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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Friday, August 17, 2007
On the blogs: faculty diversity in science
On Nature Network Boston, scientist Deanne Taylor offers her take on why women and members of minority groups are underrepresented in academic science.
The main obstacle to increasing faculty diversity could be the habit of self-identification, says Taylor, who does research at the Harvard School of Public Health and chairs the bioinformatics graduate program at Brandeis University. By that she means feeling more comfortable with someone who seems the same and then using that familiarity as a shortcut to social interaction.
"Although there are exceptions, in my experience, we scientists are not always known for deft socialization skills, which would allow for that kind of facility in finding common ground among diverse people," she writes, stressing that this is her opinion, not the result of data analysis. "Since scientists make decisions on everything from grants to departmental resources and tenure awards on ‘best fit,’ you can imagine the consequences of self-identification could be quite predictable."