that she was like, how do we help and what tools do you give to people that have some disabilities like ADHD to excel in an interview? And it was great for me. That was my favorite question because we didn't know the answer in the panel, which is like, I don't know necessarily. And my answer was, well, at least if you start coming to these groups, you may meet people that may have been through that process, that they had a disability and that they're willing to share their tools, that they use, what works for them, etc. So I would just say it could be as simple as going on the government list. And if you qualify, I believe even Celiac people are actually encompassed in the Ada disability because they do need a reasonable accommodation. And I give that example because that's another group that they may not even think that they're in the disability group. But if you join the group, even if you're just as passive listener and advocate, then you may realize that you do belong. You do belong anyway, because everybody is welcome. But it is a way of you can start learning a little bit more how it can help. And I would just say there's also age, hearing laws, vision loss, like things like that, that you may think that you could get good use of being in that community and been exposed to those resources that we share while we're in those meetings. Right, so this might come feel as a slightly unfair question to a certain extent, given how young you are as an organization, but what do you think has been your biggest achievement this year? There are actually a few which is interesting because we're so new, so we're still looking for volunteers. Hashtag help us, please. But the accessibility for the conference, there's a lot that still can be done, but the fact that they did listen, so like, the organization understood that I have limited hours too, like I have my day job and my other jobs and my other things to do. And you cannot rely only on the members, especially from affinity group, because the affinity groups are not meant to be the advocates and the people that do the volunteering work. It's meant to be a community. So you should not expect them to do the work. We can if we want, right? But the whole point is everybody should feel welcome and that when you join our group, you're not expected to do any work. This is just so that you meet like mandate folks, like from your same affinity group. But if you go to the HFE as the conference website, there's a tab for the accessibility. The EC, they actually got a paid consultant for accessibility and that was based on our recommendations such that we can help, we can guide. They actually asked for an input for the documents that the consultant wrote and sent to the presenters for like how to do a poster that is accessible and a presentation, et cetera. But they were not making it my job to build that document. They gave the rest of the consultant to start and then the only thing that we were doing is just giving the input as the members because we know he has more than an outsider in that sense. So I think an interesting question to follow up to that is what is sort of the most surprising thing that you found out, either working with HFS or in the disability affinity group? What is the most surprising thing?

 

 

