Mentoring Minorities for More Effective Fisheries Management and Conservation
Mamie Parker and Dana M. Infante
The importance of biodiversity is well established in ecological contexts. E. O. Wilson (1992) states, “We should judge every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity.” Diversity within the workforce is also widely acknowledged as important by our society. Many of us have been taught this in school, and the value of diversity is typically enforced through workplace training programs. Few would disagree with the notion that a diverse work force can provide benefits to collaboration and problem solving, an idea that holds true within the field of fisheries management and conservation. In our field, dominated historically by white males, more women and racial minorities in the past few years have brought new perspectives and strategies that may have been previously underrepresented. Such perspectives may contribute to problem solving, foster greater degrees of innovation, and lead to new insights that can allow for greater success towards a shared goal: improving conservation and management of fish, fisheries, and their aquatic habitats. In support of these outcomes, we believe that mentoring minorities is a critical component necessary to increase diversity and retention of underrepresented groups in natural resources. Good mentors can help minorities to better understand and navigate group dynamics, develop important connections, and feel comfortable with their uniqueness.