Diversity on Scientopia: Ok, let's have at it.

Aug 06 2010 Published by under BlogBlather, Diversity in Science

You know me, always a fan of discussing contentious issues. Remember this old post which went up at ScienceBlogs.com?


WhiteBloggers.jpg

Therein lies the question of the moment. What ARE the expectations of the Sb readership? That Sb bloggers should be predominantly white, male heteronormative USians? In which case, no problem: Expectations met. Ok, I exaggerate, the above figure and the full post/website that is linked make the case mostly for the "white" charge. Admittedly there are a number of pseuds around here but the numbers for which the approximate relative skin reflectance is unknown (to me and other Sb'ers) is vanishingly small. It is unlikely that the addition of the pictures of all the pseudonymous bloggers to the "AryanBlogs?" site would do much to counter the claim.

Well, a thread over at ScientistMother's place points out the obvious.

We haven't done much better here at Scientopia.

My thoughts on this are...
-We recognize this. Not just as individuals but as a collective.
-Not everyone that was invited to Scientopia felt that this was the place for them
-From the perspective of someone who has been on a number of academic institution's "Enhancing Diversity" committees, this stuff is not by any means easy to accomplish. The numbers in the science blogging community are certainly not substantially better than elsewhere in science.
-On a more generalized aspect of diversity- from topics to people, well, we're small. Our expansion plan is...not. Our dust is settling.
-As Dorothea pointed out at ScientistMother's thread, we are really (really, really) flattered that so many bloggers intimate that they'd like to join Scientopia. My fellow Scientopians, let's not forget this, eh?

Final charge to you, DearReader. While I do ask you to understand we're just getting launched here, do keep our feet to the fire, eh? I would expect nothing else of you.

51 responses so far

  • EMJ says:

    Two suggestions: FeteSociety and PrancingPapio. There are many others but those two jump immediately to mind.

  • AmoebaMike says:

    As a white, American male...

    In ~MY~ experience, most science bloggers are white and most bloggers ~I~ bump into are from the British Empire (American, English, Canadian, Australian).

    I can say that besides communicating in English (the only language I understand), being of a certain sex, race, or religion is of zero interest to me as a reader. I care if what they have to say is interesting to me. In addition to regularly following and reading a handful of science bloggers that write what I can understand and find interesting, I also want to get to know them on a personal level. Again, I don't think it matters their background at that point.

    I understand WHY diversity is important, but I don't think diversity for the sake of diversity does much for you. In other words, you need to find people you think fit your community as opposed to just finding warm bodies that meet the quota.

  • Karen says:

    Personally, I would love to see a little more diversity, and I'm glad you folks are keeping an eye on it. At least there are a fair number of women....

    Science blogs should be focused on science, but different people provide different perspectives, which is both interesting to the reader and helpful for identifying areas of study that the predominant culture might overlook. Diversity isn't just a PC, feel-good thing; it has actual value, for science and for most other situations too. In my opinion.

  • Yoder says:

    I'm reminded of a comment I heard in regard to The Daily Show's lack (or non-lack) of female contributors and correspondents: it may not be enough to be as non-sexist/racist/whatever-ist in recruiting, if the pool from which you're recruiting is already shaped by sexism/racism/whatever-ism. That is, if Scientopia (or science blogging in general) isn't very diverse because science itself isn't very diverse, then it's not enough to blame the broader field—maybe science blogging needs to find ways to try to change the broader field.

    That doesn't mean setting a quota for non-white/male/Anglophone bloggers (although there's a benefit to bringing diverse role models to the forefront) but it does mean finding ways to improve outreach to non-white/male/Anglophone students who might become scientists. For instance, are there minority-focused science education programs we could contribute toward, in some sort of organized way?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I don’t think diversity for the sake of diversity does much for you.

    I disagree. I disagree because diversity for the sake of diversity has downstream effects whereby we can get to what we might think of as the unthinking and genuine diversity we would like to end up with.