Let's see. So the most surprising thing? It's a good question. Yes, it is a good question. You're welcome. I guess it would just be the even the effort that it takes to do some of these things, right? Like when you're just a member and you're saying like, oh, this could be done better. Sure, I mean, is there a better set than done in general? Right? But there's some processes, there's some, you know, even the approvals and whatnot that needs to be done to do it the right way and the time and effort that it would take, it all depends on our bandwidth, given that we're mainly volunteers. So I'm not saying caught us on flight, but at the same time it's just like understanding that we have limited time as well. So that was for me. Somewhat surprisingly. Now that I'm in that side. That I'm just like there's a lot of things that need to happen and a lot of pieces and variables that need to move. Even if it's as simple as having an accessibility tab on the website for the conference. But also the willingness for people because when you're on the other side and you're just like. Okay. It could be none better. But we're human factors. They should know that. So you're assuming that they know, but sometimes it's the knowledge. They just didn't know that there was a need for that because people were not coming and complaining. Which is also understandable, right? Like if you didn't feel that you belong and you just stepped back and left the organization and they're never going to know, why did you leave? Right? Yeah. The things you've been saying actually resonated to a certain extent, you're right. We are human practice practitioners, we're all about usability, we're all about engagement, yet we seem to have had a massive blind spot when it comes to this and hopefully that's almost your unveiling or demisting that blind spot for us. So clearly it's hugely important work. What's the future? What do you see as your sort of short term, maybe medium long term goals that you want to achieve? With the affinity group, we're slowly growing, which is one thing. So as we're getting more volunteers, we can have more events happening throughout the year because then we can have people that are leading their own babies or like something that you actually like, that you enjoy. You can just do that one. Now we have a cochair that is an aunt, so we will be more active in that sense because now we can divide and conquer. So now it's establishing a little bit more like the elections, getting a whole committee going so that we can have a bigger presence and hopefully that will slowly get to the community. People that may have left over the years because they felt that they didn't belong, that the accommodations were not there. Whatnot? So we are here. We are part of a shafi's and part of the community and at least we can serve as a voice and connect you to the right people so that you feel welcome and you feel like you have the reasonable accommodations that you need. That you deserve as being part of this community when you come to a conference and when you go to any other events. So I think those are seeing those things more and more instead of us asking about can I get a reasonable accommodation now? It's more about them offering and being like it's not a taboo, it's like right there when you're showing that webinar. Click here if you need an accommodation, things like that. I feel like that's what we're going to start seeing more and more, which is thanks to all the volunteers that keep doing that. So along that line, what type of resources are available to members or non members now and what would you like to see in the future? Something that we have been talking in the group is even as like simple resources, like daily living stuff, if you do a PowerPoint presentation. Why don't you have the closed captioning on that actually comes embedded in Microsoft when you're presenting, even if it's on Zoom, right? It's not the best, especially for a non English speaker like me, but it's better. We're getting there, right? The AIS. So things like that. Like resources that could be used not only as a practitioner or like an employer. But also if you start doing those things as a person. The accommodations. Like when you're in a Zoom. Maybe you don't need the closed caption. But if you're the one who asks for it. Then it's great because you've been an ally. You've been an advocate. So you're not making me ask for it or making somebody actually needs it. So simple things like that. I think we're going to start trying to like, encourage the members to showcase. That is as easy as X, Y and Z examples that you can start doing at work, at home, etc. Or got you. So if people want to go on and get in touch and get involved, how would they go around doing that? Well, I think the website we have like sign in for volunteering, you could always just email me and later I can drop my email in the chat as well. Or LinkedIn. You can find me on LinkedIn. A lot of people message me through LinkedIn and I do see them and may take a little bit more time to respond depending on the influence of messages, but I do see them. And even as simple as if you say email info@ashafi.org, I believe that is just a general email, they're pretty active on that. And if you say like, hey, could you send this message to Rose? Or the share of the DCI and things like that, they do send them, we do get those two. So it's just getting contact. You want to help? There's a lot of things we could do now. I want to back up a little bit. So we've talked a lot about the affinity group. I want to talk a little