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Political Correctness In Universities

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I had to share this job advertisement, shown to me by a friend of the family, after also immediately recognising and agreeing with the point SHE was making......

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AIH390/athena-swan-advisor-and-facilitator/

I know that there are some professional academics inhabiting this forum. Maybe this is old news? But people like me have always assumed that such eminent institutions have managed to remain, by and large and overall, above all the modern day PC nonsense - and academic merit is the sole factor in determining success and progress? Or am I woefully out of date?

It appears that even universities as prestigious as Oxford have now become so infected with PC nonsense that they now feel obliged to employ people (and at generous salaries!) whose sole purpose is to 'monitor' and study who and how they employ people?! and try and modify recruitment attitudes if they do not 'conform' to some arbitrarily agreed gender quota directive?

Note that this persons remit is not for the entire university, but just for one division/part of it - which implies other similar roles for other faculties/departments? Then of course, if not already then shortly, there will no doubt be supporting positions for these roles? And then, as the number of people employed in all these PC monitoring activities increase the university will reason it will need to centralise and coordinate such activities on a university wide basis - which will then undoubtedly need some senior manager to 'manage' and oversee all these facilitators and advisors, at some even higher near executive level of pay?

Before you know it Oxford university will, in total, be employing dozens of people whose roles, either directly or indirectly will be essentially completely unproductive and unrelated to the core 'business' of the university, namely teaching and research - and offer no added value to the institution. Such an institution should, presumably, only maintain its reputation and increase its worth by recruiting staff purely on their academic/research merit regardless of gender, etc.

Surely once such an establishment starts to impose quotas of any sort it will, eventually, result in a reduction in quality and performance. Anyone want to make any bets as to whether the international ranking of Oxford university will be higher or lower than where it is at present in, say, ten years from now?

I wonder just how many people in total and what percentage of the total staff salary budget for Oxford university, is now spent on employing people whose role is that of such PC related activities? I can just about bring myself to accept the desire (not 'need'!), in an institution as large as Oxford, to employ maybe ONE person in a modest administrative pay level role, to collate data/keep tabs on employment stats re: gender ratios, ethnic origins, socio-economic background, etc. But that would be for the whole university. The data collected might even be of use for some of the staff in the Sociology and Economics departments for their research. But that really should be the extent of it?!

Do any of the big name U.S universities (e.g. Harvard, Princeton, etc) employ even so much as one person to do these sorts of roles?

Edited by anonguest

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Erm, the US universities are worse than ours. Much worse. Ever heard of "affirmative action"? It means (if I may oversimplify) that work by black academics in the US needs to be treated with particular caution: is the professor only there due to Political Correctness? A tremendous shame for black professors who are indeed there on merit and doing good work!

As for the UK, here's an anecdote going back to 1992.

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The job description is just a lot of nonsense. It would concern me if I was paying for this as a student. Still I suppose we have got to create these non jobs for when they do graduate.

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The job description is just a lot of nonsense. It would concern me if I was paying for this as a student. Still I suppose we have got to create these non jobs for when they do graduate.

That was actually a separate issue I meant to touch on as well - namely the waste of money and the contribution to raising costs/fees for universities.

It's not just that these seemingly pointless, unproductive and non-value adding jobs exist at all....it's also that they invariably seem to pay quite generously compared with jobs that one can easily argue are 'low level' but genuinely essential to the routine functioning of the institution (e.g facilties/infrastructure/maintenance staff)

Edited by anonguest

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The job description is just a lot of nonsense. It would concern me if I was paying for this as a student. Still I suppose we have got to create these non jobs for when they do graduate.

Diversity is POLICY.

It therefore has to be monitored, recorded, compared and reports freely available to prove the organisation is fully compliant and supportive of Diversity in every area of its existence.

Next, if its not already happening, Diversity will be required to be POLICY at suppliers organisations, and their suppliers and so on.

In the Old USSR, they would have the political employees reporting back to their party that the organisation was carrying out party Policy.

It is insidious, it needs to be gotten out of Government...but it seems to be growing.

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Diversity is POLICY.

It therefore has to be monitored, recorded, compared and reports freely available to prove the organisation is fully compliant and supportive of Diversity in every area of its existence.

Next, if its not already happening, Diversity will be required to be POLICY at suppliers organisations, and their suppliers and so on.

In the Old USSR, they would have the political employees reporting back to their party that the organisation was carrying out party Policy.

It is insidious, it needs to be gotten out of Government...but it seems to be growing.

It's not simply a policy issue, it's a compliance issue. If you are a large employer and you get hit with a lawsuit, then you better make sure your ducks are in a row in terms of monitoring, policy, managerial education on the policy, reporting and so on. Otherwise you'll get hammered regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case. Large organisations of whatever stripe (public. private or 'third' sector) all have to comply with this nonsense.

