Diversity statements from faculty candidates are an unfair test of ideology?

Apr 30 2018 Published by under Academics, Underrepresented Groups

Someone on the twitts posted an objection:

to UCSD's policy of requiring applicants for faculty positions to supply a Statement of Contribution to Diversity with their application.

Mark J Perry linked to his own blog piece posted at the American Enterprise Institute* with the following observation:

All applicants for faculty positions at UCSD now required to submit a Contribution to Diversity Statement (aka Ideological Conformity Statements/Pledge of Allegiance to Left-Liberal Orthodoxy Statements)

Then some other twitter person chimed in with opinion on how this policy was unfair because it was so difficult for him to help his postdocs students with it.


Huh? A simple google search lands us on UCSD's page on this topic.

The Contributions to Diversity Statement should describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It should demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s mission to meet the educational needs of our diverse student population.

The page has links to a full set of guidelines [PDF] as well as specific examples in Biology, Engineering and Physical Sciences (hmm, I wonder if these are the disciplines they find need the most help?). I took a look at the guidelines and examples. It's pretty easy sailing. Sorry, but any PI who is complaining that they cannot help their postdocs figure out how to write the required statement are lying being disingenuous. What they really mean is that they disagree with having to prepare such a statement at all.

Like this guy Bieniasz, points for honesty:


I am particularly perplexed with this assertion that "The UCSD statement instructions (Part A) read like a test of opinions/ideology. Not appropriate for a faculty application".

Ok, so is it a test of opinion/ideology? Let's go to the guidelines provided by UCSD.

Describe your understanding of the barriers that exist for historically under-represented groups in higher education and/or your field. This may be evidenced by personal experience and educational background. For purposes of evaluating contributions to diversity, under-represented groups (URGs) includes under-represented ethnic or racial minorities (URM), women, LGBTQ, first-generation college, people with disabilities, and people from underprivileged backgrounds.

Pretty simple. Are you able to understand facts that have been well established in academia? This only asks you to describe your understanding. That's it. If you are not aware of any of these barriers *cough*Ginther*cough*cough*, you are deficient as a candidate for a position as a University professor.

So the first part of this is merely asking if the candidate is aware of things about academia that are incredibly well documented. Facts. These are sort of important for Professors and any University is well within it's rights to probe factual knowledge. This part does not ask anything about causes or solutions.

Now the other parts do ask you about your past activities and future plans to contribute to diversity and equity. Significantly, it starts with this friendly acceptance: "Some faculty candidates may not have substantial past activities. If such cases, we recommend focusing on future plans in your statement.". See? It isn't a rule-out type of thing, it allows for candidates to realize their deficits right now and to make a statement about what they might do in the future.

Let's stop right there. This is not different in any way to the other major components of a professorial hire application package. For most of my audience, the "evidence of teaching experience and philosophy" is probably the more understandable example. Many postdocs with excellent science chops have pretty minimal teaching experience. Is it somehow unfair to ask them about their experience and philosophy? To give credit for those with experience and to ask those without to have at least thought about what they might do as a future professor?

Is it "liberal orthodoxy" if a person who insists that teaching is a waste of time and gets in the way of their real purpose (research) gets pushed downward on the priority list for the job?

What about service? Is it rude to ask a candidate for evidence of service to their Institutions and academic societies?

Is it unfair to prioritize candidates with a more complete record of accomplishment than those without? Of course it is fair.

What about scientific discipline, subfield, research orientations and theoretical underpinnings? Totally okay to ask candidates about these things.

Are those somehow "loyalty pledges"? or a requirement to "conform to orthodoxy"?

If they are, then we've been doing that in the academy a fair bit with nary a peep from these right wing think tank types.

__
*"Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus." This is a political opinion-making "think-tank" so take that into consideration.

84 responses so far

  • Anon says:

    On the surface, these statements are straightforward.

    Once you get into it, it isn't so straightforward. Here's a scenario that happened in my department (with details slightly changed to protect anonymity):

    All of our finalists submitted perfectly fine statements about their experience working with diverse groups of students and colleagues, and what they've learned from it and how they are committed to doing so going forward. OK, great.

    Well, one Woke Colleague (not much melanin, plenty of testosterone) notes that one of them spoke much more in-depth about their understanding of structural barriers and disadvantage, while the other was more bland and a bit too committed to individualistic approaches rather than recognition of structural barriers. And some of this (in Woke Dude's opinion) came across in the interview. While the one who spoke about structural issues also reflected that in the interview.

    OK, favor the one with the more in-depth understanding, right?

    Well, the one with the more in-depth talk about diversity has parents from the upper tiers of academia. (Academia is a small world...) This person grew up learning how high-status academics talk about things, and what impresses them. The other person is a first-generation college student from a poor rural area of a developing country. Not somebody who spent their entire life learning how to discuss sensitive topics with high-status individuals. So you ask one of them to write an essay on how they approach sensitive issues of diversity and they exactly hit the points that people on the cutting edge of diversity issues talk about, and you ask the other to write the same essay and they offer something that was reasonable and sincere but wasn't hitting all the points.

    Both of them came across as respectful when interacting with people from various backgrounds during the interview.

    You can guess which one the Woke Colleague pushed hard for.

  • Almost tenured PI says:

    I'll start off by saying that I don't disagree with this in principle because I think the sentiment behind requiring this statement is good. However, I wish they wouldn't ask about contributions the applicants have already made to promote diversity, at least for positions for brand new assistant professors. Grad students and especially postdocs have very little power to influence such things. Similarly, the ability to work with URMs when in these training positions depends on the location and demographics of the university.

  • Postdoc with the power to influence these things says:

    @Almost tenured
    "Grad students and especially postdocs have very little power to influence such things."

    That's simply not true. Trainees can mentor undergrads in the lab, volunteer to judge science fair competitions, join a peer mentoring program on their campus, visit a public school in a low-income district, engage with the URM poster session/symposia at the annual meeting of their choice (including ASCB or SfN) etc etc etc ad nauseam. The barrier to entry here is ankle height.