bit. You're busy this week. You are a very busy person this week. You were telling me last night. What brought you to HFPS this year, aside from the affinity group? Well, in general, it's the networking. I do like the community. We catch up every year, so it's a way of the networking. And I see you at least once a year now, so it's cool, right? So that was one of the things that I'm doing. Of course, I'm presenting different technical presentations and I'm in some panels related to the EI, so diversity and inclusion too. But I think the networking overall is one of the main drivers that get me to come every year, just catch up with the community and see what's new. Yeah, and you can like that. What you presenting on? I'm presenting on virtual reality, actually. I do forensics, so characterizing some variables for virtual reality. We are actually doing a demo with the Vargio that is a very high end mixed reality headset on Friday, then that's realistic driving and driver behaviors. So it's not VR at all. Right. But it's just based on the stuff that I do and I'm presenting to, like I said, panels on Dei, bringing Dei to Human Factors and a few of the VR stuff this year was full on that. Yeah. You wear so many hats within HFES, I guess what would you consider your role within HFS? And it's okay to go down the list of all the hats that you wear because you're a very active member of the society. Yeah, so, I mean, if you go to my LinkedIn, it's over, all over. Like, I am a big proponent of the Latinos, and I'm bringing in more Latinos and underrepresented minorities in Stem, but of course, my baby is even Factors and Biomechanics, so I do connect a lot of people in that sense. So I do like Hispanic Heritage Month, right? Like, at least bringing them it is the end of Hispanic Heritage Month this month, and they actually just released a news yesterday, and they highlighted me and a few of all of the Latinos tweeted thank you is shepherd, by the way. But yeah, it's just feeling the belongings of the different minorities that we may need to increase the numbers. But yours here, even if we're five for now or ten, right. We're going to keep growing and showing ourselves so that others can see themselves in this community, too. So that is something. So I do serve in the Liaison and Reps Committee, trying to build partnerships with other organizations like Ship, that is the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and things like that. So you have all of these things, and you're clearly a very plugged in and a very involved person. Why? I don't know, man. I'm a sucker for volunteer roles myself. I do a similar thing, and quite often my wife is asking me, Barry, why? So I'm going to put that back on you. Why is the Keenist to be involved? So some of them is just I happen to be in the middle. I just happened to be the connection, and next thing I know, it happened years back with Hurricane Maria. I happened to be in the middle, and I ended up leading the hurricane statewide relief efforts for Puerto Rico in Michigan. So I just happened to be there in this case, Shafiya, because I guess I'm not scared of talking and saying what I think respectfully and talking to the right people and identifying the right stakeholders that could get something done or at least get it moving and get us in the right direction. So I feel like I have to, too, because then I can see it, how it can get done. Then I feel that I'm passionate about it. I can help others. I wish I had these opportunities and this showcasing when I was a student or even, I don't know, like ten years ago. Right. So I feel like if I can and help others that are coming behind me to make it paving the pathways easier, why not? Yeah, so lots of hats, lots of stuff going on at HFS this year. I know it's only been one day, but I don't know, I feel like I've already lived an entire week. What have you gotten out of the conference so far on day one? Technically one. Oh, yeah, I had the student session, so it was the interview panel in the morning, which I was surprised. I thought they were going to be just like ten students. It's the first session on a Monday and the room was completely packed. The program that the volunteers did was great because I started seeing what was coming after and it was just full of students here to learn. So that actually energizes us as the practitioners and people that are trying to mentor and keep showcasing human factors, seeing those students that are very interested, very involved. So a lot of networking in that sense. The award ceremony was pretty nice and it was pretty full too, so it's just catching up with everybody. Like you said, it was a very long day. More than I thought. I know I talked about it earlier, but I had so many things going on yesterday. Setting this up and then running to find audio equipment last minute and then running back and trying to network with everybody and track people down and finalize interviews and get things organized. It's a lot going on. And the other thing that is interesting is that the past years, especially DCI, that is new, is that I have been having meetings with Zoom for the past two years with the COAG, so the collision of AGS, so all the shares and the head, the leaders, and I just met them in person yesterday. So it's like I feel like I know you. We have had like calls that is literally venting about work, like personal, like we build our personal relationships with some of these folks and I have never seen them in person. And it didn't pass through our minds that, yes, this was the first time that we saw each