Monday, October 24, 2016

Diversity and Not

There are limits to our drive for diversity.

Four recent studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Rube-publicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.
Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Rube-publicans (although a large share are independents).
In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. Marxist!

Rube-publicans may just be dumber but discrimination may actually be involved. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.
A test preparation company for the Law School Admission Test offers test-takers a tip: Reading comprehension questions will typically have a liberal slant and a liberal answer.
The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

George Yancey is a sociologist who is black and evangelical. “Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he said. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”
“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”

Jonathan Haidt, a centrist social psychologist at New York University, cites data suggesting that the share of conservatives in academia has plunged, and he has started a website, Heterodox Academy, to champion ideological diversity on campuses.
“Universities are unlike other institutions in that they absolutely require that people challenge each other so that the truth can emerge from limited, biased, flawed individuals,” he says. “If they lose intellectual diversity, or if they develop norms of ‘safety’ that trump challenge, they die. And this is what has been happening since the 1990s.”

From an article by Kristof in the NYT

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