  • MF says:

    I went to graduate school at a small urban campus of a public university with a large minority and immigrant representation among the undergrads. I had to TA throughout grad. school and also worked at a learning resources center helping individual students who were having trouble with their coursework. As a result, I had a pretty good idea of the challenges these students faced. On the other hand, I did not have the privileges and opportunities available to grad. students at higher profile institutions. My graduate students don’t TA but some of them volunteer in local schools with a large minority population. I think it is fair to expect that grad. students and post docs may have some exposure to the issues of diversity, and that ultimately “the privilege” of having been exposed to those can help balance out other privileges available to students at elite institutions.

  • WH says:

    For those more in the know than me, how important are these statements from potential faculty candidates in the biological sciences?

  • drugmonkey says:

    For those more in the know than me, how important are these statements from potential faculty candidates in the biological sciences?

    I am not in the know but I can guarantee you that there is no way in hell these statements will be the major driver of who is hired.

  • drugmonkey says:

    So you ask one of them to write an essay on how they approach sensitive issues of diversity and they exactly hit the points that people on the cutting edge of diversity issues talk about, and you ask the other to write the same essay and they offer something that was reasonable and sincere but wasn't hitting all the points.

    Both of them came across as respectful when interacting with people from various backgrounds during the interview.

    I am unclear on where this is a problem. It sounds as though your department was able to understand the full picture on the candidates. The fact that Woke Colleague was able to use the more sophisticated academese response to try to argue for one candidate does not criticize the request for this type of Statement at all. It is *part* of the application, not the whole package.

  • drugmonkey says:

    However, I wish they wouldn't ask about contributions the applicants have already made to promote diversity, at least for positions for brand new assistant professors. Grad students and especially postdocs have very little power to influence such things. Similarly, the ability to work with URMs when in these training positions depends on the location and demographics of the university.

    I don't know that this argues against such Statements either. In fact the guidance document says something about expecting a higher standard from more experienced candidates which appears to be recognizing exactly your point. A student or postdoc can do small things and doesn't have to prove that they changed a University policy, right? I mean hell, I served on a committee about trying to enhance diversity in higher education as an *undergraduate* and I'm sure my personal power to influence anything was pretty minor, possibly nonexistent. But at least I was trying.

  • drugmonkey says:

    The barrier to entry here is ankle height.

    Word.

  • El Picador says:

    Don’t worry everyone. The main effect of Ward Connerly’s Folly was to let AsianAmerican students supplant white students all across the University of California campuses. Should not be much longer until the population suddenly rediscovers the virtues of enhancing diversity so that all the StayMadAbbys in the Golden State can get in to UC Surf Board again.

  • GM says:

    It should demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s

    What barriers?

    There is open an clearly stated bias against males, whites and normal straight people at all levels of the process, so what exactly barriers can we be speaking of with respect to women and racial and sexual minorities when everybody is desperate to hire them so that they show how much they care about diversity?

    And yes, diversity statements are a huge problem for applicants.

    You are in STEM, most likely you have been slaving in the lab and behind the computer for 10-15 years, and have been focused entirely on research, and accordingly you have not done anything about "diversity" neither do you care about it. The science is all that there is for you. As it should be. Then you have to write diversity statement showing how much you have done about diversity. What exactly are you supposed to write? You have nothing to write about. Then what?

    Yes, you do have to learn to lie skillfully if you are to be a successful PI. But this is much easier where there is at least a kernel of truth around which to pile the bullshit. Not in this case.

    It is a very real problem

  • GM says:

    Is it unfair to prioritize candidates with a more complete record of accomplishment than those without? Of course it is fair.

    We can all agree on that.

    The problem is that pushing for "diversity" and looking for people who care about "diversity" results in exactly the opposite -- the more accomplished candidates get pushed aside.

  • GM says:

    That's simply not true. Trainees can mentor undergrads in the lab, volunteer to judge science fair competitions, join a peer mentoring program on their campus, visit a public school in a low-income district, engage with the URM poster session/symposia at the annual meeting of their choice (including ASCB or SfN) etc etc etc ad nauseam. The barrier to entry here is ankle height.

    And guess what they are not doing while making all these contributions? Working on their own research....

  • drugmonkey says:

    There is open an clearly stated bias against males, whites and normal straight people at all levels of the process,

    And yet despite this the professorial ranks of academia are still heavily biased for male, white and straight (dude, "normal"? really? try not to show your slip) persons of means.

  • Postdoc with the power to influence these things says:

    *And guess what they are not doing while making all these contributions? Working on their own research....*

    I've done all those and more, in between publishing several papers in my postdoc including one as first author in a glam C/N/S journal, and my K99 just got an impact score under 15. Sooooo nah, I don't buy the rigor vs outreach bs.

  • DJMH says:

    Can you imagine working at U Mich FLINT and having trouble writing (or advising your postdocs on writing) a statement about diversity and equity?

    What's next, working at Three Mile Island and wondering aloud on the internet why people get so antsy about whether you're actually wearing your lab radiation counter?

    They're either dumb, or they're being paid to act dumb.

  • DNAman says:

    A while ago I was on a high level diversity committee. All the Deans did presentations about diversity of faculty in their school.

    School of Engineering appeared to have the worst diversity, 90%+ men faculty.

    When the Dean of Engineering was talking about diversity in his school, he sold it as the most diverse on campus. He said something like men and women in the US have very similar experiences. They eat the same food, read the same books, speak the same language, etc.

    His school of engineering had faculty who grew up in france, italy, pakistan, egypt, iran, turkey, iraq, russia, india, china, taiwan, south korea, japan, and the US.
    Engineering had the most diversity of any school on campus.

    They should be explicit about what they want: equal representation of women, minorities, and other protected classes.

    Diversity can mean very different things to different people.

  • drugmonkey says:

    They should be explicit about what they want

    Again, the UCSD thing has linked guidelines. They lead with

    It should also demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s mission to meet the educational needs of our diverse student population.

    That is pretty explicit. And while international diversity may be of interest as it is undoubtedly part of their "diverse population", this doesn't magically erase their other goals. Especially as UCSD is a *public* university serving the population of California first and foremost.

