I believe we all here agree that diversity in the workplace is desirable and essential for success. A diverse group of people brings many advantages to the workplace: variable points of view bringing increased adaptability and more effective responses to problems. In our second #DiversityJC back in 2014 we discussed what diversity is and why it matters in science and STEM fields (you can read the recap of the discussion here).
However, a diverse group of people can also bring conflict of ideas and interests. In this recent piece published last Sunday on the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof brings to our attention what kind of diversity is desired in academia:
Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.
Yes, we tend to aggregate around people that think like us. However, in many instances we need to deal with people of different ideologies. Different political views, different religion. This editorial is focused on the humanities/social sciences, but I believe that it can be extended to academia generally, where there are less conservatives and evangelical Christians. Today we had an interesting discussion on different political (and ideological) views with @sciencegurl and @psyoureanidiot:
Even on Twitter, most of the accounts you follow are probably people/institutions that have similar points of view as yours. How do you interact with those that might disagree with you; or are unfamiliar? Do you try to discuss the issue, or just walk away? Or maybe you just “agree to disagree”?
This bias on campuses creates liberal privilege.
That’s why it is important to have a frank discussion about ideological diversity. How do those biases develop when politics and religion are not discussed in interviews or in the office/lab? Should universities offer affirmative action for conservatives and evangelicals?
We would like to thanks Matt Burgess for the topic suggestion and we hope we can hear your opinion in our next #DiversityJC – May 20th, 2pm ET.