Founded by a group of leading neuroscientists, the ALBA Network aims to promote equity and diversity in the brain sciences.
The goals of the network are to:
- Empower brain scientists to be Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) advocates and allies
- Promote best practices to counter bias and discrimination
- Recognise outstanding contributions to science and diversity of underrepresented brain scientists to offer better visibility
- Provide professional development opportunities to neuroscientists from underrepresented groups
These goals will be achieved through the following actions:
- Establishing a Declaration of best practices
- Curating a centralised resource of available data on bias, underrepresentation, and effective strategies
- Hosting networking events at major brain science conferences
- Establishing awards (e.g. Women in Brain Science/ Diversity Award) with partner sponsors
- Highlighting success stories of individuals and organisations to create role models
- Advocating with policy makers, funding agencies, institutions and other relevant stakeholders
- Creating a mentoring community
- Collecting a database of scientists as a resource for speaker invitations, award nominations
Alba means sunrise in several languages (e.g., Spanish, Italian). The word, with poetic resonance, evokes the beginning of a new day, when light is emerging to illuminate a new future.
Naming this network ALBA relates, thus, to the recognition that our scientific communities are beginning to acknowledge the importance of incorporating diversity and ensuring equality in the way we deal with science.
Although traditionally the field of neuroscience has been lagging behind in these topics, we consider that we are currently living an extraordinary momentum when progress starts happening.
Thus, the ALBA Network has the ambition to be an emerging energy that helps in catalysing this promising movement towards a definitive change wherein all brain scientists will have equal opportunities to thrive.
Definition of diversity
The ALBA network believes that diversity is a fundamental component of excellence in brain sciences, and that access to education, training, resources, mentorship- and jobs should be based on an individual's potential, not on their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion- or culture. However, we know inequities exist, and talented scientists are excluded from opportunities in brain sciences because of these factors and personal choices that bear no relationship to their potential to succeed.
ALBA recognises the geographical, cultural and historical differences in the groups of individuals that are underrepresented across countries and within subfields of brain sciences. We expect the scientific community to present at least the same or even a greater diversity than in their respective countries. We are committed to supporting and advocating for actions and policies that foster equity, diversity- and inclusion in brain sciences across the globe.
Who qualifies as an underrepresented person?
An underrepresented minority can be defined as an individual whose percentage of the population in a given group is lower than their percentage of the population in the country. At the ALBA Network, our definition of an underrepresented person is someone who identifies with one or more of the following:
- LGBTQIA+ individuals
- With disability, neurodivergence or chronic medical condition
- Of first generation status (being the first in a family to attend university)
- Born into racial, ethnic, indigenous or caste groups that are historically underrepresented in their country of origin and/or work
- Who do not speak English as their primary language
- Living in low socio-economic area
- Facing forced migration or displacement due to war, human rights abuses, political conflict, natural disasters
- With difficult personal circumstances (e.g., caregiving responsibilities)
- From families with low-income or limited social mobility
- Weak passport holders (according to latest Henley Passport Index)
- Studying or working in a country with low gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) measured against gross domestic product (GDP) and number of researchers per million inhabitants (according to latest UIS statistics)
Please note that this is a working definition. Practices, identities and minority status may change over time, depending on culture and geopolitics, and as such, feedback is very welcome.
Learn more about how underrepresented groups are defined in different countries and by targeted STEM initiatives.