    Consider
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2010/07/02/who-is-a-scientist/
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2009/03/23/major-jack-willie-and-warren/
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2008/08/29/thanks-doc/

    and of course take a look at these posts here:
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2009/02/24/diversity-in-science-carnival-1-is-up/
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2009/10/16/diversity-in-science-carnival-3-celebrating-hispanic-heritage-month/

    What I believe emerges from this is a demonstration of "fake it til you make it" when it comes to diversity. Mechanisms which put a less homogeneous face on previously unified institutions have definable effects. Slow in some cases, but they are clearly there.

    This is why I am fully in support of quotas, tokenism and related practices. These are things that forces which in fact oppose diversity of opportunity have managed to smear to the point that the folks on the diversity side have abandoned them. Cowardly, that.

  • Dirk Hanson says:

    How many science bloggers over the age of 50 do you have at Scientopia?

  • Ing says:

    Diversity, schmiversity. Skin color or presumed (or claimed or actual) ethnic origin mean almost nothing in the context of science blogging.

    I don't give a rat's ass *who* is doing science or blogging about it, as long as they're doing it well. If you have a diversity of scientific approaches and opinions and a universal ability to put them into writing, then your blogging community has everything that really matters.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Yeah, well, obviously opinions vary on that lng.

  • Dan says:

    I enjoy reading blogs with an "original voice." All sorts of diversity (professional, dispositional, and demographic) make this originality more likely, so yay for diversity. Given that, my diversity expectations from scientopia are not very high because a new, (currently small) voluntary blog community would be expected to be born out of commonalities.
    Generally there are web rings (often via blogrolls) that could help in identifying likely additional scientopians. The other possibility is to encourage IRL colleagues to take up blogging, though I'm not sure what the value proposition would be there.

  • Kate says:

    Web rings? I thought those went out with geocities.

    DM, thanks for this post and already providing additional justification in the comments. The "I don't care if the bloggers I read are diverse" sounds so much to me like "I don't see race," and while I respect that that is not the intent of those commenters, to people of color, women, parents, those who write about diversity in science as well as science, etc, it effectively provides the perception of devaluing the contribution we make.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I always figure it isn't polite to ask, Dirk!

  • Tom T. says:

    It's interesting to see how much Scientopia's rationales follow what one hears from business and industry. "We're a work in progress." "There just aren't that many minorities [with a finance degree] [in law school]." "We can't help it if minorities turn us down (i.e., I can't imagine why they'd find us unwelcoming)."

    I'm not saying that Scientopia is necessarily doing anything wrong, just that it's worth thinking about how these statements would sound when coming from other sources.

  • Hope says:

    This is why I am fully in support of quotas, tokenism and related practices. These are things that forces which in fact oppose diversity of opportunity have managed to smear to the point that the folks on the diversity side have abandoned them. Cowardly, that.

    I suppose that this is easy to say when you have never been the token and haven’t experienced the negative aspects of “quotas, tokenism and related practices” first-hand.

  • Hope says:

    Just for the record, being Hispanic and a woman has not at all affected the way I do math or quantum mechanics, or the questions that I’ve decided to address. Making a blanket statement about the impact of gender/ethnicity/race on "Science" is not a good idea, because depending on the field and/or individual, there may not be much of an effect at all.

  • Mel says:

    Well, this depends on whether or not diversity is actually a priority here, or just something to occasionally navel gaze about. If you really want diversity, be it national, ethnic, etc. Then go out and get it. It's not that hard, really.

    It would be interesting to see what the demographics is for the readers here.

  • zuska says:

    Yeah, yeah, I just read for the science. I don't care who's doing the writing, it makes no difference to me.

    It is just a pure accident that these sorts of statements are most commonly made by the types of folks who are most commonly represented in the science community at large. And probably also purely accidental that the folks for whom it does matter who is doing the writing, are those who are less well represented.

    No, wait, those Other folks are all driven by identity politics and trying to Ruin Science!!! If only they could see that it makes absolutely no difference who is doing the talking, and just be content with the same voices we all hear all the time, and learn to see themselves everywhere they look around, just the the white d00ds do.

  • becca says:

    So, are the people refusing you doing you the favor of telling you why? And, though I'm not sure how you'd measure it, are people who you would particularly think would increase your diversity less likely to be interested in joining you?

  • Isabel says:

    Socioeconomic background is left out of the diversity discussion as usual. All my work has been in vain!