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I know that there are some professional academics inhabiting this forum.

I work in a research unit at Oxford University and have been to a couple of Athena swan related meetings, so I know the basics. If you're interested, here's the University's Athena Swan page

As an aside, it's worth remembering that it wasn't all that long ago that Oxford didn't even accept women members:

Women at Oxford

The main reason for Athena Swan is the trend still present in the STEMM subjects of many women at undergraduate and PhD level, good numbers still there at post-doc level in many subject areas, and then a massive cull such that there are few research group leaders and very few female professors.

The driving force for Universities to create this sort of position is twofold:

  1. Reputational

  2. Funding streams

The latter is crucial. Here's what the Athena Swan website says about it.

Athena SWAN received a major boost in 2011, when the Chief Medical Officer announced that the National Institute for Health Research would only expect to shortlist medical schools for biomedical research centre and unit funding if the school holds a Silver Athena SWAN award.
Although Research Councils UK (RCUK) does not link Athena SWAN to funding, in January 2013 it launched its ‘Statement of Expectations for Equality and Diversity’, which states that it expects those in receipt of Research Council funding to "provide evidence of ways in which equality and diversity issues are managed at both an institutional and department level". It recommends that the evidence includes participation in schemes such as Athena SWAN and Project Juno.

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snip

Before you know it Oxford university will, in total, be employing dozens of people whose roles, either directly or indirectly will be essentially completely unproductive and unrelated to the core 'business' of the university, namely teaching and research - and offer no added value to the institution. Such an institution should, presumably, only maintain its reputation and increase its worth by recruiting staff purely on their academic/research merit regardless of gender, etc.

Everywhere and everything for quite some time has been like this. Doesn't matter whether public, private, or somewhere inbetween like Unis.

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Everywhere and everything for quite some time has been like this. Doesn't matter whether public, private, or somewhere inbetween like Unis.

Possibly a bit of empire building by those employed in the field. How they have persuaded the rest of us to except these useless jobs is beyond me. I guess in the public sector, where it all started, the costs could be passed onto the taxpayer.

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I work in a research unit at Oxford University and have been to a couple of Athena swan related meetings, so I know the basics......

The driving force for Universities to create this sort of position is twofold:

  1. Reputational

  2. Funding streams

The latter is crucial. Here's what the Athena Swan website says about it.

Great! So it really is government driven idealogy that is de facto 'forcing' institutions that should operate solely on merit (i.e recruit best person for the job AND pursue best research) to place gender quotas in a position of greater importance.

So, by way of random illustrative example, someone researching potentially groundbreaking world changing disease fighting treatments is automatically put at a disadvantage in terms of their odds of securing funding AND in the amount of funding because they have to compete with someone else who is given a leg up in the consideration stakes.....solely because they are of the desirable gender!

The academics and other relevant bods who make these funding allocation decisions should IMHO.....NEVER have to be forced to consider ANYTHING other than the merits of the proposed research/activity.

As I said it appears I am only now being brought up to date, nevetheless it still disgusts me.

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It's not simply a policy issue, it's a compliance issue. If you are a large employer and you get hit with a lawsuit, then you better make sure your ducks are in a row in terms of monitoring, policy, managerial education on the policy, reporting and so on. Otherwise you'll get hammered regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case. Large organisations of whatever stripe (public. private or 'third' sector) all have to comply with this nonsense.

indeed, ideal first, then policy then compliance and force.

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From the OP:

Surely once such an establishment starts to impose quotas of any sort it will, eventually, result in a reduction in quality and performance. Anyone want to make any bets as to whether the international ranking of Oxford university will be higher or lower than where it is at present in, say, ten years from now?

The PCness has been going on for some time so why eventually or in 10 years time. What's to say deterioration hasn't happened already but hasn't been recognised yet.

Edited by billybong

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I think I should add that it is a national scandal that while women academics are probably close to outnumbering men overall, the number of female professors nationally is somewhere less than 25%

I can't find a good graph, but it's a lot worse than this in some of the STEMM areas despite equal post-doc representation.

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I think I should add that it is a national scandal that while women academics are probably close to outnumbering men overall, the number of female professors nationally is somewhere less than 25%

WHY is it a scandal???!!!!

I'm not saying I disagree. It's just that it seems to me that THIS is exactly the sort of off the cuff throw away statement that is asserted as though it is absolute fact and that consequently we must all do something about it - hence these diversity policies coming into effect.

Just exactly by what logic or reasoning do you arrive at the assumption that because women make up 50% of the population they MUST therefore make up, by and large, 50% of the university professor population?!

SHOULD, and I emphasise the word SHOULD, women make up 50% of the armed forces? SHOULD half of all post delivery persons be women?

Do men make up 50% of primary/infant school teachers? Why not!? I demand we know why not AND that we do something about it quickly to address any imbalance - after all our children can only benefit surely? I mean, it's just so obvious isn't it?!

