I’ve served on several award committees, boards, and councils at American Sociological Association (ASA), Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), and International Sociological Association (ISA). I was the chair of 2019 Joseph B. Gittler award committee at SSSP and an elected graduate student representative in the board of SSSP and councils of sex & gender and sexualities sections at ASA. Within my duties, I have organized conference sessions and workshops, presided on paper panels, developed and executed mentorship programs for graduate students, evaluated award nominations, participated in policy discussions, and voted on policy decisions.
My service to the profession is focused on making people sensitive to the various normative forces that give more value, access to resources, and power to some people than to others. It aims to sensitize people to the patterns of White privilege, Anglo-Saxon dominance, male privilege, nativism, ableism, heteronormativity, homonormativity, cis-normativity, ultra-nationalism, and other oppressive forces that inhibit the professional growth of people of color, women, non-US citizens, disabled people, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. I challenge these normative forces and inequities in my professional service.
As an active member of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), I have advocated for minority and underrepresented voices. For example, as an elected member of the Student Forum Advisory Board (SFAB) of the ASA, I introduced a motion in 2019, much before the covid-19 crisis started, to allow video conferencing for board meetings in addition to tele-conferencing. Telephone meetings can pose barriers to participants with speech-related disabilities and non-native fluency in English—barriers that can be mitigated through video features on meeting platforms. The motion was successful and the SFAB bylaws were accordingly revised.
I have used my elected positions at ASA and SSSP to tackle the barriers to graduate students’ professional growth. For instance, as a graduate student representative in the SSSP board of directors, I proposed a workshop in 2018 where graduate students would have a safe space in which to discuss power dynamics with senior colleagues and how to manage them. With the board’s approval, I organized the “Navigating Power Relations, Hierarchies, and Anxieties as Graduate Students” workshop in the 2019 SSSP annual meeting. As the chair of the Student Forum Advisory Board at ASA in 2019-20, I again organized this workshop in the 2020 ASA annual meeting. Due to the covid-19 crisis, we did not meet in person, but I leveraged the virtual engagement platform and organized a well-attended workshop on Zoom.
In my professional service, I seek to maintain allies, including those from dominant identity groups, who challenge normative biases. In the 2018 LGBTQ caucus meeting at ASA, for example, I intervened in the discussions that were moving in the direction of bringing a person of color into the leadership position—a step that would have replaced a White lesbian woman from the position of the caucus chair. I knew her as a senior colleague for the past few years—we were paired in a mentorship program where she was assigned as my mentor. In that meeting, she showed a good understanding of LGBTQ organizations in the South as well as of the challenges that I could face in the US as a scholar of color. Through that meeting and later interactions, I developed an impression of her having good interracial as well as transnational sensitivity. Therefore, in the caucus meeting, I felt that she should be retained as the caucus chair and the discussions on replacing her should stop. Hence, I advocated for retaining her as the caucus chair by citing my experience of knowing her for the past few years. My intervention was welcomed by a colleague of color who was the probable candidate for caucus chair, and the discussion on changing the leadership stopped there. After that meeting, the caucus chair came to me, and thanked and appreciated my intervention. I sincerely believe that the battle which spirited people like me are fighting against normative forces is not against people belonging to the dominant identity groups. This battle is against oppressive racial, gender, class, and other ideologies that are supported, and opposed, by people from dominant as well as marginalized identity groups.
To summarize, I have sought to help reduce inequities through my service by drawing attention to the normative forces that hinder professional growth and developing effective strategies to overcome those forces.