twostatesystem ([personal profile] twostatesystem) wrote2010-05-15 08:15 pm
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Race and physics.

Oh, Friday. Where did you go? Right, that vaguely drunken haze I didn't know I needed until I did it.

Back on the posting wagon!

I went to a panel by my department on race and physics this week, and was pleasantly surprised for a number of reasons. Firstly, how much our old, white, male, formal-but-kind department head Got It. I mean, he managed to strike a good balance between looking back and looking forward, and also what is feasible for a major research university (e.g. build relationships with HBCUs to get minority students to apply to us) and what we cannot do (e.g. fix the K-12 education system).

I was also surprised at how little I cringed during the discussion of excellence versus diversity, in particular because I really felt that there were people there backing up my position that increasing diversity does not dilute excellence and that that basic idea permeated the whole discussion. Of course, there were a few who didn't really get that, but they were mostly called on it.

It was a really good experience for me, particularly in light of the bad experiences with panels like this that I've had around both race and women in science before. It also makes me hopeful that our department head might be open to addressing what I see as a problem with representation of less visible minorities—particularly BTGL folk and disabled folk and so on. I hope that I can get the courage up to email him or speak to him about this, but it's so hard when it's so personal, and I feel very gutless about it, even when I know that it's going to be OK.