How do we adapt to this? Expanding reasons why minority students avoid certain disciplines

In my good ol’ US of A, there’s a pretty sizable chunk of the population that does not believe in a fundamental concept in science, one that borders as close to fact as science can get.

Yep. Americans are pretty wary of evolution (four in ten, according to a Gallup poll last year).

Now, I’ll admit it. Normally, I’m apt to write those people off as crazy ignorant having a different world view than mine. Sure, I find it an unfortunate fact, and I worry about the education our kids are getting… but I wouldn’t say it’s something I worry about too much, aside from the occasional hand-wringing about just how unfortunate it is.

I never really thought about how this number hits close to home. How it interacts with, well, diversity in science.

That was until Melissa WilsonSayres (@mwilsonsayres) sent the good Doctor a recommendation for next week’s Diversity Journal Club – this article, that we will indeed discuss over in the twitterverse:

Factors influencing minority student decisions to consider a career in evolutionary biology

Indeed, this article postulates that beliefs about evolution, those I was simply hand-wringing over, actually do have an impact on minority students entering into evolutionary biology.

Interesting! Do you agree? Disagree? How does the study do assessing this hypothesis? Is this something we need to be addressing more directly in the sciences if we want to increase diversity? Have we (or maybe just me?) been overlooking the glaring challenge to diversifying science: strongly held beliefs that seem in conflict with scientific discourse??

Let’s talk about it – not just the study itself, but the deeper implications for science more generally! Monday, March 9th at 2pm EST under #DiversityJC!

Hope to see you there!

Doctor PMS

And make sure to check out Melissa on twitter and over at her blog, mathbionerd.


2 thoughts on “How do we adapt to this? Expanding reasons why minority students avoid certain disciplines

  1. Food for thought! How does this relate to recent conversations and study on the reasons why women and minorities are leaving academia….

    This and other work shows that women and URM scientists on average “choose differently.” Their choices are made “outside of ability, outside of competence”—but in keeping with expressed desires to pursue social justice, community involvement, and altruism, he says. In contrast, men from well-represented groups more often seek academic research careers that incorporate the value of “scientific freedom, the ability to research what you want on your own terms.”

    For scientists with strong social concerns, scientific and social motivations are “intertwined,” Gibbs says.

    Check it out here: “What’s the purpose of a scientific career?”


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