other in person. Mary. I've heard that before. Yeah. I was going to say, me and Nick have never actually met. Everything we've done over the past year or so that we've been doing this, now, we've been doing it like this. I'm fairly convinced that he doesn't actually exist. It's just like a character in The Matrix. But I think if I can just throw in one last question at you, if you don't mind. There's a lot of stuff you've done here which I think is really impressive, really valuable, and obviously over here in the UK, we are probably, we are looking at EDI and there is people over there from the UK presenting on EDI this year at the conference. But is there a way of being able to package some of the lessons that you've learned and be able to share them with other communities, such as ourselves over here in the UK that we can learn from what it is that you've done? So I'm actually in a panel today with some Courtney from the UK under the EI stuff. So, again, I've not met in person yet, but we wrote a paper together, so I would just say there's a couple of things. There are people that even within the community, like Nick and I were talking yesterday, I ended up having finding this niche because I've been doing this advocacy for more than ten years now, and I do have my own consulting company on it, and I bring in the human factors. So one of the panels that we're doing today is actually doing that. I think it may be recorded, but it's just how are you bringing dei to human factors or using your human factors knowledge, your background, so that you can incorporate that dei? And it could be as simple as, like, using the right metrics, understanding, we're dating people, so let's use that when you're bringing the case, like build your business case, be impactful tailored. So I guess in general, people in the UK, US, anywhere, it's about identifying that gap. And it's better to do small steps, incremental changes, than trying to just conquer the world to start with, which it just helps because then you have data too, so that you can actually understand if it was actually impactful. So I'm a big proponent of tailor initiatives that are impactful versus let's just waiver and do something big, let's say, just for the sake of doing it in the dei perspective. That makes sense, yeah. Okay, one last question for you. You have a lot going on. What are you most looking forward to over the next couple of days? There were a few, right? One of them was just like the general, the networking and meeting up people in person for the first time that I have been writing papers and meeting for years now because of covet. But it's just the diversity of the sessions too. With me, I'm going to be installed not as the director for the BCPE, which again, I'm meeting all the people in person now, are going to have the business meetings. So I'm also looking forward to that because they always do a meeting at the end of Achieve and see how we can help. And again, I can bring all the adei view and outreach aspect to BCP and the partnerships that they do as a fierce too. But yes, overall, just hearing listening to the people, I've been listening a lot and seeing what else people need and want, especially from the communities that I represent, so that then I can do some sort of summary and I'm bringing it up and see what can we do and what do to help us and keep empowering us. Well, bro, thank you for being on the show. You're always welcome here. I think the last time we talked was just on a Human Factor's hangout that we did on the stream when technology wasn't working or something. You're always welcome on the show. Thank you for stopping by. We'll be right back. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with our next guest right after this. Yes, hello. Welcome back to our coverage of HFPS 66 annual meeting. I am echoing again. You need to call me on these things before we go live. Man very good. Alright, welcome back to our annual meeting coverage human Factors anomic Society 66 Annual Meeting. I'm sitting here with Jules Trip. Jules, welcome to the show. I am so happy to have you here. I've been wanting you on for a long time. So today we'll be talking about the LGBTQ plus affinity group. We talked to a couple folks about affinity groups today and I just think they're an incredibly important aspect of the society. So I'd love to pick your brain a little bit. Can you tell us just what the affinity group is? Yeah, so actually that's not as simple a question as you can imagine. But really the intention behind starting these affinity groups a few years ago was really to help folks feel comfortable in this organization that might not see themselves represented necessarily when they came to the conference or even in other smaller groups of folks that are in HFDs. It tends to be kind of a traditional organization in terms of you'll see a lot of academic types and sort of professors and things like that. So there are a lot of suits walking around and folks that were a little bit different in one way or the other might not feel comfortable. And so we wanted to and of course that difference is just entirely defined by whoever the dominant paradigm. So we wanted folks to feel comfortable and to feel like they had a cohort and they had people to talk to, maybe a mentor if they needed, certain people to help guide them if they needed in their career, or just sort of personal choices around how to work from the margins. Right. That's really interesting to hear. We've heard a fair bit around finite groups today and just really the really strong impact they're