    This really isn't difficult. People who throw up this sort of chaff are, in my opinion, simply declaring their anti-diversity beliefs and attitudes. Which is fine, just be honest about it.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Can you imagine working at U Mich FLINT and having trouble writing (or advising your postdocs on writing) a statement about diversity and equity?

    I think the AEI blogger guy is the one from U Mich Flint, not the guy complaining about trouble advising his students. But yeah, to be there and be such a right wing anti-diversity warrior is pretty rich.

    ...or you know, maybe he's reflective of the powers that be in Flint and that explains why four years in they still haven't fixed the leaden water problem. Expose lots of poor black kids to lead and you can do a lot to self-fulfill your meritocracy prophesies.

  • GM says:

    And yet despite this the professorial ranks of academia are still heavily biased for male, white and straight (dude, "normal"? really? try not to show your slip) persons of means.

    Not really true. I don't know where you are and what people you are surrounded by, but sexual minorities in particular are disproportionately enriched in academia relative to the general population. There simply aren't 20-30% lesbians in the general population.

    Also, if it is still primarily white males that are making it to the top despite all the push for diversity and despite all the position openings, fellowships, grants, etc. that are specifically targeting females and sexual and racial minorities, maybe that speaks a lot about the relative quality of the white male applicants relative to the "underrepresented" groups rather than revealing a bias towards white males.

    Finally, I never hear talk about "diversity" with respect to gender studies departments where there isn't a single male faculty member to be found...

    It is laughable to speak about bias towards white males when white males are explicitly excluded from a long list of opportunities for career advancement.

    When you have a fixed-size pie and are doing affirmative action, that is by definition discrimination against the people not being subject to it. Fact.

  • GM says:

    declaring their anti-diversity beliefs and attitudes

    Oh, come on, please. You are in STEM. "Beliefs" have no place in science and diversity is absolutely irrelevant to STEM. If it is 100% cis-het white males of Anglo-Saxon descent (for the record, that does not describe me in case anyone is wondering) doing the science, with zero women and racial minorities, that does not matter at all, objective reality is objective reality and it is not going to change depending on who is investigating it.

    The fact that we are even having these discussions reveals a complete betrayal of the foundational principles on which science is founded by the very people supposed to advance it.

    Which is understandable -- most of the people working in science are not real scientists by soul, they simply work in science, and they cannot escape the ideological trappings of their upper middle class existence. And maintaining their status as belonging to that social class is apparently more important to them than science.

    But it should not be that way.

  • GM says:

    I've done all those and more, in between publishing several papers in my postdoc including one as first author in a glam C/N/S journal, and my K99 just got an impact score under 15. Sooooo nah, I don't buy the rigor vs outreach bs.

    Isn't it weird when you see people working in science arguing with anecdotes instead of looking at general statistical trends...

  • EricG says:

    If you don’t want to write the statement, don’t apply. You won’t be happy there. The school is making an effort for inclusion. Plenty of other jobs to pursue.

  • Ola says:

    @GM most of the people working in science are not real scientists by soul, they simply work in science, and they cannot escape the ideological trappings of their upper middle class existence

    Well done! You stopped short of riff raff.

    I agree with most here that the principle behind this is valid. But, I disagree with DM that it's zero effort. I doubt this was dreamt up by the faculty search committee doing the hiring. Rather, I'd be willing to bet this came from the office of the senior associate vice provost's assistant to the dean for diversity. As such it is likely that, as with most administrative issues, no thought was given to the burden this might have on applicants. As a whitey mcwhiteface from a rural white town in a white part of a mainly white northern country, I would find responding to this enterprise difficult. Not impossible (plenty to write about from more recent experiences), but certainly difficult.

    I think there could be some merit to the lay it all out there and be honest approach in cases such as mine. A simple statement that says "Hey, I didn't grow up with this diversity stuff and I'm not gonna pretend I know shit about it, but I'm wiling to learn and that's gotta count for something right? Oh and my science is cool. And oh yeah I've been dirt poor at various times in my life so I understand poverty". (hey, that was easier than I thought it'd be!)

  • zb says:

    You know in the world where I work on advancing DEI initiatives people don’t believe me when I say that people express views like Perry’s let alone GM’s. Keeping this thread to show them.

  • Zuska says:

    For sure I worked with GM (or several of his clones) in the past. I have heard every one of GM's "arguments" nearly verbatim, numerous times before. One of the most annoying things about bigotry and apologies for oppression is the tiresome repetitiveness.

    Science Uber Alles! Standards! White Men Are Being Discrminated Against! There Are Too Many Things For Those Others! Only So Much Pie To Go Around! Everyone Wants To Hire An Other, White Men Can't Get Jobs! Outreach Means You Don't REALLY Love Science! White Men Are Still In Charge? That PROVES White Men Are A Superior Race! Also, I Am Not A Bigot, You Just Hate Facts!

    I think that about covers the "argument". It is almost impossible to reason with someone committed to that gospel of bigotry and distorted reality. They are experiencing an existential threat from the existence of people and programs who do not firmly center the white male experience. And you cannot have a rational argument with someone experiencing existential threat. You can pity them. And you can deconstruct their sad worldview for others, so that young ones coming up and those with more open minds aren't poisoned by it, don't internalize it and sicken from it. But as the saying goes, don't pour out your water on a stone.

    Kudos to UCSD for creating a mechanism to give some credit in the hiring process to those young people who have thought about and do find time to contribute to diversity and equity. This is a form of institutional transformation - changing official practice and standards - and in my experience, institutional transformation drives the stoney-hearted more apeshit than a thousand outreach programs ever could.

  • Zuska says:

    @ Ola - first gen students, rural experience, class issues, socioeconomic differences all are forms of diversity that I think the UCSD statement recognizes.
    Diversity does not just equate to something like "I volunteered with a program for inner city black kids".

    This is also why it's so sad when the stoneyhearts get all up in arms about the Poor White Man. The literal poor white man (who is sometimes gay* - really! even in rural areas!) stands to benefit from programs that seriously address diversity and equity in all forms but apologists for the oppressors don't want them to know that.

