28 July 2017
People might wonder why I’m personally so pro-diversity when it comes to STEM (and pretty much everything else for that matter). Some perhaps assume I’m just a blind SJW gamma male or whatever.
My motivation certainly does flow, in part, from a broad sense of fairness and inclusion. But there are two key points that really drove me toward being active in this space.
First, diverse perspectives and ways of thinking through a problem are, frankly, a lot of what makes America great.
There are other countries out there with much larger populations, and rapidly expanding middle classes and educational systems. China, for example, has more children in their gifted and talented school programs than we have children total here in the US.
We have a substantial cultural advantage, at least in terms of the western style corporate world, because our culture is non-conformist. Americans generally feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints and “sticking their necks out” with their ideas. The result is that we often seem to come up with, and implement, new ideas at a comparatively fast pace.
That diversity of ideas, and the willingness to take that risk, is really key. This is backed up by research btw, here’s an article from Scientific American for example.
Diversity of thought comes from diverse backgrounds, cultures (regional or global), educational experiences, and overall life experiences. The best way to get that diversity of thought is to have a diverse workforce in terms of gender, race, background, etc.
Or to put it another way: diversity is good for America.
Second, and perhaps somewhat related, it seems entirely unreasonable to me that mankind can be successful in the long term if we are only willing to accept contributions from a minority of humans - most notably straight white males.
It is true, I’m a SWM. But my life is full of non-white and/or non-male and/or non-straight people who are amazingly smart, talented, educated, and driven. Several of these folks have contributed directly or indirectly to my personal experience/success/whatever over the years - in work and life in general. Hopefully the reverse is true as well.
I guess my point is that, specifically from a US-centric perspective, we can’t afford to treat any smart, educated, driven people as second class or unworthy if we are to compete on the global stage. Our absolute population is too small, and we need all our people to remain competitive.
Half the population is female. It is crazy to think we’d ignore half the brainpower in the world. Self-defeating actually.
Similarly, 37% of the US population is non-white. And that number is rapidly growing. Again, it would be self-defeating to ignore well over a third of our country’s brainpower.
So yes, some of my motivation comes from my view that all people are created equal. A view that seems like an obvious part of being American.
Add to that the hard reality that to be against diversity in STEM is to intentionally shut out a majority of the brainpower in the US, much less the world at large. That’s obviously ridiculous and irresponsible - as a professional and as a human.