Diversity Statements in Hiring

Recently Abigail Thompson, chair of the mathematics department at the University of California, Davis, and a vice president of the American Mathematical Society, published this article in Notices of the American Mathematical Society.  The article includes the following statement:

Faculty at universities across the country are facing an echo of the loyalty oath [of the 1950s], a mandatory “Diversity Statement” for job applicants.  The professed purpose is to identify candidates who have the skills and experience to advance institutional diversity and equity goals.  In reality it’s a political test, and it’s a political test with teeth.

She goes on to explain why.

Why is it a political test? Politics are a reflection of how you believe society should be organized. Classical liberals aspire to treat every person as a unique individual, not as a representative of their gender or their ethnic group. The sample rubric dictates that in order to get a high diversity score, a candidate must have actively engaged in promoting different identity groups as part of their professional life. The candidate should demonstrate “clear knowledge of, experience with, and interest in dimensions of diversity that result from different identities” and describe “multiple activities in depth.” Requiring candidates to believe that people should be treated differently according to their identity is indeed a political test.

I agree.  The use of diversity statements in hiring is a political test and thus is inherently discriminatory.  We should abandon the practice.

This entry was posted in campus issues, diversity, politics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Diversity Statements in Hiring

  1. dougorleans says:

    Are there any political views that you think should be disqualifying?

    • mzspivey says:

      Ideally, I think a university should be a place where a wide variety of different ideas are discussed and debated. So I think I would need to hear a very good argument for why a particular political view should not be allowed in a university setting before concluding that its holder ought to be disqualified from an academic job.

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