    *When the stoneyhearts start whining about LGBTQ folks, you'll note they complain specifically about lesbians, because lesbians are twice as bad because of the whole not needing a man thing. I almost never hear complaints about how there are too many gay men in academia - just too many lesbians, which is a "safe" way of saying there are just too many women in general. All those women in academia are lesbians! And therefore they should only represent 5% of the faculty. If you have more than 5% women on your faculty, in the bad old days one used to complain about being feminized or emasculated but now it's that you are overrun with lesbians.

  • SidVic says:

    What if one doesn't believe that diversity of skin color or gender is a particularly laudable goal in a given area (ie math)? If they relate this on the CDS do they have a chance of getting an interview?

    "This really isn't difficult. People who throw up this sort of chaff are, in my opinion, simply declaring their anti-diversity beliefs and attitudes. Which is fine, just be honest about it."

    Related: I got nailed on my gender section of my last Ro1 appl. that didn't take long. They also groused about my rigor section.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Does “related” mean “I am incapable of following the instructions”, SidVic?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Zuska- thanks for pointing that out. I don’t think I noticed the fact that right wing nut jobs switch their main homophobia against gay men over to lesbians whenever academics is involved. I guess I always just thought it was their favored atttack on feminists of any sexual orientation. The use of made up stars should have been the tell....

  • SidVic says:

    The gender section is a pitfall waiting to happen. A sex comparison study is not necessarily straightforward and can be criticized for being done incorrectly. In my case I proposed using males. Several reasonable reasons were given. I have a colony and need the females for breeding. The question being examined involve identifying protective mechanisms. The females are already somewhat protected. So i want the lower baseline the males offer to test my manipulations on. No dice, they want a full blown gender study, i guess.

    PS Glad to see you back and in full swing.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I think I took up SABV grantsmithing a few posts back. There are some trends emerging. Sure your arguments aren’t always going to fly but there are ways to avoid obvious pitfalls. And ways to throw a bone that settle down the reviewers.

  • SidVic says:

    Oh missed question. Related means - annoying fukken PC add-on. Which requires lies or gets you in trouble. I have no intention doing a gender study if the grant gets funded. Nor would i probably intend to implement much of the BS that i came up with in a CDS.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness when it comes to NIH grant writing.

  • Ender says:

    @GM:

    Man, your white privilege is a wonder to behold. Are you feeling alt right?

  • SidVic says:

    DM-Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness when it comes to NIH grant writing.

    Yeah, and you spent time on coming up with a sophisticated strategy that essentially involves a work around. Full disclosure, i will prolly use your advice. But....

    it grows tiresome. My med school has 50+ administrators who come up with mundane initiatives, and yoga classes (today, puke). meanwhile the core faculty have been whittled down to 30.

    I mean how long should i wait until i hoist the black flag and start slitting throats (don't panic, Mencken quote)?

  • zb says:

    "I mean how long should i wait until i hoist the black flag and start slitting throats (don't panic, Mencken quote)?"

    You know, I am no longer capable of not panicking. Seriously, just stop making threats of violence; at the very least, that will help us find the people who somehow can't stop, which might be relevant.

  • potnia theron says:

    @sidvic also see: http://mistressoftheanimals.scientopia.org/2016/05/25/rigor-reproducibility-scientific-rigor-3n/

    And remember that some reviewers do go back and look at what you published. Saying you will do something in the proposal (I will use N males and N females in the study) and then writing (in papers or a renewal) why you didn't use females (they were too precious to waste on the study) can come back to bite your hind quarters.

    Also: animals by and large don't have "gender". they have sex.

  • David says:

    The UCSD pdf has such a wide definition of diversity that it's a complete shame that some people have a problem with it. I find it hard to believe someone could be in their mid to late 20's (or older) and not have interacted with someone on that list. Or read about them. Ankle high may be overselling here (and I am totally stealing that phrase, thanks Postdoc with power) .

  • SidVic says:

    PT- thanks, the link is helpful. ." remember that some reviewers do go back and look" -may i never have a reviewer/commissar that does this...

    ZB "You know, I am no longer capable of not panicking. ... just stop making threats of violence; " Settle down sweetness, it will be OK. On second though maybe you should look into help. whatever the case, be at ease.

  • GM says:

    I think that about covers the "argument". It is almost impossible to reason with someone committed to that gospel of bigotry and distorted reality. They are experiencing an existential threat from the existence of people and programs who do not firmly center the white male experience

    After I quite literally told you that I don't want to hear anything about identity politics because it has no place in science, what did you do?

    Ranted about how much committed to white identity politics I am (to be noted, without even knowing whether I am white to begin with)...

    You are the one with your thinking warped, not me.

  • GM says:

    I don’t think I noticed the fact that right wing nut jobs switch their main homophobia against gay men over to lesbians whenever academics is involved

    What the hell are you talking about?

    You were the one babbling about how much more diversity we need. I pointed out that so called "diversity" is often actually overrepresented in academia relative to the general population. What does that have to do homophobia? It's just an empirical fact.

    See what I said above about most people working in science not being real scientists.

    This thread is one of the finest testaments of that I have ever seen.

    Everyone in it works in STEM.

    Nobody seems to be able to keep a straight head when examining the statements made. It is also adherence to ideological commitments and gut feelings.

    Which is the most cardinal sin you can make as a scientist.

  • GM says:

    Man, your white privilege is a wonder to behold. Are you feeling alt right?

    And here is another one.

    How do you know I am even white?

    How do you know how much "privilege" exactly I have enjoyed in my life?

    How did you even decide I am "alit right" based on what I posted?

  • GM says:

    My med school has 50+ administrators who come up with mundane initiatives, and yoga classes (today, puke). meanwhile the core faculty have been whittled down to 30.

    That's what it's all about, isn't it?

    All the push for diversity is coming out of the departments in the university that produce the people who will be staffing all those very well paid administrative positions that will have to be open to enforce that diversity.

