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Elevating the Voice of Underrepresented Young Children and Their Families: Reflecting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Within Academic Research

Ann T Chu, Aimee Hilado, and Obianuju O. Berry

Abstract

Academic researchers in the infant and early childhood mental health field seek to understand the factors in early childhood that promote lifelong learning, health, and well-being. The inclusion of diverse and underrepresented populations, however, remains a challenge in rigorous research design. This article explores the challenges in addressing inclusive research within academic settings using the experiences of three academic researchers. Recommendations highlight the opportunity to cultivate academic leaders and researchers across diverse settings who give voice to underrepresented young children and families.

The American Psychological Association’s original Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (APA, 2002) provided researchers a useful frame for conducting research with diverse populations. The fourth Guideline stated that “culturally sensitive psychological researchers are encouraged to recognize the importance of conducting culture-centered and ethical psychological research among persons from ethnic, linguistic, and racial minority backgrounds.” (APA, 2002, p. 37). In particular, researchers are encouraged to be grounded in the ways that culture influences the scientific process as manifested in research generation and design, assessment, and analysis and interpretation. These guidelines and tenets are especially necessary when the goal is to effectively include the voices of populations that are typically underrepresented in research. Yet, many barriers continue to stand in the way of truly reflecting diversity, equity, and inclusion within academic research. Using three examples from each of the co-authors (who are also three women of color conducting research in institutions of higher education), we seek to shine light on the challenges and opportunities for inclusion and representation in research.

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