    "DrugMonkey says:
    August 6, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I always figure it isn’t polite to ask, Dirk!"

    It is apparently rude to ask SES background as well (also okay to refuse to reveal it on-line while making proclamations about it or shrugging off its importance).

    It's also rude to discuss religion (and Jewish over-representation), and political diversity is not desired.

    No one even knows what THEY mean by diversity, let alone what anybody else means.

    Incidentally, why NOT reserve spots for women and non-whites, and simply not take any more white men? People naturally resist joining groups where they are outsiders - it's not going to happen on its own.

    What is the big deal? There are plenty of women, gays, and PoC in science. You will just have to make an effort. As far as Blacks, there is a real shortage, but my advice based on experience on how to improve that situation has led to much harassment, so I won't bother repeating it.

    I really wonder how sincere you people are sometimes!!

  • Isabel says:

    "It would be interesting to see what the demographics is for the readers here."

    Yes, and please include SES and religion in the survey.

  • Mel says:

    "As far as Blacks, there is a real shortage, but my advice based on experience on how to improve that situation has led to much harassment, so I won’t bother repeating it."

    Now you've got me curious. Anywhere I can read your advice?

  • Let me give my personal opinion on the benefits of diversity for diversity's sake: it opens the door for true diversity - diversity that reflects overall population distribution.

    Many DM readers know that I'm a white d00d science prof at a historically-Black university. We do a lot of recruitment out in our communities where the university, a traditionally strong liberal arts school, has drawn its student body that ranges 75-80% of people self-identifying as African-American. When I go out on such trips, as I did yesterday, I find that the best professional-oriented students around the state largely cite being a lawyer, physician, businessperson, or nurse as their top choices for a career. Why? Because those are the Black leaders they see in the community. They don't commonly see Black chemists, Black pharmacologists, Black engineers.

    So, we bring them into our labs and show them that people just like them - regular people - moms, dads, brothers, sisters, who still like music, sports, cars, arts, clothes, church, etc. - can be chemists, pharmacologists, and bioengineers. Current law and MBA students come over and tell us they never knew that "science" could be a "Black" career choice. As Zuska notes above, this is something that cannot be easily understood by members of the power-dominant groups but I have been incredibly fortunate to see it work. This is not exactly "fake it til you make it" but rather illustrating that members of the underepresented groups don't fully appreciate their choices until they have role models in those less visible positions (see E. Blackburn -> C. Greider)

    As for Dirk's point about bloggers over 50, I think we would all agree that Revere was the epitomy of the self-identified older blogger - not the old prof in your dept who still can't use e-mail. His public health blogging was as top-notch as his science but his perspective on being an activist doc in the 60s was unparalleled, and missed greatly. We (the blogosphere) are also slowly pulling more of these kinds of folks out of the woodwork as well - and some of us, cough, are uncomfortably close to the 50+ demographic.

  • Rhonda says:

    The lack of diversity at Scientopia is a reflection of the lack of minorities and women entering STEM fields. There are a lot of programs out there whose goal is to attract more minorities and women into these fields. Unfortunately for us now, there is a lack of diversity today due to our history as a nation--minorities and women were discouraged to continue eduation past grade school and/or high school. As time goes by, the science field will become a reflection of our population. If you truly want to help, find an organization and join, donate money, or better yet, find a child to mentor!

  • Vicki says:

    There seem to be a lot of people out there who will insist that diversity is irrelevant, and that they don't care whether the bloggers they're reading are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or from other groups; what gender they are; and so on, but who think it is Very Important to make clear that they don't care.

    If you really don't care, you don't care. And if you don't care about something, you'll be posting about it as often as I post about the White Sox lineup (never). Those "don't care" posters see the potential for harm to themselves in some form. Maybe they're right, but I'd like to see them say so, in so many words. Not "I don't care about diversity," but identify what harm they think it does.

  • antipodean says:

    You and the commenters are also employing a completely americentric definition of what you think 'diversity' is. It's not just about the colour of one's skin and the forces allowed to shape STEM workforces in america are not automatically the same forces that shape STEM workforces in other nations.