    And that is naturally at the expense of the core missions of the university, which are education and research.

    Because resources are not infinite.

  • Ender says:

    @ GM:
    "After I quite literally told you that I don't want to hear anything about identity politics because it has no place in science, what did you do?"

    Just because you think that the status quo should remain the status quo does not mean your view is any less about identity politics than those who point out the literal centuries of discrimination and prejudices and biases that have built it.

    Or is your "objective reality" one where that history does not exist? Or perhaps you believe in the just world hypothesis wherein the dominance of white males "speaks a lot about the relative quality of the white male applicants relative to the 'underrepresented" groups' and all that structural, systemic bias against other groups is entirely irrelevant?

    (Also, I'm wondering where you got your "empirical statistic" that academia is made up of "20-30%" lesbians.)

  • GM says:

    Or is your "objective reality" one where that history does not exist?

    What well established scientific result meets the following criteria?

    1. Was "established" specifically because the practitioners of science were mostly white and mostly male

    2. Was later shown to be wrong

    3. Was shown to be wrong not by other white males but by people working from a feminist point of view

    I have been asking people spouting the diversity nonsense that question for years. I have yet to see a good answer.

    And if no good answer ever appears, then what is the point of "diversity"?

    If science is done as it should be, the identity of the people practicing it should have absolutely zero relevance.

    But the more we get brainwashed with identity politics nonsense, the more we ensure that science is not practiced as it should be (because the whole philosophical foundation of identity politics is deeply and fundamentally anti-scientific; in fact more so than even young earth creationism).

    Or perhaps you believe in the just world hypothesis wherein the dominance of white males "speaks a lot about the relative quality of the white male applicants relative to the 'underrepresented" groups' and all that structural, systemic bias against other groups is entirely irrelevant?

    Again, am I imagining all those positions, fellowships, and grants specifically open for female applicants?

    Am I imagining math/physics/CS departments filling up with subpar female applicants who everyone with some internal info knows how and why exactly they were hired?

    Am I imagining everyone talking 24/7 about how more females and minorities should be hired and how evil white men are?

    I don't think I am imagining any of those things.

    So how is it then that if such a structural disadvantage exists against male, they still dominate?

    You have two possibilities -- either there is no structural disadvantage at the moment, or males are better. But to deny that there is structural disadvantage you have to deny that females are being preferentially hired because they are females (because by definition, if females are hired preferentially because they are females, males must be preferentially rejected because they are males). And you have to be in complete denial of the reality of the world around you to do that.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Am I imagining math/physics/CS departments filling up with subpar female applicants who everyone with some internal info knows how and why exactly they were hired?

    Yes, this is definitely imagined on your part. Pick several random R1 institutions and look at the percentage of female assistant professors in your favorite STEM fields.

    ...and how evil white men are...

    This is a straw man. For most who care about such things, the goal is to increase the proportion of people from *underrepresented* groups so that they are no longer underrepresented (and so that white doods like myself are not grossly *overrepresented*).

    So how is it then that if such a structural disadvantage exists against male, they still dominate?

    So stereotype threat, implicit bias, and explicit sexism do not exist in your world. In fact, white males have overcome huge structural disadvantages, thus proving their superiority over females. Wow. I hope you use better scientific reasoning in your grants. Or for the sake of your possible trainees, maybe not.

    And you have to be in complete denial of the reality of the world around you...
    Pot, meet kettle.

  • Zuska says:

    Oh wow, GM really takes me back...like to the mid-1980s! Seriously. Everything you are saying is coming out of a time machine from that period.
    It's funny, but also extremely sad, to hear the EXACT SAME long-since-debunked apologies for the oppressive status quo lobbed about 35 years later.
    It's important to be aware that these same tired arguments just keep getting recycled. GM hasn't discovered some radical new truth that he/she is trying to bring to light. GM is just peddling the same old con.

    Of course it matters who does science. If it didn't, do you think anyone would give a rat's ass whether or not underrepresented groups had improved access to science jobs?
    The argument about how objective reality doesn't change no matter who does the science is a bullshit straw men. Who does science - who gets to ask the questions, who gets to decide what questions are worth asking - that matters immensely.

  • Zuska says:

    And one obvious (but not the only) answer to your plaintive query, GM: cytology and corn genetics, Barbara McClintock. I recommend A Feeling For the Organism, it's a great read.

  • Zuska says:

    Some recent examples are described in the book Braiding Sweetgrass.
    But I doubt any actual data will overcome your ideology.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Who does science - who gets to ask the questions, who gets to decide what questions are worth asking - that matters immensely.

    And this too. I bet most people here have come across small sub-fields dominated by a small number of labs (and their descendants). Those labs certainly influence the funding and publication landscape of said subfield, and can restrict the types of questions and hypotheses that are fundable. Homogeneity is not good for science, and broadening participation is the antidote.

  • Zuska says:

    And finally - even if who is in the lab made absolutely no difference as to what & how science was done, it is still a moral wrong to deny access to the privilege of these careers and joy of this work to large swaths of society just to maintain the dominance of a very small portion of society in STEM. However, if you are willfully blind to the history and continued existence of institutionalized real barriers and discrimination that work to favor white men, and/or you are unbothered by the outcome of this situation, then moral wrongs probably don't mean doodly-squat to you.

  • GM says:

    Of course it matters who does science. If it didn't, do you think anyone would give a rat's ass whether or not underrepresented groups had improved access to science jobs?
    The argument about how objective reality doesn't change no matter who does the science is a bullshit straw men.

    Just wow...

    Whoever gave you a PhD betrayed his institution and his educational mission. That's all I can say.

  • GM says:

    it is still a moral wrong to deny access to the privilege of these careers and joy of this work to large swaths of society just to maintain the dominance of a very small portion of society in STEM. However, if you are willfully blind to the history and continued existence of institutionalized real barriers and discrimination that work to favor white men,

    How many decades of reverse discrimination will be sufficient in your opinion to "fix the situation"?

    How many 100% female (and creatures of undetermined gender) departments will it take? Because those do exist in every university, unlike the imaginary 100% male ones.

