Another new report making the case for increased diversity among faculty was recently released, this time focused on MIT, one of the best science and engineering universities in the world. While we generally leave scrutiny of these types of reports to our better versed friends such as Roger Clegg, I couldn't resist commenting on a quote appearing in Inside Higher Ed's coverage.
"It is intrinsic to the mission of excellence in science and engineering that we engage a truly diverse faculty; otherwise, we stand to lose in both our competitive advantage and our overall mission."Funny, I would have thought that the mission of excellence in science and engineering would revolve around having the best scientists and engineers that money can buy to train the scientists and engineers of tomorrow, regardless of the diversity of their race or ethnicity. It seems to me that not seeking out the best qualified faculty would lead to exactly the opposite - a decline in competitive advantage. Another finding from the report noted:
departments -- such as nuclear science, chemistry and mathematics -- that did not hire a single underrepresented minority faculty member from 1991 through 2009. In other departments, such as music, theater and writing, more than one fourth of hires were from underrepresented groups.Science and engineering are areas that require a very specific set of skills. These skills may or may not be proportioned among the population the way that race or ethnicity is, so it is ludicrous to believe that these professions need to reflect the overall demographic proportions.