    The fact that a particular american version of diversity is being handwrung here at scientopia means that when you acheive diversity nobody else will be able to recognise it as such.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    If people from outside the States seriously cannot distinguish why we feel it is important to have the "americentric definition" of diversity then I feel sorry for them. That is some serious lack of imagination.

    Yes, perhaps were are indeed americentric or north americentric. That is one dimension of diversity and sure, we are not scoring so well on that either. But to suggest that if we do not achieve national diversity then there is no point in achieving "americentric diversity" is complete nonsense.

    Almost like saying that it is impossible for those interested in ethnic minority diversity to recognize the fact that we have decent gender representation. I mean, sure, it is possible to overlook it but it is a bit churlish to do so.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Hope: I suppose that this is easy to say when you have never been the token and haven’t experienced the negative aspects of “quotas, tokenism and related practices” first-hand.

    Perhaps. But I see very little way around the fact that some people are going to have to be the first few to enter a given workplace, profession, subfield, what have you. And the mere presence of those makes it easier for the next few. And so on. By iteration we start to approach the goal of unthinking diversity where what we might call artificial practices are unnecessary.

    If you are questioning whether any given individual is being requested to be happy with actually being said token, please review this comment. I most certainly do not insist that any individual needs to take a job, enter a school or associate with random internet clowns in a way that makes them uncomfortable. I don't think it is possible for those who want to instantly slot into an entirely comfortable situation to find that unless somebody else has stepped up to the plate previously, but that is not the same as insisting that each person needs to be willing and able to be the token for any given situation.

    I do not in the slightest fault any individual who may have chosen not to join (or have chosen to leave) Sb or NatNet or LabSpaces or Scientopia because he or she felt that they were being asked as a token or for quota filling purposes. I'm just suggesting that for structures such as the collectivized science blogosphere to become more comfortable, there is going to have to be overt face diversity in place. By whatever means necessary.

    Just for the record, being Hispanic and a woman has not at all affected the way I do math or quantum mechanics, or the questions that I’ve decided to address.

    I make it pretty clear that my goals on diversity have to do with diversity of opportunity / attractiveness of scientific careers. This is based on my belief that we need the best talent and that any artificial barriers work against that. I want the normal lures science holds for those with interest and aptitude to go to work on as much of the population as possible. I am relatively less interested in any suggestion that there is anything about specific group characteristics which a potential scientist expresses that has bearing on the type of sc ience that s/he works on.

  • Isabel says:

    "The lack of diversity at Scientopia is a reflection of the lack of minorities and women entering STEM fields."

    Not sure at what point you would say someone is entering a field, but as far as undergrads and grads are concerned this is not true in the biological sciences in the US, and hasn't been for quite a while. Asian-Americans and women undergrads are in the majority (though they often tend to be headed for medical school rather than PhD programs), and are well-represented in grad schools.

    In the undergrad classes I TA at a public university whites are actually dramatically under-represented, compared to the populations in both the state and US, as are Hispanics and Blacks (who are the most under-represented).

    In the grad programs, white males are probably the largest group, though not the majority; women (of all races) are still in the majority, and those from upper-middle class (all races) and Jewish backgrounds continue to be vastly over-represented compared to the general population. There are very few blacks, many programs have none.

    It is not a simple picture, and I don't know that just waiting for these students to continue down the pipeline is automatically going to lead to diversity that reflects the population (which imo would indicate equal opportunity and encouragement), especially as far as Blacks go.

    "due to our history as a nation–minorities and women were discouraged to continue education past grade school and/or high school"

    and working class white men (i.e. the majority of white men) were treated similarly, although they would have been more welcome than other groups if they managed to somehow get an education.

    "If you truly want to help, find an organization and join, donate money, or better yet, find a child to mentor!"

    I've given up on this, but good luck.

  • Isabel says:

    Also, I realize the student population does not necessarily correlate with the successful academic population, but it does indicate that it is not just a matter of outreach to young people, at least as far as women and Asian-Americans go. And while the Biological sciences may be unusual in this sense, compared to other STEM fields, even in this field it has not yet, after many years, led to real diversity. For example, the participation of women continues to drop dramatically after PhD programs. This is why I originally voiced my suspicions above, and tend to be cynical about 'outreach' etc.

