Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

Chasing history
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Women’s History Month and AU’s Priya Doshi place focus on DEI

Associate dean for faculty and inclusive excellence affects DEI campaigns and PR classes
Photo+courtesy+of+Priya+Doshi.
Photo courtesy of Priya Doshi.

During her time in public relations, Priya Doshi noticed a lack of gender diversity in who strategic messages were engaging as their intended audience. 

“I think there’s always this natural inclination to take the ideas or the work of women in that space, fold it under a larger success and then not necessarily give them credit for the specific pieces that they brought to it,” Doshi said.

Doshi is American University’s associate dean for faculty and inclusive excellence working in the Office of the Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty. Doshi said that this practice stems from gender norms of women leading the home and being present in a work environment, which presented little opportunity for work-life balance. She said the opportunity for work-life balance that comes with teaching at a university led her to AU. 

“It’s the best job for an intellectual mom,” Doshi said. “You can do this amazing work, impactful work as a professor and you have flexibility in your schedule.” 

At AU, Doshi said she’s worked on diversity, equity and inclusion campaigns, and redesigned one of AU’s strategic communication courses to teach students how to craft a more inclusive public relations campaign. 

Throughout the month of March, Women’s History Month is celebrated nationally. This year’s theme is highlighting and celebrating women who have committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, according to the National Women’s History Alliance. 

About ten years ago, Doshi came to AU where she has worked to advance diversity, equity and inclusion policies, according to her faculty profile.

During her time at AU, Doshi said she has done a lot of impactful work for both her students and the broader AU community. She has worked with the Faculty Senate and is a member of the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion. Doshi said she has worked to advocate for AU’s DEI and core requirements, as well as adding new course availability for students.

From her experience on those committees, Doshi said she was able to redevelop a course of her own, called Multicultural Strategic Communications Campaigns. 

“To me, it was critical,” Doshi said. “And it felt like a missing piece of our curriculum, that we didn’t have a course that looks specifically at multicultural audiences in the U.S. I have another course called International Strategic Communication, which looked at global audiences and the different ways that strategic communication is practiced around the world.”

In redeveloping that course, Doshi said she was intentional in the way she incorporated her knowledge of DEI into it and her experiences with discrimination in the public relations industry. 

“Even if you attract people with diverse backgrounds into PR, they often leave, because they feel like it doesn’t really reflect them, and they don’t feel seen or represented in the field,” Doshi said. “So I was trying to give them kind of a theoretical understanding of how to view strategic communication through multiple lenses.”

Doshi said that when manufacturing public relations campaigns, the normative audience of white males is usually thought of first. However, she said, people need to think about how their messaging and strategies change depending on what group is targeted. 

“If you’re going to do these campaigns that are specifically focused on demographic groups, you have to think about how you need to change your messaging and your strategies and the tactics, how you involve them in the process of how you talk about whatever it is you’re talking about,” Doshi said.

Doshi said that it’s important to be open to new paths when building a career.

“It wasn’t some grand plan I implemented,” Doshi said. “Even what may seem scary, and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if that’s my path.’ I mean, try it! And if it’s not going to work you can always take another turn. Don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out now. Say yes to this, you know, and see where it leads you.” 

 

Correction: A previous version of the article misidentified Priya Doshi’s role in the Office of the Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty. She serves as the associate dean of faculty and inclusive excellence within the office while the deputy provost and dean of faculty are other roles.

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