having in the way that HFCs is now delivering. What's been your biggest achievements this year? Are there some standout things that you've managed to achieve or everything's going to be brilliant, but is there some things that stand out? Well, I have to tell you, it's the little things, right? It's the non binary bathrooms. Yeah, I noticed that there's a sign. Yeah, I mean, it's like and I stumbled into it the other day and it just looks so natural. I just kind of walked in and, you know, there were the urinals and the stalls, and it was just awesome because me, you know, being raised female, I'm not used to seeing urinals in the bathroom. So that was very nice, but then I couldn't find it again when I was looking for it. So there are victories and then there are little setbacks. Like, there should be pervasive signage to tell you how to find that rest room if you want to. Yes, that's a really big thing. But I have to say, the biggest thing and the most heartwarming thing for me is just seeing all the queer people here, not to mention people of color and stuff like that, but really, folks are feeling more comfortable. And I think it has a lot to do with in COVID we all had a little wake up call and we're able to kind of come home to ourselves and be a little bit more expressive about who we are and sort of not roll with the punches so much as we've been used to. So I think people are more out of themselves and in their own lives. But I think also we've made a point of telling folks, you're welcome here. And certainly not just welcome, but we need you and the future needs you. When it comes to human factors and design and stuff, we have to take everybody into consideration, and marginalized communities can just tell us so much about what we're missing, what we've missed for a long time. So, yes, I find those huge things. Unfortunately, our ribbons didn't make it this year. We had ribbons last year with all the flag colors and all that kind of stuff. I was looking forward to that, but it didn't happen. But there's a lot of super good stuff. And just across the affinity groups, we have a coalition of affinity groups. So there's a lot of good sort of bottom up ideating going on. And I have to tell you, Chris has come by and said hi to me four times during the day, see how I'm doing. And Chris Reed, the outgoing president, and Carolyn's been involved in all of these causes, and so she's come to say hi to me, too. And I kind of take it for granted because we've been zooming over the last few years together. But that's really nice. I mean, definitely people are taking an interest. It's important. I want to jump in because there's sort of a question about the cross sectionality between human factors and queerness within the society itself. But then there's also human factors helping those who identify as LGBTQ IAP. Plus I'll add in the extra ones. Why can't we make the affinity group? All those just be a little bit more inclusive anyway? Some people don't like that. But you're right. Where is that intersection between human factors and queerness? And how can we make a difference. A difference in what way? The queers on human factors or human factors? Both. Yeah. Okay, so I think that the cross section is very much in human factors. We have to have this sort of meta awareness of what it means to be human and how to take that into consideration in sort of our everyday lives, things that we've always taken for granted or once again, sort of the standard or typical way of looking at things. We've been outside of that all our lives, so we're used to kind of having a little bit of objectivity about that stuff and a lot less attachment to it because normally that would be a dangerous thing. So I think it's not ridiculous to imagine that there's a huge connection between those things. And I think there's a lot we can gain from that as far as squares go. Our affinity group in particular is really a support group because what we're looking at now with the endangered trans populations in particular, but just sort of everything being up in the air, even gay marriage, which, you know, I mean, how mundane can get, and yet it might be revoked. Right. But that level of need for community and certainly if you're in a space where you feel comfortable professionally, even, let's say, your company is accepting who you are and supportive of your family and all that kind of stuff still going out in the world as a professional, there's always this shakiness about it. It's like, yeah, what if things change? What if the dominant paradigm shifts a little bit and the acceptance isn't there anymore? And so when you can come together with professionals of your own ilk and talk about those fears because you don't want to expose oh, that's a whole other thing. You don't want to expose all that stuff necessarily to everybody that you work with because you want to just be able to have your life and work with them and be a member of the team and not have to talk about your issues all the time. But at the same time, underlying is this constant fear that maybe if they wake up tomorrow and I'm not in favor, then I'm out of my ear. So we are primarily like a support group, an affinity group, a group of people that I mean, it's funny, we say affinity group. It's almost like, oh yeah, we're on the Star Trek, but we have an affinity for one another, is how I think about it. That's where the affinity lies. Not to make a joke here, but are you telling me that there's going to be a Star Trek affinity group? I just thought that might give a little interest here. You could start one.

