Diversity in research institutes

Marilyn Walker Marilyn.Walker at colorado.edu
Wed Aug 9 14:19:04 EST 1995


Fellow netters: In a few weeks our research institute, part of a major
university, will be holding its faculty retreat. We have outlined a
series of issues to be covered during the 2 day period, and the format is
that discussions will begin by having two people each spend 5 minutes
presenting pro and con arguments on each side of an issue. 

I have been given the task of presenting the "pro" side of increased
"diversity", the new buzz word that seems to be the affirmative action of
the 90s. Some background is that the institute is small, with a quite
specialized focus (high latitude and high altitude earth systems), and
has traditionally been all white males. There are 6 full professors, all
white males. There have been 8 hires in the last 7 years, and of these, 6
were white males, one was a Mexican-American male, and one was a white
female (only VERY recently, and as an opportunity hire, not through a
search, but she's tops). We also have 11 soft-money researchers, and of
these, not counting postdocs, there are 6 women and 5 men (all white). 
So it is hard to argue that there are not women available who specialize
in the field, but the discrepancy between those with hard jobs, who also
make much higher salaries, and the soft money category is revealing.

So given this background, I am trying to think of something thought
provoking to say that might wake folks up a bit. My sense is that the
senior male faculty are much more devoted to truly taking this issue to
heart than the younger ones, many of whom can be quite reactionary and
defensive about it. I'm really hoping that I can say something more than
the obvious, something that might catch folks attention. This can be an
uncomfortable issue, and one that no one, particularly not some of these
faculty, really want to talk about. I am one of the soft-money folks, by
the way.

So if any of you have clever ideas, I'd be most happy to hear about them.

Marilyn Walker



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