What Does Diversity Have to Do with Science?

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Jan 7, 2019

Do you care about the race of your doctor, or the gender of the person who built the bridge you drive across? The latest trend across STEM fields claims you should. Heather Mac Donald, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Diversity Delusion, explains where these destructive ideas are coming from.

Check out Heather Mac Donald's latest book, The Diversity Delusion. Click here.

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Identity politics and victimhood culture have increasingly taken over college campuses. 

  • The identity politics movement argues that people are primarily defined by their race and gender and perpetuates a victimhood culture.View Source
  • UC Davis is an example of a university fully enveloped by identity politics, with 28 separate departments dedicated to various identity groups.View Source
  • Radical feminists have attempted to remove due process when dealing with sexual assault charges.View Source
  • Students who consider themselves members of victimized groups protest an oppressive hierarchy, despite being supported by an overwhelmingly liberal faculty.View Source
  • Harvard has been accused in a lawsuit of discrimination by capping Asian student admissions.View Source
  • WATCH: “What is the University Diversity Scam?” – Heather Mac DonaldView Source

The promoters of identity politics have taken over the humanities & social sciences—and now they’re moving in on STEM.

  • Promoters of identity politics believe that STEM-related fields are disproportionately divided by race and gender because of “implicit bias.”View Source
  • “All across the country,” a UCLA scientist reports, “the big question is: how can we promote more women and minorities by ‘changing’ the requirements we had previously set for graduate level study?”View Source
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that funds university research, argues that progress in science requires a “diverse STEM workforce.”View Source
  • In July 2017, the NSF awarded $1 million to the University of New Hampshire and two other institutions to develop a “bias-awareness intervention tool.”View Source
  • The NSF awarded $2 million to the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M, one goal of which was to “train faculty to use instructional strategies to address and remediate microaggressions and implicit biases….”View Source

Identity politics is altering the standards for scientific competence and the way future scientists are trained.

  • The physics department at UC San Diego advertised an assistant-professor position with a “specific emphasis on contributions to diversity,” such as a candidate’s “awareness of inequities faced by underrepresented groups.”View Source
  • “Any academic scientist who wants to move up in administration—or apply for grants, leave, or access to the conference circuit—must be on a crusade against his fellow scientists’ microaggressions and implicit bias,” writes the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald.View Source
  • An introductory chemistry course at UC Berkeley has as its primary goal to “dismantle racialized, gendered, and classed hierarchies of competence in chemistry….”View Source
  • Related Reading: “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture” – Heather Mac DonaldView Source

Medical school admissions committees are told to overlook low test scores of minority applicants in favor of a more “holistic” approach.

  • Data from medical school acceptance rates and MCAT scores broken down by race suggest that medical schools are using racial profiling in their candidate reviews.View Source
  • Black and Hispanic students tend to have lower GPA requirements overall than whites or Asians to enter medical school.View Source
  • In 2017, the Columbia University Medical Center pledged $50 million, not to groundbreaking medical research, but to diversify its students and faculty.View Source
  • Related reading: “Making the Right Move on Racial Preferences” – Heather Mac DonaldView Source

The push to get women into STEM is based on the idea that, absent discrimination, women and men would be equally represented.

  • Differences in math precocity between boys and girls show up as early as kindergarten.View Source
  • As of 2017, women made up 14 percent of architecture and engineering workers.View Source
  • In 2017, women made up 25 percent of computer and mathematical workers.View Source
  • James Damore, a Google engineer, was fired for questioning the company’s hiring preferences for females.View Source
  • The National Labor Relations Board upheld Google’s firing of Damore on the grounds that his statements about “purported biological differences between men and women” were “discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment.”View Source
  • WATCH: “What Happens When Google Disagrees With You?” – James DamoreView Source

The promoters of identity politics—the idea that we are primarily defined by our race and gender—have taken over the humanities and social sciences.

That’s bad.

But not as bad as this: They are moving in on “STEM” – science, technology, engineering and math.

 “All across the country,” a UCLA scientist reports, “the big question is: how can we promote more women and minorities by ‘changing’ (i.e., lowering) the requirements we had previously set for graduate level study?”

The National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that funds university research, exemplifies this approach. Progress in science, the NSF argues, requires a “diverse STEM workforce.” Why this is the case they don’t bother to say. Somehow, NSF-backed scientists managed to rack up more than 200 Nobel Prizes before the agency realized that scientific progress depends on “diversity.”

No matter: in July 2017, it awarded $1 million to the University of New Hampshire and two other institutions to develop a “bias-awareness intervention tool.” Another $2 million went to the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M to “remediate microaggressions and implicit biases.”

The science diversity charade, as I discuss in my book The Diversity Delusion, wastes extraordinary amounts of time and money that could be going into basic research and its real-world application. If that were its only consequence, the cost would be high enough. But identity politics is altering the standards for scientific competence and the way future scientists are trained.

“Diversity” is now an explicit job qualification in the STEM fields.

The physics department at UC San Diego advertised an assistant-professor position with a “specific emphasis on contributions to diversity,” such as a candidate’s “awareness of inequities faced by underrepresented groups.” Solving the mystery of dark energy apparently now takes a back-seat to social justice. Maybe it was a coincidence, but all five candidates on UC San Diego’s short list were females.

If traditional standards are keeping women and minorities out of STEM fields, it stands to reason that changing standards must be the way to get them in.  Or maybe standards are just another expression of the white patriarchy and thus no longer relevant.

An introductory chemistry course at UC Berkeley reflects the new “culturally sensitive pedagogy.” A primary goal, according to its teachers, is to disrupt the “racialized and gendered construct of scientific brilliance,” which defines “good science” as getting all the right answers.

This same diversity obsession extends to medical schools—not a happy thought when they wheel you into the operating room for emergency surgery.

The promoters of identity politics are literally playing with our lives. Medical schools admissions committees are now told to overlook the low test scores of black and Hispanic applicants in favor of a more “holistic” approach. From 2013 to 2016, medical schools admitted 57 percent of black applicants with a low medical college admission test score of 24 to 26, but only 8 percent of whites and 6 percent of Asians with those same low scores, according to Claremont McKenna professor Frederick Lynch.

Racial preferences in med school programs are sometimes justified on the basis that minorities want doctors who “look like them.” Really? Seems much more likely that minority patients with serious illnesses want the same thing we all do: a well-trained, skilled doctor. 

The desperate attempt to get women into STEM fields is also based on the idea that, absent discrimination, women and men would be equally represented in the sciences.

This is highly unlikely, however. Differences in math proficiency between boys and girls show up as early as kindergarten. In the top .01 percent of math ability, where we find scientific genius, there are 2.5 males in the US for every female, according to a recent paper in the journal Intelligence.

This may help explain why women make up 14 percent of engineering workers and 25 percent of computer workers. To acknowledge this was once common sense; now it can get you fired. Ask James Damore, the Google engineer who questioned the company’s hiring preferences for females.

The National Labor Relations Board upheld Google’s firing of Damore on the grounds that his statements about “purported biological differences between men and women” were “discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment.” This decision means that every evolutionary biologist, neurologist, or economist who acknowledges the differences between males and females is at risk of his job.

The unique accomplishments of Western science were achieved without regard to the sex or skin color of its creators. Now, however, funders, industry leaders, and academic administrators want us to believe that “diversity” is the key to the future.

But the truth is the exact opposite: we want our best scientific minds to be free to do their best work. In our highly competitive world, identity politics is an indulgence we can’t afford.

I’m Heather Mac Donald, fellow at the Manhattan Institute, for Prager University.

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