Meet the Diversocrats

City Journal

Another academic year, another fattening of campus diversity bureaucracies.  Most worrisomely, the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields are now prime targets for administrative diversity encroachment, with the commercial tech sector rapidly following suit.

The most significant new diversity sinecure has been established at the University of California, Los Angeles, where the engineering school just minted its first associate dean of diversity and inclusion. The purpose of this new position is to encourage engineering faculty to hire more females and underrepresented minorities, reports the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper. “One of my jobs,” the new dean, Scott Brandenberg, told the paper, is “to avoid implicit bias in the hiring process.”

The new engineering-diversity deanship supplements the work of UCLA’s lavishly paid, campus-wide Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Jerry Kang, whose 2016 salary was $444,000.  Kang, one of the most influential proponents of the “implicit-bias” concept, already exerts enormous pressure throughout the university to hire for “diversity.” Even before his vice chancellorship was created, any UCLA professor hoping for the top rank of tenure had to write a “contributions to diversity” essay detailing his efforts to rectify any racial and gender imbalances in his department.   The addition of a localized diversity bureaucrat within the engineering school can only increase the focus on gender and race in hiring and admissions decisions. (Brandenberg, of course, expresses fealty to California’s beleaguered ban on racial and gender preferences in government. But it would be naïve to think that the ubiquitous mandate to increase “diversity” does not inevitably tip the scale in favor of alleged victim groups.)

No evidence exists that implicit bias is a factor in the engineering school’s gender and racial composition. Its percentage of female undergraduate and graduate students—about one quarter—matches the national percentage reported by the American Society for Engineering Education. I asked the school’s spokesman, Amy Akmal, if UCLA Engineering was aware of any examples of the most qualified candidate being overlooked or rejected in a hiring search because of implicit bias; she ignored this fundamental question. (She also ignored a question about the new dean’s salary.)  Every science department in the country relentlessly strives to improve its national ranking through hiring the most prestigious researchers. It would be deeply contrary to their interests to reject a superior candidate because of gender or race. And given the pools of federal and private science funding available on the basis of gender and race, hiring managers have added incentive to favor “diverse” applicants. Contrary to the idea that females are being discriminated against in hiring, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci found that female applicants for STEM tenure-track positions enjoyed a two-to-one advantage over similarly qualified males in paired résumé experiments.

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