Mental models reveal diverse perspectives on marine resources management across racial/ethnic and gender social identities
Abstract: As marine resource management fields continue to move toward more inclusive and collaborative processes, it is important to also examine the value of promoting the diverse perspectives of scientists and managers from different backgrounds throughout the decision-making process. An important objective of diversity initiatives is to acknowledge the value of diversity while providing opportunities to increase the representation of diverse communities in professional settings. However, focusing on diversity only at the surface can potentially overshadow benefits existing at a deeper level. This study used a mental model approach to explore the potential value of racial/ethnic and gender diversity in marine and fisheries science professions from a cognitive deep-level diversity perspective. The study included 112 participants across gender, who self-identified as one of the following racial/ethnic social identity groups: Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, Multiracial, White, Asian/Asian American or /Pacific Islander, American Indian or/ Alaska Natives. Results revealed differences in how members of underrepresented groups and white men incorporated concepts associated with diversity into their mental models and distinctions in how racial/ethnic and gender social identity groups organized similar concepts within their mental model structures. These findings on diverse perspectives related to marine resources management across social identity groups, highlight the value of understanding diversity beyond just a numerical or surface level and the utility of incorporating deep-level diversity in the management and decision-making process.