    Mel, I don't know where to link you to, but I would hint that the over-represented groups, especially the 'non-whites' and other previously discriminated against groups may have something useful to teach us.

  • antipodean says:

    That is some serious lack of imagination.

    Imagination is just another version of introspection. I am merely suggesting that some circumspection might provide different types of diversity and that which you are looking for.

  • Isis says:

    The lack of diversity at Scientopia is a reflection of the lack of minorities and women entering STEM fields.

    No it doesn't. It reflects to makeup of the groups of people the bloggers here hang out with.

    Just for the record, being Hispanic and a woman has not at all affected the way I do math or quantum mechanics, or the questions that I’ve decided to address.

    I don't see why being Hispanic shouldn't inform these things. My upbringing has certainly influenced the types of questions I choose to address.

  • Hope says:

    @DM: First of all, my second comment (the one beginning with “Just for the record”) was a direct response to Karen, although that is a claim that I've heard many times before (e.g., Isis above), but perhaps not from you. When you got rid of nested comments, that reference was lost.

    I think that the best and strongest argument for diversity is that in a just society, everyone should have a shot at entering whatever profession they wish, not just those with the right gender/ethnicity/race. Of course, it’s hard to argue that it’s all about fairness and then proclaim, “But we will achieve diversity through any means, fair or not!”

    It’s always “uncomfortable” being the first one through the door. But there is a *big* difference in the discomfort one feels being the only female member of a team but knowing you are qualified to be there; and being promoted early, before you’re ready, into senior management just because the company wanted a woman in that slot. The presence of another minority only makes it easier for the next one if that first person is successful.

    But hey, if you and your blog friends are so convinced that “diversity for diversity’s sake” is they way to go, then put your money where your mouth is. Set up quotas on Scientopia and meet them – that kind of diversity isn’t that hard to attain. You have relatively little to lose in this setting.

  • Hope says:

    @Isis: I don’t see why being Hispanic shouldn’t inform these things. My upbringing has certainly influenced the types of questions I choose to address.

    Did you read the sentence immediately following the one you quote, where I say: Making a blanket statement about the impact of gender/ethnicity/race on “Science” is not a good idea, because depending on the field and/or individual, there may not be much of an effect at all?

    The point is that while being Hispanic might influence the questions that *you* choose to ask, this does not make it so for *all* Hispanics or minorities. Were I in a different area of science, perhaps my ethnicity would have more of an impact on my work – but it just doesn’t.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Of course, it’s hard to argue that it’s all about fairness and then proclaim, “But we will achieve diversity through any means, fair or not!”

    Nonsense. This is a right wing anti-diversity talking point. It is bullshit. The destination is fairness. When we are in a current situation of decided unfairness on a structural and population wide basis, to argue that the solution must be "fair" to each and every individual person who might be dis-advantaged (and I mean that in the sense of removing their current advantage) is to road block solutions. It is a continued problem, in the US anyway, that higher minded, progressive and modernizing viewpoints hobble themselves voluntarily with disingenuous bindings invented by their opposition!

    if you and your blog friends are so convinced that “diversity for diversity’s sake” is they way to go, then put your money where your mouth is. Set up quotas on Scientopia and meet them – that kind of diversity isn’t that hard to attain.

    Yes, it is hard to attain. As I've mentioned, I've been involved with institutional attempts at enhancing diversity at every major career stop from undergraduate onward to my current position. I have, at times, been the one talking exactly this line- put your money where your mouth is, this is easy, etc. It is not easy. There are many and varied reasons why primarily white institutions are not attractive to minorities and they are not overcome by waving any magic wands.

    I never said that my viewpoints on diversity, the importance thereof and the methods to attain it coincide exactly with anyone other than myself. Scientopia is a collective and I am one voice among many. The fact that I spout off about diversity does not make me any more or less influential than anyone else.

    Finally, you are not listening to my point about a difference between knowing that having overt, visible diversity is ultimately the only proven strategy for incremental advance and insisting that any given person must needs volunteer to be the groundbreaker. Plus, an issue I have not addressed, is that yes, there are ways that institutions can moderately enhance the willingness of persons of less-represented status to be that first volunteer. There are others, btw, that believe that this is the only tried and true method- I just happen to disagree. For cause, but I suspect they think they have cause as well.