    Etc.

  • GlamLyfe5evah says:

    Science isn't a-political. Diversity in workforce demonstrably leads to diversity in ideas. Moreover, if you're going to bang the reverse discrimination drum best bring out the real statistics since you're 100% OBJECTIVE.

  • Zuska says:

    It is telling that you conflate equity/equal access with "reverse discrimination".
    By definition, in an equitable environment, no one is discriminated against. But if you just can't get over believing that science rightfully belongs to white men and anything else means lowered standards and reverse discrimination, then you can't get over believing that all Others are naturally inferior.

    Please name the 100% female departments.

    You are of course aware that the phrase "creatures of undetermined gender" is pure bigotry.
    Of course you are. That's why you used it.

    P.S. Your outrage at the very idea! that it matters who does science is hilarious. Your collective impassioned screed on this thread is an example of my point - if it didn't matter at all, why do you care so much who is doing the science? You care because you believe it does matter. You believe institutionalized discrimination to ensure mainly white men do science will produce better science. Except you THINK you are arguing that it's just NATURAL that mainly white men do science because they are inherently better at it - it is their essential nature. And anyone who doesn't want to conform to their essential natures (as envisioned by you) is, I guess, a creature of undetermined gender.
    It's really sad that you imagine this string of rigid bigotries dressed up as a Defense of Science to be the ultimate in rational logical fact-based analysis. The world as it is must seem quite threatening to you.

  • qaz says:

    I've not wanted to get in the middle of this, but some things need to be said.

    GM - you need to look at the data on diversity and the consequences of diversity in academia. Such data exists in many places. You say people are not being scientists, but the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of data on the importance of inclusiveness and diversity on successful scientific progress.

    1. There is a lot of data that decisions about what questions get asked and what gets studied changes dramatically based on who is asking those questions. There are many examples of women's health or differences based on demographics or sociological questions that were not asked until groups with some experience that these were interesting and important questions showed up to the table to say "let's look over here too". There is lots of data that scientists (being human) ask the questions that interest them, which relates to their lives, which means that their experiences matter. And therefore that having a diversity of backgrounds means that the set of questions asked changes based on who is at the table.

    2. It takes creativity and insight to identify new potential answers. (Yes, one then goes and tests to see if your new idea is the right answer or not, but there is a first "I wonder if..." step that happens in any scientific practice.) It is well established that having a diversity of backgrounds increases the set of potential answers that one can find. (That is why a group with a new "toolbox" can come into a field and answer a lot of open questions.) There is a lot of data that this works for both diversity in scientific background (bring together pharmacology experts, computational experts, neurophysiology experts, sociology experts, etc, and you'll do better than group-think from one group) and ALSO for diversity in experiential background (having women and men in the group, having a diversity of race and gender experiences in the group).

    So, following those two points, diversity helps us identify new scientific questions and new potential answers for us to aim our scientific process at. Yes, science in the end is objective, but how we get there depends on our humanity, which depends on diversity. What makes humanity special is that we are not living in a zero-sum game. An inclusive group that lifts each other up does better over all, creates more resources to share, and kicks the a** of a group built on infighting. (Heck, that's one reason why the allies won WWII and why the American's won the Cold War - because we believed in diversity and a lot of really important scientists of diversity switched sides, and a lot of those scientists of diversity had ideas that others had not thought of that ended up making a difference in the war.)

    Furthermore, I have now served as a faculty member for nearly two decades and have served on numerous hiring committees and on both NRSA and K99 study sections (approximately 10 years worth of time on those). The idea that this diversity push is identifying weaker candidates is simply wrong. The fact is that this diversity push is identifying strong candidates from diverse backgrounds that are just as good as candidates from more traditional backgrounds. But (again data!) one needs to be trained against implicit bias to recognize that these candidates are in fact as good, even objectively. There is lots of data that being made aware of these diversity issues makes the hiring process MORE fair (for example, it helps prevent the name-bias effect on resumes).

    What this UCSD question seems to be doing is to help identify those people who are going to be able to work with diverse groups, allowing us to move beyond that zero-sum mistake and into a positive and inclusive group where we are not throwing away all that useful talent.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Very well said, qaz.

    And Zuska.

  • hukrepus says:

    It's pretty simple. "Diversity" as it is used in modern times means intentionally discriminating by race and sex in order to to prevent discrimination by race and sex. It conflates equal access with equal outcomes. This kind of world view is ideology and certainly not universal.

  • GM says:

    It is telling that you conflate equity/equal access with "reverse discrimination".

    Where did I say that? I never did. By making that statement you reveal yourself to be fundamentally dishonest (as you will do again later on several occasions)

    It is a matter of simple logic that if there is a fixed number of positions/amount of resources and if some people are being preferentially hired/admitted/funded/etc. not based on their abilities but based on some other set of characteristics, then there is discrimination going on against everyone else.

    And pointing this out has nothing to do with white male privilege. The biggest victims of these practices are actually Asians at the undergraduate admission level (working poor and lower middle class whites come second)

    By definition, in an equitable environment, no one is discriminated against. But if you just can't get over believing that science rightfully belongs to white men and anything else means lowered standards and reverse discrimination, then you can't get over believing that all Others are naturally inferior.

    I clearly stated that if science is done properly it should not matter at all who does it. Yet you went as far as accusing me of saying that I think science rightfully belongs to white males (and again, how do you even know that I am a white male?)

    See my comment above about twisting others' words and intellectual dishonesty.

    Please name the 100% female departments.

    I already did. Gender studies departments are typically either 100% female or quite close to that.

    You are of course aware that the phrase "creatures of undetermined gender" is pure bigotry. Of course you are. That's why you used it.

    Supposedly you are in the biomedical sciences. If you truly believe that there are more than two genders and see the transgender movement as anything but manifestation of collective lunacy, you should refer to my comment above about the educational system having betrayed its mission by awarding you your degrees for that view goes fundamentally against the very core of your discipline (I don't know why I have to keep doing this, but apparently I have to, so I will state it: that does not mean that such people should be discriminated against; but it also does not mean they should be allowed to distort objective reality for everyone else)

    P.S. Your outrage at the very idea! that it matters who does science is hilarious. Your collective impassioned screed on this thread is an example of my point - if it didn't matter at all, why do you care so much who is doing the science?