I could go on but I think you get the point.

Edited by anonguest

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WHY is it a scandal???!!!!

I'm not saying I disagree. It's just that it seems to me that THIS is exactly the sort of off the cuff throw away statement that is asserted as though it is absolute fact and that consequently we must all do something about it - hence these diversity policies coming into effect.

Just exactly by what logic or reasoning do you arrive at the assumption that because women make up 50% of the population they MUST therefore make up, by and large, 50% of the university professor population?!

SHOULD, and I emphasise the word SHOULD, women make up 50% of the armed forces? SHOULD half of all post delivery persons be women?

Do men make up 50% of primary/infant school teachers? Why not!? I demand we know why not AND that we do something about it quickly to address any imbalance - after all our children can only benefit surely? I mean, it's just so obvious isn't it?!

I could go on but I think you get the point.

Diversity Policy disagrees with you.

The logic is that we are passing up the lost benefits of employing those women, those Asians, those disabled and therefore we need to prevent these losses and protect the losers by Policy, and therefore force.

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Diversity Policy disagrees with you.

The logic is that we are passing up the lost benefits of employing those women, those Asians, those disabled and therefore we need to prevent these losses and protect the losers by Policy, and therefore force.

I wouldn't mind IF it worked.....

I once applied for a public sector job that operated a guaranteed interview for disabled applicants type scheme.

But at the last minute, after completing the application sincerely and genuinely with every intention of getting the job, I changed my mind. I decided at least to 'test' the scheme. I deliberately ticked the box claiming I was disabled - fully expecting to receive a call for interview.......

I never got invited!

Edited by anonguest

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I think I should add that it is a national scandal that while women academics are probably close to outnumbering men overall, the number of female professors nationally is somewhere less than 25%

What's the demographics of that?

How many professors happen to have 20 or 30 years publishing and citation records behind them when appointed to their first chairs? How many active academics of each sex have that?

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Diversity Policy disagrees with you.

The logic is that we are passing up the lost benefits of employing those women, those Asians, those disabled and therefore we need to prevent these losses and protect the losers by Policy, and therefore force.

Yes, the idea behind this sort of discrimination is that it is what is best for the entire organisation, not that it is fair to the individuals. This is not an agenda I personally agree with, though I can accept that it has some coherence as a standpoint. What mostly grates is that it will never admit to being discrimination, and more galling than that, claims the moral high ground as being an agent of equality! Intellectual dishonesty is disappointing, especially in people who should know better.

If you want to unfairly discriminate to run (as you perceive it) a more efficient organisation, it shouldn't be too much to ask that you just have the guts to say so (and maybe then to defend that position if questioned).

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I could go on but I think you get the point.

Any time someone points to a count of bums-on-seats and tells you it shows there's discrimination somewhere, ask them what they propose to do about the biggest imbalance of all in our society.

Quotas for how many men vs women in our prisons?

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Any time someone points to a count of bums-on-seats and tells you it shows there's discrimination somewhere, ask them what they propose to do about the biggest imbalance of all in our society.

Quotas for how many men vs women in our prisons?

Errrrr......isn't that cos men commit more, and more serious, crime than women? Hence one would expect to see more men in prison?

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Yes, the idea behind this sort of discrimination is that it is what is best for the entire organisation, not that it is fair to the individuals. This is not an agenda I personally agree with, though I can accept that it has some coherence as a standpoint. What mostly grates is that it will never admit to being discrimination, and more galling than that, claims the moral high ground as being an agent of equality! Intellectual dishonesty is disappointing, especially in people who should know better.

If you want to unfairly discriminate to run (as you perceive it) a more efficient organisation, it shouldn't be too much to ask that you just have the guts to say so (and maybe then to defend that position if questioned).

or get training in "gain 'ownership' of Diversity policies and fulfil Public Sector Duties under the Equality Act"

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Is it something to do with government/authority grants available or the potential removal of existing grants.

No Diversity = No Grant.

All those sort of policies seems to originate in the US but the UK seems to take it to further extremes.

Edited by billybong

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Errrrr......isn't that cos men commit more, and more serious, crime than women? Hence one would expect to see more men in prison?

The underlying question is why do men commit more crimes than women? What is it that drives them to do that?

Is there also some underlying factor that drives more men to the sort of activities or aptitudes that lead to you becoming a Professor?

It's most likely the same factor in both cases - testosterone, and its effect on brain development.

If you chart the results of intelligence tests seperately for men and women, the women's curve is a tall bell curve with most individuals close to average. The male curve is shorter and wider with fewer "average" individuals and a much greater number ofindividuals at the extremes of ability (both ends!). A possible explanation is that testosterone triggers some sort of developmental risk in male brain development that leads to either improved or impaired brain function.

Edited by SpectrumFX

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