  • Isabel says:

    "everyone should have a shot at entering whatever profession they wish, not just those with the right gender/ethnicity/race. "

    Or class. Is it really fair that upper class students are so vastly over-represented?

    "The fact that I spout off about diversity does not make me any more or less influential than anyone else. "

    But what have you really stated specifically about how YOU would define diversity, besides that this diversity should be 'visible?'

    "There are many and varied reasons why primarily white institutions are not attractive to minorities and they are not overcome by waving any magic wands. "

    Do you really think there is a ready supply of qualified black candidates for science PhD programs, even undergraduate programs that can qualify students for PhD programs or med school, that could bring the numbers up to 12% in the US if only the institutions make themselves 'attractive'?

    " primarily white institutions "

    White faculty, or white students?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Do you really think there is a ready supply of qualified black candidates for science PhD programs, even undergraduate programs that can qualify students for PhD programs or med school, that could bring the numbers up to 12% in the US if only the institutions make themselves ‘attractive’?

    when did I say that?

    White faculty, or white students?

    either, both or hell, even institutions that might not even be occupied by pluralities of white men but are perceived as "white institutions" by the relevant people. what's your point?

    Is it really fair that upper class students are so vastly over-represented?

    no. what's your point? that holding socioeconomic status equal, whites aren't still advantaged? cause that is false. That for a given socioeconomic strata line the relative proportions of the white, black, tan, whathave you distributions are exactly the same? false too.

  • Isabel says:

    "when did I say that? "

    You didn't, but all your 'solutions' involve making the institutions more 'attractive' as if THAT is THE problem. I am asking if you think that it is, ad that if we achieved that the problem would be solved.

    "whites aren’t still advantaged?"

    when did I say that?

    I think my point was pretty obvious. Do I really need to explain it again?????? Aren't we discussing 'fairness'? Are YOU saying you, or the other commenters, don't mind the lack of socioeconomic diversity?

    "that holding socioeconomic status equal, whites aren’t still advantaged? cause that is false. "

    DUH. And totally irrelevant to my point.

    I am saying, now I know this is REALLY radical, and REALLY complicated, is that holding race equal, certain classes have an advantage. Get it?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    holding race equal, certain classes have an advantage. Get it?

    yup. funny how you always need to bring this up whenever we are talking about racial and ethnic diversity and all. one might almost think you were intentionally trying to derail the focus away from...naah, that couldn't be it.

    I am asking if you think that it is, ad that if we achieved that the problem would be solved.

    I think you have a very limited concept about making predominantly white institutions "attractive" and open to underrepresented persons. I am referring to the entire developmental timeline from when a kid who might eventually be a great scientist is born until she retires from her chosen profession. There is no need to be specific. Now certainly, a given institution inhabits a limited place in this timeline and can only do so many things. To throw up the hands and only place the blame on (or demand solutions from) some other part of the picture is unduly defeatist in my view.

  • Isabel says:

    "one might almost think you were intentionally trying to derail"

    Just include it. Is that a problem? Can you handle a third category, especially a major one? Without resorting to accusations of 'derailing'? And you didn't say you were only discussing 'race and sex and all' (what does the 'all' refer to) as you now claim; in fact, you even included 'heteronormative' in your OP. But as usual unpacking race and class is taboo. Traditionally, science was the province of rich white men, not all white men. Upper class white men were encouraged to go to college, not all white men. Etc. I am not talking about a small, insignificant ommission...or do you think I am? Is that what you are saying?

    Say the vast majority of grad students are from a minority (advantaged group) in a population. Aren't we interested in this? Perhaps you think the lower classes are just inferior versions of the upper classes and have nothing to add diversity-wise. I strongly disagree - I also think the lack of a working class perspective is a major problem with major political ramifications, and of course it is extremely unfair, which seems to be a concern of yours. Or is it?

    I am not trying to derail anything. I think there should be diversity, but FULL diversity.

    "from when a kid who might eventually be a great scientist is born "

    Right. This is my point. Thank you.