 

 

So you talk about it being a support group, the affinity group. How does actually the group run? What is it you actually, I guess, do on a day to day basis that helps support people and allows you to support them. How do you achieve that? Yeah, it's interesting actually. We're kind of struggling with that. We've had a lot of iterations in the very beginning. We worry a lot about advocacy within the society and really pushing an agenda, as it were. We went for the steakhouse and the toasters, but really so old gay joke. But it's like you recruit enough people, you get some statements. But we were really in it for trying to educate the higher ups in the society about really what needs to happen in terms of the language. I did a whole lot of work on the code of ethics, just trying to get modern language in there and certainly language that was palatable to all of the affinity groups and marginalized communities that are represented in the society. So some pretty basic, really simple stuff. But also things like the little things like the ribbons and the bathrooms and stuff. It takes a huge amount of work to get that stuff done. It's just kind of crazy. But once we had most of those agenda items ticked off, we're like, okay, now it's time to just support each other. And what that has amounted to is, you know, we have a meeting once a month on Zoom and folks attend from, I think Mike in Singapore. I mean, we have people all over the place and I just said somebody's name said about that. But anyway, all over the place and lots of students, props, industry people, all kinds of all kinds of different folks. And sometimes it'll be like there's three of us there and we're just talking, but it's just super important. And sometimes folks will drop in like once and you'll see them and then maybe six months later they'll come back one time. It's just a place people can go and they know what to expect in a way, even though you never know what to expect. I mean, the only rule is you're not supposed to talk about work. We try and make that a rule because it just gets a little heavy sometimes. But of course work comes into it because most of us are passionate about what we do and so that comes into it and we get to talk about that stuff too. But mainly that's what it is. It's just sort of a presence like that and reaching out about specific, say things that, let's say like the Di committee that we have here in the society. If they need input on something, then hopefully we will be the SMEs on that. Which brings up another whole nother point, which is we don't want to have to be our own advocates, but we'll certainly be contributing. Just like Nick's Lab has asked me for help on some things, just like running things by me, like, do you think this is cool? Do you think this language is okay about people that you have affinity with? And sometimes I have to check with my people to make sure. I'm not going to say that I know everything that anybody is going to be offended by or anything like that, but it takes that kind of questioning. I think it's all it's flipping things on their head, really, because we all think ourselves as experts, scientists, blah, blah, blah. But really, when it comes to this kind of work from the get go, you just have to say, I don't know, I don't know, but I can be respectful and I can try. And I'm a they them, which just fucks with people. It just blows people's minds that have known me forever and it's just the whole thing. And I think the thing people are uncomfortable with is saying, oh, sorry about that, big just interrupting themselves, but we're used to certain cadence and that spells comfort in social situations and stuff like that. When you're queer and you're overtly queer, then you've got that in everybody's face all the time and people just feel challenged by that rather than thinking about what do we have in common? Where are we going with this? What kind of work do you do? It's like, wait, how do I interact with this other? So, yeah. Anyway, I'm blathering. But hopefully we're giving a space for people to just take a breath, be with one another, maybe see folks that they find may look a little bit like them. I have to deal with the same things they do. It's so important. And you keep bringing up this concept of bringing work into it and maybe even when you're at work sort of avoiding who you truly are. I think there's sort of the question of what does that actually look like? Because there's a panel this week, we just talked to Christie about bringing yourself to work. I mean, the concept behind that is obviously to sort of encourage these environments where people feel welcome to be themselves. What type of challenge does that look like in the workplace as a queer professional? And like, what are some small things? Keep mentioning these small changes to what does it look like as a queer professional? And what small changes can companies make to make it more inclusive by some small changes? First of all, it's just like nothing small changes. I've thought in professional environments where I bring things up that I think are simple things to change, small things ends up being there's this entropy, gravitational pull of corporate America, whatever, that make everything difficult. So anything that is a little bit different, anything that causes, you know, people to pause or doubt or anything can be super, super difficult. But I'd say, well, like you're saying, you know, helping it be an open environment, a comfortable environment for folks. And where I work, I'm definitely one of the oldest new employees, meaning age wise, but I'm relatively new to the company. And coming in, it was really clear to me that certain things were not necessarily fair for everybody or even for everybody. And it's not so much in terms of treatment but just sort of language. I'm also a linguist, so that's my training and I'm really hypertuned in communication and how people talk about stuff and so trying to bring people's attention to the tiny things that we do every day. So just within my company I try and have little they're not even workshops like these 20 minutes blurbs with the whole company where I can say if you just use you all. Then you just don't need to worry about the rest of it. Y'all. Or folks or whatever or address people by their name until you know what their pronouns are. Little things like that that are so simple but they are so difficult. Social change, I mean, it's just huge because it's threatening on an animal level. It's like, wait, am I just tagging myself as different? And then I got the target on my back. Now I don't know about that. So it's little things like that and hopefully people being able to step into that. And I have to say, I mean, younger folks these days in general are very cute into all of those environments but still are cowed by the heaviness of the hierarchy, right, that answered any of that. Guys gals non binary pals. That's my favorite. You know what I love? Somebody said to me in a restaurant the other day and I could see it, the service industry are just plagued by this stuff, right? What the hell am I supposed to do? And this person was just like friend, thanks. Friend. Everybody was friend. I thought, oh that's cool, not everybody can flip it off. But that was really nice. The generational thing you say I think is quite strong because with younger children, my oldest is 18 and going down from there, they just seem to take to this so much easier. It's just a given. And so for me it feels like there is hope that actually is going through a transitional stage rather than something much longer than that. But what can we allies do? How can we support your GBTQ plus community going forward?

