Monday, January 27, 2014

Whither Diversity--or Wither, Diversity

I can understand the diversity argument in some situations--sometimes, people want or need to see people who look like they do.  Humans are tribal, we like to be around members of our own tribe, and sometimes our tribe concerns skin color or sex.  I can imagine that under certain conditions, that would be important; I can understand people wanting to see doctors of their same sex, or if social workers are involved, people might feel more comfortable around social workers that they perceive as part of their tribe.

But why would you, why should you, care if an engineer is a racial or ethnic minority?  Why does it matter if the scientist working on a cancer cure is Hispanic, deaf, or a lesbian?
All this race-based activity by a government agency raises two fundamental questions not addressed in the Chronicle article: Why is it necessary, and Why is it legal?

It is certainly necessary for the NIH not to discriminate against minorities, but why is it necessary to discriminate in favor of them? The only justification for race-based preferential treatment that has survived Supreme Court review is "diversity," i.e., that whites, Asians, and others must be exposed to the "difference" embodied by blacks and Hispanics in  order to get a good education. But how, as I have asked here and here, will having a few more black mathematicians or engineers "enrich research and scholarship"? To whom will they provide exactly what "diversity"? Despite the NIH having a new officer in charge of "scientific-work-force diversity," these programs, like so many "diversity" efforts, have nothing at all to do with diversity and everything to do with simply targeting blacks for preferential treatment to get their numbers up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, some people deliberately choose a physician who is not of their race. About 20 years ago, I read a column by a black man whose black primary doctor was retiring. Having researched the extent of AA for black, Hispanic and female med students, he decided to limit his search for a new doctor to white and Asian males or anyone over the age of 50, to ensure that his doctor was accepted purely on his academic qualifications. Very sad. (now over 50% of med students are female)