by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
John Staddon writes for the Martin Center about the negative impact of identity politics on science.
I have worked in academic science my entire life and I have never seen any sign of racism, systemic or otherwise. On the contrary, I have seen people go to considerable lengths to aid able minorities.
Yet a petition entitled is circulating nationally complaining that: women and “people of color” are under-represented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math); that this is “systemic racism;” and that the cure is to change science (although it isn’t put quite like that).
If enough signatures can be gathered, the petition is apparently to be published in Science, one of the two leading general-science journals (the other is Nature). …
… Institutional racism is when people are treated differently because of their color. Racial disparities by themselves are not enough. The fact that African Americans are under-represented among professors of, say, physics does not by itself demonstrate racism, systemic or otherwise.
This distinction should be clear, but it is often blurred. An academic dean at a respected university commented on the petition internet thread: “It is sadly not surprising that there remains skepticism among some that systemic racism exists in higher education, including STEM fields. Volumes of studies on the causes of racial disparities in numbers of tenured faculty in higher education have been published” [emphasis added].
At least the dean alludes to causes of disparities, not just the disparities themselves. But are the causes “racist?”
“Pipeline” issues precede higher education and are beyond its purview. The other causes the dean mentions are not racial: the structure of academia, what the college chooses to value as scholarship, how faculty productivity is measured. But his implication is clear: scholarly and productivity criteria need to be changed for racial reasons—which is the Macpherson definition of systemic racism! The dean evidently wishes to replace imagined with real structural racism.