Wednesday, May 24, 2017

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

I joined the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) in 1989, as a second year student. I became a full member (MRACI) when I finished my PhD, and a Fellow (FRACI) in 2014. Over the years I’ve carried out a number of roles for the RACI, including Treasurer of the Polymer Division (2002-2009).

I’ve just quit today.

I’ve quit because of this Inclusion and Diversity Policy.

This is an Exclusion policy which could only be conceived and implemented in a perfectly Non-diverse intellectual monoculture.

Equity means that the biological composition of plenary, keynote and invited speakers ought to mirror the biological composition of researchers at an appropriate level in the subject matter of the conference. Sometimes this composition will be greater than 30% female. Sometimes it will be less than 30% female. Having this simplistic numerical benchmark means that in many cases people of equal merit will be excluded on the basis of what sex they are. That is the definition of sexual discrimination.
I am all for absolutely busting a gut for equality of opportunity. But taking any step down the road to equality of outcome should be absolutely anathema to the spirit of any scientific society.

This business of quotas is poison. It is cancer. It encourages imposter syndrome in the 'beneficiaries' and reinforces prejudice in those who it excludes. It does absolutely nothing to help a mid-career researcher who would have been a plausible pick as an invited speaker but for the family responsibilities that have held her back, or the systemic sexual discrimination she faced building a career in Faroffistan.

Furthermore, unconscious bias training is nonsense.


Jelly Monster said...

Shades of 1984 and a whole range of despicable governments in history. Do these people not know their science fiction or their history? Even if they could trust the test (and scientists should have checked the test worked themselves first), in what world do they think thought police is a good idea.

David Archibald said...

What proportion of the members of the institute are female?

Chris Fellows said...

I don't know, David. My Google Fu has failed me. I expect a current member could access the member database on their website and let you know.

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