    I do not care who is doing the science except that I very much do not want it to be done by people who do care about that. Because then other concerns than the science become more important and that leads to bad science, as it always has historically.

    All the logical fallacies, misrepresentation of others' words and general emotional screeching I see in this thread demonstrate that very well.

  • GM says:

    There is a lot of data that decisions about what questions get asked and what gets studied changes dramatically based on who is asking those questions. There are many examples of women's health or differences based on demographics or sociological questions that were not asked until groups with some experience that these were interesting and important questions showed up to the table to say "let's look over here too". There is lots of data that scientists (being human) ask the questions that interest them, which relates to their lives, which means that their experiences matter.

    That answer is very telling though -- you are giving examples that relate to something like <1% of what there is to study out there, and it's actually some of the least important subject matter.

    You will have much much harder time making that argument with respect to really important and fundamental subjects such as math, physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, etc.

    You are also omitting to mention the tradeoff between the supposed benefits from increasing "diversity" and the negative effects of hiring less qualified candidates, which is the minor issue, and the really major issue, which is the devastating effects on science that the focus on diversity has. The stuff that comes out of the race and gender studies "fields" is more deeply anti-scientific than biblical fundamentalism. Again, if one does not understand that, that person has not been trained properly. Sad, but true.

  • qaz says:

    Your statement that sociology, epidemiology, disease, human interactions, neuroscience, psychology, zoology, biology, and the thousands of other such examples where the questions can provably have been shown to have been changed because of the sets of people asking those questions is "<1% of what there is to study" or is "the least important subject matter" is so deeply and obviously wrong as to make me question whether it is even worth responding to.

    The idea that you are the one who gets to decide what is important is so deeply wrong, arrogant, and (I'm sorry) asinine as to be ignored. The idea of what is important should be decided by the community that cares about it - and, guess what, those diverse people you don't want to listen to are part of that community and should also have a voice in what is important.

    In fact, I think by far the most interesting and important breakthroughs in the last few decades have been in neuroscience and the most important breakthroughs likely coming in the next decade is the sociological work building on the work of Elinor Ostrom (who asked different questions than were typically being asked in economics).

    For that matter, evolutionary biology has in fact been provably changed because of the people asking the questions. Just ask Jane Goodall.

    Furthermore, you are (of course) unable to answer my point about diversity and new ideas. That's because the scientific data on the usefulness of diversity for creativity is rock solid.

    And your statements that there is a tradeoff between diversity and hiring less qualified candidates doesn't fit the data. As a scientist, when I see a hypothesis that doesn't fit the data, I reject the hypothesis and look for a better one. The more accurate hypothesis is that these increases in diversity hire candidates that are just as good or better and that these mechanisms are improving our ability to find good candidates. I swear I don't understand why people argue against diversity. You're leaving talent on the table!

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    If you truly believe that there are more than two genders...

    Your conflation of sex and gender is based on ideology and not biology.

    I already did. Gender studies departments are typically either 100% female or quite close to that.

    You are literally arguing that despite many STEM departments being 90+% male, the presence of female-dominated gender studies departments negates that advantage to the point of being reverse discrimination. Way to move those goalposts to another planet.

    Zuska and qaz have repeatedly poked holes in your arguments against diversity with data that you simply dismiss. At this point you come across as emotionally invested in the idea that white male dominance in STEM is due to biological superiority.

  • Ender says:

    I think GM disagrees that there is much talent being left on the table. His view is that white male over-representation "speaks a lot about the relative quality of the white male applicants relative to the 'underrepresented" groups". And any tracks or fellowships or opportunities for those underrepresented groups is discriminatory against white males as opposed to an attempt to level the playing field.

    "So what if white males have had a few centuries' head-start in the race and have also changed the rules to be more favorable to other white males? So what if they've also prohibited women and other ethnicities from entering the race until recently? So what if some of them were literally chained and shackled, and then later merely metaphorically so? So what if the successful races then became the judges and refs and have some biases towards those like them?

    And these groups get special training programs and funding sometimes! And they've even had this special treatment for a few years even! If they haven't caught up yet, then obviously they aren't good enough despite all this favoritism! Maybe it was even for their benefit that they weren't allowed to race in the first place!"

  • WH says:

    @qaz: And your statements that there is a tradeoff between diversity and hiring less qualified candidates doesn't fit the data.

    Do you have a link to the study/data you quote here? Obviously there is a tradeoff at the level of undergraduate admissions - numerous studies have demonstrated racial differences in SAT/GPAs of graduating high school students. A university with an otherwise-blind, univariate (SAT) admissions policy would find itself primarily populated by students of Asian descent. I've often wondered if this 'trickles' all the way up to graduate school or the faculty hiring process.

  • GM says:

    The idea that you are the one who gets to decide what is important is so deeply wrong, arrogant, and (I'm sorry) asinine as to be ignored. The idea of what is important should be decided by the community that cares about it - and, guess what, those diverse people you don't want to listen to are part of that community and should also have a voice in what is important.

    As I said, what you are saying is very telling.

    There is a natural hierarchy of knowledge, which exists completely independently of what our personal preferences are, that is just how the world works.

    Human-specific issue are way down at the bottom of that hierarchy

    If you do not understand that, your worldview is not scientific, period.

    I know it sounds harsh, but that's how it is.

    It also explains why you care so much about things like "diversity"

  • GM says:

    A university with an otherwise-blind, univariate (SAT) admissions policy would find itself primarily populated by students of Asian descent.

    Exactly.

    But even as it is, at the PhD level and after that, it is simply laughable to claim that there is no diversity.

    A third to a half of people at those positions come from all over the world, a huge fraction of that from countries not populated with white Western people.

    Yet we don't have "diversity" of people and ideas according to some...

