How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences

How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences, by  Heather MacDonald.

Identity politics has engulfed the humanities and social sciences on American campuses; now it is taking over the hard sciences. The STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — are under attack for being insufficiently “diverse.” The pressure to increase the representation of females, blacks, and Hispanics comes from the federal government, university administrators, and scientific societies themselves. That pressure is changing how science is taught and how scientific qualifications are evaluated. The results will be disastrous for scientific innovation and for American competitiveness. …

A scientist at UCLA reports: “All across the country the big question now in STEM is: how can we promote more women and minorities by ‘changing’ (i.e., lowering) the requirements we had previously set for graduate level study?” Mathematical problem-solving is being deemphasized in favor of more qualitative group projects; the pace of undergraduate physics education is being slowed down so that no one gets left behind.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that funds university research, is consumed by diversity ideology. Progress in science, it argues, requires a “diverse STEM workforce.” …

The science diversity charade wastes extraordinary amounts of time and money that could be going into basic research and its real-world application. If that were its only consequence, the cost would be high enough. But identity politics is now altering the standards for scientific competence and the way future scientists are trained.

The bureaucrats are pushing for ever more discrimination:

“Diversity” is now an explicit job qualification in the STEM fields. … The University of California at San Diego physics department advertised an assistant-professor position several years ago with a “specific emphasis on contributions to diversity,” such as a candidate’s “awareness of inequities faced by underrepresented groups.” Social-justice concerns apparently trump the quest to solve the mystery of dark energy. All five candidates on UC San Diego’s short list were females, leading one male candidate with a specialty in extragalactic physics to wonder why the school had even solicited applications from Asian and white men.

Entry requirements for graduate education are being revised. The American Astronomical Society has recommended that Ph.D. programs in astronomy eliminate the requirement that applicants take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in physics, since it has a disparate impact on females and URMs [underrepresented minorities] and allegedly does not predict future research output. …

Expectations are changing at the undergraduate level, as well. Oxford University extended the time on its undergraduate math and computer science exams last year, hoping to increase the number of female high-scorers; results were modest. Expect test-time extensions nevertheless to spread to the U.S. …

Grading on a curve is another vilified practice for those interested in building “inclusive” STEM classrooms. The only surprising aspect of that vilification is that it acknowledges one of the most self-defeating aspects of black and Hispanic culture: the stigma against “acting white.” URMs may “reject competitiveness as an academic motivator,” explains a 2015 UCLA report on the undergraduate academic-achievement gap. Instead, URMs “draw strength in peer acceptance, nurturance, and cooperation.” Translation: instead of pulling all-nighters studying for a linear algebra exam, they may be inclined to hang out in the Afro-Am or LatinX center. … In practice, a curve is the only reliable defense against raging grade inflation.

How dumb is this:

An introductory chemistry course at UC Berkeley exemplifies “culturally sensitive pedagogy.” … A primary goal of the course … is to disrupt the “racialized and gendered construct of scientific brilliance,” which defines “good science” as getting all the right answers. The course maintains instead that “all students are scientifically brilliant.” Science is a practice of collective sense-making that calls forth “inclusive ways” of being brilliant. ..

Reality is so non-PC:

The diversity crusade rests on the claim that absent discrimination, every scientific field would show gender parity. That belief is ungrounded.

Males outperform females at the highest reaches of mathematical reasoning (and are overrepresented at the lowest level of mathematical incompetence). Differences in math precocity between boys and girls show up as early as kindergarten. For decades, males in every ethnic group have scored higher than females in their same ethnic group on the math SAT. In 2016, the percentage of males scoring above 700 (on an 800-point scale) was nearly twice as large as the percentage of females in that range. There are 2.5 males in the U.S. in the top 0.01 percent of math ability for every female, according to a paper published in February 2018 in the journal Intelligence. …

Moreover, females on average are more interested in people-centered rather than abstract work, which helps explain why females account for 75 percent of health-care-related workers but only 14 percent of engineering workers and 25 percent of computer workers.

God help us. I used to joke that PC maths would end up playing to female skillsets by asking exam questions like: “How do you think the number two feels about always being less than three? Is this unfair? What can we do to remedy the situation? (1,000 words).”

The rate of science and technology production peaked in about 1969, the time of the moon landings. There has been a big slowdown in the five decades since then. (Not so sure? Compare that to the advances made in the five decades 1900 – 1950 say.) NASA got to the moon with slide rules in 1969, which is also when diversity was introduced into NASA. Now NASA cannot get back to the moon (though it could do great computer simulations), and currently doesn’t have any spaceships — but Obama gave it Muslim outreach as one of its three main goals.

This will all seem relevant if the Chinese launch a war or the Norks start throwing ballistic missiles around. The most technologically advanced rule.