During my time as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Roehampton (2016-2020) I developed and ran The Diversity Project: Gender, Ethnicity, Sexuality, other diversities and their intersectionalities.
The rationale for the project was simple: at its simplest diversity means difference, often being taken to mean the differences between people – both visible such as gender and ethnicity, and invisible such as sexuality and religious belief. In many ways diversity is at the heart of social and developmental psychology. However, very often mainstream psychological research has been guilty of overlooking the impact of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality on individuals as a result of its focus on experimental generalisability and the White Western male focus. When issues of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality are considered often the focus is on comparing women, ethnicity, and minority sexuality against the norms of men, whiteness, and heterosexuality. Prejudice and discrimination, in terms of sexism, racism, and homophobia are examined in terms of measurement and understanding the causes of it. And, whilst these are worthwhile endeavours, they provide little understanding in terms of the effects that sexism, racism, and homophobia have on actual lived experience of these phenomena.
Despite the lack of enquiry, these diverse lenses of identity, as well as the issues of social class, and disability can have a significant impact on issues of personal and social identity, physical and mental health, and engagement in social and work life (Cole, 2009). In particular, qualitative research on issues of everyday diversity can help illuminate the issues minority individuals face and provide new insight into minority lived experience, whether that is the experiences of LGBT or BAME populations, and gendered life experience. In turn, this research insight can usefully inform clinical and social justice imperatives.
Each year, this project allowed final year undergraduate students the opportunity to design and conduct their own piece of original empirical research that was focused on the many aspects of diversity that can affect the human condition, as well as being engaged with their personal lived experiences.
Cole, E. R. (2009). Intersectionality and research in psychology, American Psychologist, 64, 170-180