 

 

Once again, seems like a sweet question. It's really interesting as you're asking me and I'm feeling stumped and thinking why am I stumped? One, is it actually safe to ask for anything? Do I want to put that on the table? And two, what do I consider to be an ally? And I have to say it's the people that in the moment will say, wait, we haven't heard from you yet. How do you feel about this? Those people that are willing to take you've heard probably a million times, especially as a white guy, I don't know the rest of you, but I'm thinking with the beard voice and the kid and all that, but just to say I'm going to use a little bit of my privilege here and bring this person into the conversation. And it's not just because I'm a nice guy, but it's because I already value what they have to say before it comes out of the mouth. I don't know what it is, but I know it's going to be a little bit different perspective, probably. We can bring that into the room, or we can make whatever we're building, whether it's community or conversation or a jet airplane, we can make it better with hearing from everyone. And when everybody does feel comfortable on that level, it's so cliche. But we all win. How can we not say we all freaking win if everybody's in the room and can actually speak what's in their imagination? I mean, good Lord, imagine, right? So in all these voices that we're starting to hear now in the wake of, you know, George Floyd, all the horrible things that have happened that have helped people sort of come out of the closet and say how they've stayed strong all of these years, all of those secrets. And there are tools that we can all use, and there are magical ways of being with one another that we can all use. So being open to that and I would say whatever comes out of you, bury as a result of you in your mind feeling like, oh, everyone contributes and whatever. This beautiful person that looks really unfamiliar to me doesn't map onto anything that's recognizable in my universe. I'm sure they have something to teach me, to show me. And you don't have to poke them and say, show me something, teach me something. You're my new shaman. But just being respectful and paying attention and making space for that, it sounds like the thing for allies to do. I'm hearing two different things, right? One is you shouldn't have to ask. You should just do things that are basic common human decency. And two, the things that should also be included in that package should be some of these things that don't make people feel threatened by default based on any piece of them that may be sort of impacted by the things that they say, the nonverbal language that they're communicating, anything like that. The hope is that allies would just be passive in the sense of sort of nonverbal communication and neutral in terms of the way that they communicate. You're so right. This is really interesting because I've been thinking a lot lately about the sort of the straight white guy privilege, his straight white guy privilege kind of thing that people are so unaware of in general, but a lot of people are not like, Nick, I consider you in that sense, but I'm not aware. Yeah, but the whole thing is the interesting part of that is that power comes with a price. And we all know this like, I'm an old feminist, you know, being raised anyway as a girl and everything, and being a really strong feminist I know that comes with a penalty. And the penalty is there's this little chest plate that comes with that privilege. And it's like, okay, but I can't let them too close because this sternum is penetrable. And God forbid I turn my back on them while they're pissed about some little social norm that I've trespassed on by either holding my hand in a certain way or wearing pink or whatever in a sense of, like, queerness. But even if you're not queer, you know what I mean, those things everybody knows the rules, and you could be in big trouble. And so I think that's the thing that we need to recognize that is a sacrifice. I mean, it's it's there was a young guy that used to used to be my neighbor, and he was a CIS, straight, white guy. I had a kid. He was like the perfect young guy. And he was like, wait a second. How long am I going to have to be this guy that has to say, can we let them speak? How long am I going to have to do this behavior of being an ally? How long am I going to do? And I was like, Dude, you're in it. You chose to be born in this body, and this is part of the price. And he's like, oh, it just killed him. And it's like, it is there is that's difficult? I mean, I can understand that that's difficult. Not just to get to ride the wave, you know, but of course there are a lot of benefits that come from it. And I absolutely think Nikki put it really perfectly just to try and toning down the aggro, which most people don't even feel. But you can do that by absorbing some of the other agro in the room. It might not be you, right? But you can just kind of let it flow. You don't have to put the chest plate up yet and just making space in that way. And in all honesty, just believe in it. What is that? So Peter Pan or something was true. It was like, just believe in it. Just believe that people are equal. Right. It seems to be a strange thing to a certain extent, that we as a human factors community should have to make the extra special effort to think about affinity groups. We should be just doing it by default. But it's clearly clear we don't even I like to think that we as a human factor community are the people who go and ask how people are, how people contribute to their work, which proves that we still have some way to go with your work that you've done with your group so far. And some of the stuff you've already told me kind of hit this mark already. But what's been the most surprising thing you found out? My own ignorance. How do you mean? Well, being raised a well meaning guilt ridden, liberal, white, middle