Communicate Respectfully in a Diverse World



AMES, Iowa – Make 2017 the year to pay special attention to diversity and inclusion, says Malisa Rader, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

three women of various racial-ethnic backgrounds talk together“Have you ever heard someone say something biased or demeaning and you didn’t know whether to speak up? Have you ever said something unintentionally offensive and wished you could take it back? How we respond in these situations is important,” says Rader, who specializes in family life issues.

Beginning in the new year, ISU Extension and Outreach will be offering “OUCH! The Stereotype Hurts.” This new curriculum is designed for agencies, businesses and groups interested in promoting feelings of inclusion.

The workshop, based on the book by Leslie C. Aguilar, will help participants understand the impact of stereotypes and biased statements, identify the most common reasons people sit silently in the face of bias and stereotypes, and enhance skills for speaking up against stereotypes. During the two-hour course, participants will learn six specific techniques to use when responding to difficult situations.

Many studies have shown that people perform poorly in situations where they feel they are being stereotyped. A 2010 study by the University of Toronto also shows that stereotypes have a lasting negative effect on their victims, including increased aggression and trouble making rational decisions.

“Sometimes we hear stereotypes and generalizations that others may not even realize are insensitive," Rader said. "Even when the intent was not to be hurtful, we shouldn’t be silent. When we let hurtful words slide without reproach, we send a message of acceptance about them. Increasing comfort, confidence and skill are critical to being able to respond effectively."

Groups or communities interested in the “OUCH! That Stereotype Hurts” workshop can contact Malisa Rader at mrader@iastate.edu or their local ISU Extension and Outreach human sciences specialist in family life.