How is diversity being weaponized?
Striving for diversity is honorable — but the focus should settle on something much deeper than phenotypic traits.
Heather Heying is an evolutionary biologist and former Professor at Evergreen State College. She applies the tool kit of evolutionary theory to problems large and small, some seemingly intractable, some possibly trivial—what to eat, how to teach and parent and be an upstanding citizen, what to avoid, and what to seek.
Heather came to prominence after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers at Evergreen State College.
HEATHER HEYING: The concept of diversity is honorable and is being weaponized by people who are not, I think, actually interested in true diversity across all demographics. Diversity could be understood merely at a "we can count this by what you look like and how you identify - your ethnicity, your sex, your sexual orientation, your able-bodiedness," these sorts of things. And these are all real ways that humans differ, and the more varied the life histories and the demographics there are in any particular organization, the more likely there are to be unique solutions to problems that emerge because of the different ways that people with diverse backgrounds will approach questions.
However, socioeconomic diversity, which is not often talked about by many of the people who are currently talking about diversity, is in some ways a better predictor of having things like viewpoint diversity and experience with the real world and being able to actually solve problems on the fly, either the physical or the social sort because they've had to. Because people who are emerging not from the elite and the upper middle class have actually often had to solve problems in a way that those of us who grew up with greater economic privilege didn't have to. We may have chosen to put ourselves in these situations, but even so when it's a choice it's different.
So diversity is a good, but we are not hearing nearly enough about socioeconomic diversity and we are also not hearing nearly enough about viewpoint diversity, which is hidden, which you can't wear on your sleeve: I mean you could you could wear a T-shirt that proclaims some things, but the only thing you can proclaim on a T-shirt is an ideology. You cannot proclaim a nuanced worldview except through extended conversation. Most people who have arrived at their beliefs and their values and their worldview through, first, principles as opposed to through accepting something by rote that was handed to them pre-scripted actually don't fall entirely into a particular ideology. Most of us have views that would sound pretty Democratic and also have views that would sound maybe a bit Republican and some views that are moderate and probably most of us have some extreme views on some topics, and it's not going to be the same mix for anyone. And we find that through talking with one another.
That diversity, which is diversity at the individual level for people who are not ideologues, who have actually arrived at their positions through careful nuanced intellectual but compassionate thought about the world - that's the kind of person that you want in a boardroom. And if those people all look the same in terms of their sex or the color of their skin I would say there's probably some diversity that you're missing that you could stand to gain. But the idea that you can't have diversity of life experience and diversity of opinion and diversity of what people actually come to offer in a room of people who appear to look the same by the metric that we are currently being told to use seems far off base to me, that diversity for the countable phenotypic characteristics should not be the highest goal.
- In efforts to achieve diversity, whether within workplace teams or elsewhere, leaders often focus on variation of identities regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, and physicality.
- Evolutionary biologist Heather Heying urges that these efforts be taken a step further to focus on diversity of viewpoints and socioeconomic status — two forms of identity that are less apparent without thoughtful conversation.
- Achieving diversity in these ways adds varying life experiences and opinions that enrich office or team culture and provide more innovative solutions.
- Diversity Means Having People Who Think Differently - Big Think ›
- How emotional intelligence drives diversity and inclusion - Big Think ›
New study of gamma rays and gravitational lensing points to the possible presence of dark matter.
- Analyzing data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, researchers find hints of dark matter.
- The scientists looked to spot a correlation between gravitational lensing and gamma rays.
- Future release of data can pinpoint whether the dark matter is really responsible for observed effects.
An inside look at common relationship problems that link to how we were raised.
- Fear of abandonment or other attachment issues can stem from childhood loss (the death of a parent) but can also stem from mistreatment or emotional neglect as a child.
- Longitudinal studies have proven that a child's inability to maintain healthy relationships may be significantly impaired by having an insecure attachment to a primary caregiver during their early development.
- While these are common relationship problems that may be rooted in childhood experiences, as adults, we can break the cycle.
Tech is rising and America's middle class is vanishing. Here's what to do.
- The rise of new technologies is making the United States more economically unequal, says Professor Ramesh Srinivasan. Americans should be pushing the current presidential candidates hard for answers on how they will bring economic security and how they will ensure that technological transitions benefit all of us.
- "We are at an inflection point when it comes to top-down control over very many different aspects of our lives through privatized corporate power over technology," says Srinivasan. Now is the time to debate solutions like basic income and worker-owned cooperatives.
- Concurrently, individuals should develop digital literacy and get educated on the potential solutions. Srinivasan recommends taking free online and open courses from universities like Stanford and MIT, and reading books and quality journalism on these issues.