  • gingerest says:

    Yeah, so, about those all-women "gender studies departments". I want to see your data. I've only found some old survey data (2007) - that census said that over 90% of faculty teaching in women's and gender studies were either full-time appointed in another department or were adjunct faculty. The average annual operating budget for a university women's/gender studies program was $21,312. To me, this suggests that there were, in 2007, very few if any free-standing gender studies departments. Just some programs, offering a little coursework.

    Source: A National Census of Women’s and Gender Studies Programs in U.S. Institutions of Higher Education, National Opinion Resource Center, University of Chicago;2007. (https://www.nwsa.org/Files/Resources/NWSA_CensusonWSProgs.pdf)

  • GlamLyfe5evah says:

    Being trans isn't distorting reality. I cannot even believe this level of bigotry.

  • GM says:

    And I cannot believe what I am reading on a biomedical blog.

    Yes, being "trans" is not distorting reality.

    On the other hand, claiming that you truly became the opposite sex once you transitioned very much is distorting objective reality.

    And no real biologist would ever put up with such nonsense.

  • Zuska says:

    No real biologist would as consistently use the word gender to mean sex, as you have.
    Perhaps you are just a political troll pretending to be a scientist?
    In any case it's clear that gender nonconformity is super distressing to you. Sad! as the saying goes.

  • GM says:

    Please...

    The trans activists are very skilled at playing the word game -- gender is a social construct (true -- the concept of gender is a social construct, as in something that doesn't really exist in reality; which is why in many languages the word does not even exist and it is very difficult to explain to people from those places what exactly people in the West have lost their minds about). So we can do whatever we want with it.

    But then they also use the word gender to actually mean biological sex all the time.

    Whatever suits them at the given moment.

    I am under no obligation to handicap myself by adhering to arbitrary rules that change all the time.

    Biological sex is objectively real, binary and immutable (in mammals, at least). Fact

  • aspiring riffraff says:

    Gender is social, sex is biological; neither is binary.
    -------------
    I just finished an academic job search. 1) I didn't feel like a good fit at any of my interviews at Universities that didn't require a diversity statement, and turned down an offer based on this feeling. My values clearly didn't align with the department. 2) Diversity statements are not throw away documents. I was asked specific questions about diversity and inclusion during my interviews. I know my responses were a factor in at least 2 of the offers I received.

  • GM says:

    So more confirmation that we have a serious problem with the diversity statements...

    sex is biological; neither is binary.

    Yes, in some protozoans it is not binary.

    In mammals on the other hand it is very strictly binary. Again, who gave you a degree let alone a professorship position if you do not understand that...

  • gingerest says:

    What are you basing your "always binary" on? Sex chromosomes? Because I'm not even a biologist and I know that opposite-sex fraternal twin mammals end up with each other's DNA all the time. In cattle, 92% of such twin pairings generate a freemartin, an XX/XY chimera with intersex reproductive characteristics. 86,000 such freemartins are born each year in the US alone. And if you don't accept cattle as true mammals, what about marmosets? Not only are nearly all marmosets chimeras (because all marmoset pregnancies are twins), the majority of marmosets carry and use their twins' germ cells. Marmosets still have two sexes but you couldn't tell it from their chromosomes alone.

    And in a recent story that gave me the screaming meemies, it was revealed that most human females who have a pregnancy with a male fetus continue to carry Y-chromosome cell lines after birth, some for the rest of their lives.

  • GM says:

    See, this is precisely the thing I am talking about.

    If you are bringing up such "counterexamples", that reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of very fundamentals of biology.

  • gingerest says:

    Yeah? What understanding of what fundamentals, exactly?

  • GM says:

    Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

    The freemartins you mentioned are sterile.

    Thus to give them as an example of normal and healthy variation is absurd.

    And that means that evolution is completely absent from your thinking, which in turn makes you completely unqualified to do anything biology-related other than technician's duties.

    The part about Y-chromosome cells in females after pregnancy is just laughable -- what does that have to do with the biological sex of the females?

  • Grumpy says:

    How are there so many serious people here engaging a single troll?!

  • GM says:

    Yeah, let's label the inconvenient person exposing our BS a troll so that we don't have to deal with his arguments. The usual tactic...

  • gingerest says:

    What arguments? People ask you questions, which you dodge. You sling insults and hint your way around definitions without ever quite getting there.

    As far as I can tell, you're arguing that in mammals, sex is determined by the phenotypic expression of the sex chromosomes, and is therefore binary and set at birth, except where development has gone significantly awry. I give you those marmosets. I also give you Talpa occidentalis, the Iberian mole, all of whose XX fertile females are phenotypically intersex, possessed of gonads which produce both sperm and eggs.

    You also insist that gender is binary, immutable, and dictated by that definition of biological sex, because all aspects of human existence must necessarily be adaptive for reproduction or survival. I give you the following few examples of the many complex human social behaviours that do not confer any advantage to individuals and yet exist: religious worship; stand-up comedy; collective education; definition of a national medium of exchange; fighting with strangers on the internet.

  • GM says:

    You realize that the Talpas are exceptional because they are the only known example of hermaphroditism in mammals? Four out of some 6,000 species?

    The marmosets are completely irrelevant as it is not as if they can switch their phenotypic sex at will.

    Yes, there are lots of examples of sex being "fluid", non-binary, mutable, etc. in various organisms around the tree of life. All sorts of fish lineages can switch their sex, there are more than two "sexes"/mating types in ciliates, etc. etc.

    But that is completely irrelevant because we are hominins, not peniculids or amphiprionins.

    And in primates and virtually all other mammals you are either male or a female, or you have some sort of disorder that leaves you sterile and a reproductive dead end. That is just how it is.

    To deny it is to deny objective reality in the same way that Flat Earthers do.

    And to not always think "what exactly is the selection coefficient associated with this?" when examining a given trait is to be a very poor biologist who does not understand evolution. That I was given STERILE individuals as examples of normal and healthy variation was simply astonishing.

    I am not insulting anyone, I am simply making observations.

  • gingerest says:

    Oh trust me, you're insulting lots of people. But you can have the last word.

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