class, CIS, whatever. Just my own ignorance about the depth of pain and insecurity and not fitting in and challenge that so many people have. And I'm facile with language and I've always gotten good grades and being athletic and all these things that make me just sort of fit into the culture in ways that go unspoken, but where you get a lot of cred. You can just sort of walk in the room. And I never really fit gender wise anywhere, but it sort of didn't matter because I just kind of played the in between little sister, buddy, whatever, however people had to look at it to make it work. But it blinded me to a lot of pain. And I used to think being queer was enough. I could relate to pain, but I can't relate to wearing stuff on my skin to the degree that people do or in my language to have a certain accent that's going to label me as I have a TV accent. I was raised outside DC. Right? But I mean, some folks, just the minute they speak a word, even an American English dialect, god forbid, second language, English dialect immediately or put into a box. So yeah, it's just that it's my own lack of knowledge, but I've come to see it that way. In the beginning I thought, I'm stupid, I should have thought of that. It's like, no, that is not my experience. I don't need to have known that. But I do need to know enough to ask someone about the reality before I make assumptions. So what's next for the affinity group? Yeah, I think we want to make it work. Like, I'm stepping out as a coach here, I've been here for a few years, and Hannah's going to maintain and we're electing a new person in the near future. And I think it is what is it that we need? Okay, what's interesting about a support group is that people have to label themselves kind of in need to go to that. A lot of times a much better entree is what can I do to help, what can I do? So I think having projects is a nice thing, whether it's trying to change the agenda of the society or going into grade schools, coming up with events that we can have or ways that we can have of interacting with younger people that might need support in these areas. I've been working on a memorandum of understanding with Osam, which is out in science, technology and math and things like that are always on the table. But all that advocacy set up, like I said, we don't want to weigh down the affinity group with that. So I think, yeah, we just want to reach out and find out what people want. Do you want games or what do you need? Because folks don't honestly don't know what they need and when they're really in need. It's very hard to reach out, as you all know, I'm sure. So if we can make it a little more of a regular thing for people to take care of themselves by showing up, that'd be awesome. But so far, I tell you, just at this conference, handing out these little flyers with the affinity group meeting times on them, we kind of screwed up by not getting to the program. But I wonder because it means we have all that FaceTime with people. We get to talk to them about what they could gain from that and everything. And that's been really good. The showing this year is really good. I see a lot of good positive energy and a lot of folks that are going to be members of these affinity groups are here showing up once again. I think COVID made us stronger. It still is making us stronger. I feel we could keep on talking for ages, but it's quite likely prompting me that we are with you. So we do really appreciate your time. But if you're here for the rest of the conference, what are you most looking forward to seeing in the next few days? I can't hear what we have to say on that panel. I'm looking forward to the people in the audience saying, what the hell do you mean bring your whole self to work? Which is just like social media now. And I completely believe that. And by the way, just right here, for the record, I'm just going to say what that means is you bring whatever aspect of yourself you want to be present and respected at work and it should be present and respected at work. You don't have to bring everything, you don't have to disclose anything you don't want to. Whether it is that you have kids or that you say the Catholic high school or whatever the hell it is, it doesn't matter. So that just to clear things up a little bit. Yes, I am looking forward to the panel because I don't know, but all this other stuff, good stuff. I just came from this incredible Human AI teaming panel that was just amazing. So yeah, no, it's all good. Jules, thank you so much for being on the show again. Have wanted you to be on for so long. I'm so glad we had a chance to make it happen. Thank you for coming on and talk about the LGBTQ plus affinity group, the queer affinity group. Thank you. Nice to meet you.

Rose Figueroa, PhD, CHFP Profile Photo

Rose Figueroa, PhD, CHFP

Human Factors | Accident Investigation | DEI Champion

Rose Figueroa is a goal-getter Engineering Ph.D. Latina, and an equity advocate who is passionate about mentoring, and impacting STEM students and professionals. Dr. Figueroa is a Certified Human Factors Professional and Managing Scientist at a consulting firm where she investigates complex accidents throughout the U.S. and Mexico – regarding HF/E, safety, and biomechanics issues. Dr. Figueroa, is also Founder & Program Director at belongIN, serving as a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) consultant, speaker, and workshop facilitator for national and international organizations.

Dr. Figueroa has served as HFES’ DCI AG Founder/Co-Chair, as a member of HFES' Code of Ethics Task Force and COAG, HFES-SHPE Liaison/Representative, SHPEtinas Regional Director, Chair of Advisory Board for Women of Color in the Workplace®, and has been elected as a Director for Board of Professional Ergonomists (BCPE). Dr. Figueroa holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

Jules Trippe Profile Photo

Jules Trippe

Applied cognitive scientist