    "predominantly white institutions "

    Or "perceived" as predominately white. Maybe correcting the perception where it is inaccurate would be a start, along with honest discussion of exactly who is represented, over-represented, and under-represented, and why those particular groups fall into those categories. And also a specific vision of what that diversity would 'look like' in a given, or in an ideal institution.

  • Hope says:

    DM, it’s you that’s not listening. How you go about trying to achieve diversity matters – the end doesn’t always justify the means. Have quotas ever been successful in achieving true diversity – the kind that doesn’t go away as soon as you stop enforcing the quotas? In fact, I can’t believe that someone who’s witnessed the backlash against affirmative action in recent years could think that quotas are a good strategy in this day and age.

    As for your point about groundbreakers, the best people, in general, tend to have the most options. I know many eminently qualified women who don’t hesitate to be groundbreakers when they feel that they have every right to be somewhere. But I know very few that would be OK going somewhere when it’s clear that the main reason they’re wanted is their gender. Maybe that should tell you something about the viability of your strategy.

  • Samia says:

    Hope +1. Basically everything you said. Thank you. Posts and comment threads like this always frustrate me.

    For some reason I got an offer to join this site, and I made it pretty clear why I was not interested. The response I got didn't validate or even address any of my concerns, and the comments here are confirming I made the right decision. Y'all have fun.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Have quotas ever been successful in achieving true diversity – the kind that doesn’t go away as soon as you stop enforcing the quotas?

    not a fair question give that actual quotas are not in place in many situations in which opponents of diversity cry "quotas!" and also given that multi-pronged attacks are almost always in place. so identifying single causes as having been the key to success is quite difficult. I made it clear I was talking about an incremental process. But yes, for damn sure Willie O'Ree and Jackie Robinson were given their opportunities by sports owners who thought "Now is the time to give a black guy a chance" with full knowledge that they were doing it because he was black. Ditto Doug whassisname with the Redskins*. I can't say that all sports are at true diversity but the NHL and MLB are a heck of a lot more diverse now than before Mssrs Robinson and O'Ree suffered the great insult of tokenism.

    I can’t believe that someone who’s witnessed the backlash against affirmative action in recent years

    AAAGHH! There you go again letting the forces of anti-diversity dictate the terms of the debate. "Backlash" has nothing to do with the actual mechanism of encouraging or enhancing diversity. It doesn't matter what you do, if you give a job or position to one person, another is going to whine about how unfair it is. Those who are complaining about affirmative action (whether by quotas or any other mechanism) being "unfair" are not interested in diversity of opportunity. Note how nobody whining about quotas has any pro-diversity proposals of their own? Apart from a Colbertesque "we just need to stop seeing race" that is.

    Lemme tell you, there was one hell of a "backlash" when Truman integrated the armed services in the US. He did it full knowing there were going to be objections. And what do you know? At present the armed services are frequently mentioned as being one of our greatest integration successes in this country. I'm sure it isn't perfect but riding roughshod over fears of "backlash" had bang-up consequences in the end.

    *and yeah, seriously, the fucking "Redskins" as the nation's capitol's mascot for NFL team?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    oh and with respect to this,

    But I know very few that would be OK going somewhere when it’s clear that the main reason they’re wanted is their gender.

    I'll counter with the fact that I know of many people who have gone ahead and taken the "Dean's hire" or other jobs in which is was pretty damn clear to all it was an affirmative action hire to shore up their tan or XX quotient or whatever. Maybe that should tell you, in turn, something about the generality of your position. Some people are willing to step up and some are not, in these situations. As I have said repeatedly, I make no assertions that any individual should or should not be willing to take such opportunities. What I say is that those who do step up, have very lasting and beneficial consequences for the overall progress.

  • physioprof says:

    But I know very few that would be OK going somewhere when it’s clear that the main reason they’re wanted is their gender.

    Whaddya think they'd do if it were take the "quota" hire or get no fucken jobbe?

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Samia -- Can you say a little more about what your concerns were?

  • Hope says:

    But yes, for damn sure Willie O’Ree and Jackie Robinson were given their opportunities by sports owners who thought “Now is the time to give a black guy a chance” with full knowledge that they were doing it because he was black.

    Well, I’m no sports fan, but you don’t think that the fact that O’Ree and Robinson had some actual talent had anything to do with the owners’ decisions? How do you think things would have worked out if these people had not been able to play at that level?

    AAAGHH! There you go again letting the forces of anti-diversity dictate the terms of the debate….

    You’re right, this “backlash” is just more anti-diversity spin. Nothing really happened in MI or CA – life goes on as before. Oh, and of course, every single person that was unhappy with the way AA was being implemented and wanted to change it was against diversity. So glad I’ve been wasting my time talking to someone who has such a nuanced view of the situation….

    And finally: I know of many people who have gone ahead and taken the “Dean’s hire” or other jobs in which is was pretty damn clear to all it was an affirmative action hire to shore up their tan or XX quotient or whatever. Maybe that should tell you, in turn, something about the generality of your position.

    So, if “many people” have no problem, no moral qualms, about “stepping up” in this way, explain to me again why it’s so hard to achieve diversity, even with quotas? I mean, where the hell are these “many people” when you need them?

  • Hope says:

    PP, as I said, the best people tend to have the most options.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    How do you think things would have worked out if these people had not been able to play at that level?

    O'Ree couldn't, Robinson could. We could debate the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, etc and ask whether some other African diaspora NHL player is a better example. But as to the main point, I'm not saying jack squat about anything that requires getting people who cannot "play at that level". You are once again mouthing anti-diversity talking points at me.

    I will take this opportunity, however, to remind of an old saw from the equal rights (for women) era that we will have achieved true diversity when [insert X] who is just as *bad* as the worst white male heteronormative dude is hired without remark.

    Nothing really happened in MI or CA – life goes on as before.

    Nice try. I never said that anti-diversity talking points didn't work. and in point of fact, their very efficacy is why I argue that you, assuming you are pro-diversity, should not use them.

    every single person that was unhappy with the way AA was being implemented and wanted to change it was against diversity

    I didn't say that either. I am perfectly comfortable, however, arguing my end in favor of overt face diversity by any means necessary. You, OTOH, are criticizing me without addressing how anti-quota, anti-token arguments work to enhance diversity goals. I'm all ears on that one.

    explain to me again why it’s so hard to achieve diversity,

    Because "many"* falls far short of being enough and is only in context of those affirmative action jobs that are made available. This latter is a vastly insufficient number as well.

    *and of course you know perfectly well that was merely a semi-sarcastic response to your deployment of "very few".

  • Samia says:

    I've already said my piece (at length, I might add) to the person who invited me. And I was pretty much met with "Have a nice life." That, along with the quality of discourse on the pre-launch forum, told me all I needed to know about how my voice is valued by some people.

    For a split second, I was mildly interested in the chance to garner a larger readership, but in the end I saw no real incentive to join. There's nothing I can say as a "Scientopian" (lol) that I can't at my own place. I've been piled on before, I've been shouted over, and it's just not fun. For me, blogging is a fun thing I do for myself, not Srs Bzns That Is Changing the World. I'd rather do my thing in a space that is completely my own, that feels safe, where I don't have to associate with people who've shown no respect for me in the past.

    I definitely don't feel like I missed some giant opportunity or anything. Maybe some other bloggers just weren't interested either?

  • J says:

    Maybe if you stopped blaming people of color for your diversity issues, you'd have more folks willing to join? Or maybe if you focused on the work of scientists of color without patting yourselves on the back and being like SEE?? WE'RE CELEBRATING HISPANIC SCIENTISTS! You need to do the work first before you expect others to want to join in.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Why do you think I am "blaming" anyone for our "diversity issues"?

    Or maybe if you focused on the work of scientists of color without patting yourselves on the back and being like SEE?? WE’RE CELEBRATING HISPANIC SCIENTISTS! You need to do the work first before you expect others to want to join in.

    Uh-huh. So I take it you are displeased by my participation in the Diversity in Science carnivals? And discussing issues of diversity in science as they affect careers and the tribe of science- which if you haven't noticed is my main blog focus, not straight up blogging of scientific papers. And I take it you fail to notice the times that I do link to and discuss bloggy goodness on some blog of a person that happens to be underrepresented without specific comment?

  • Minerva says:

    Yes! Finally someone writes about consolidate mortgage.

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