The diversity feint

So every Dude I meet has some Affirmative Action sob story he will tell anybody who doesn’t run away quickly enough. It happens every minute of every second of everyday: sad, incompetent, unqualified women and people of color just snatch that key job/promotion away from the white guy, the most O-pressed person in America, if you know what I mean. It’s a wonder Dudes can maintain the perpetually higher wages they do! Whew!

Less well publicized is my one of my favorite job-related mind-screws: the diversity feint. When we women and people of color are not taking jobs away from the more-deserving family men while we’re waiting for our own turn at baby-making, we serve another purpose: we act as fodder in the candidate pool so that Dudes can hire Other Dudes but pretend, all the while, like they have duly recruited women into the pool, but gosh, those just don’t measure up.

For those of you Dudes who need to do the diversity feint, I am grade-A, Numero Uno at falling for it, particularly for one Dude. I can’t help it; for years, I’ve thought he was so brilliant, and I’m always so flattered when he takes any notice of me, that I inevitably fall for the whole “I have this opportunity, why don’t you apply, you’d be good…oh noes! Sorry! Hired A Dude! Again! Psych! Just had ta. You see, he had eggs for breakfast on Tuesday, and lookiethere, he’s wearing red tennis shoes, and that just makes him so much more qualified!” Complete with a nice little pat on the head about what a necessary wee cog in the wheel and good sport I am. Aww.

I have now officially fallen for the diversity feint so many times that that Dude’s got more than enough proof I am waaaaaaaaay too gullible to fend for myself in His Dude World. I’ve been doing this “please pick me!” dance with this particular Dude for 12 years, and it never has a different ending.

I am so, so dumb.

The right professional advice is always put your hat in the ring, no matter what. You never know. You want to give yourself a chance at the opportunities you want, no matter what.

Unless you are in front of Belshazzar’s Wall. In that case, GET SOME DAMN DIGNITY. She says to herself.

Are we helping anybody with AA policies? I’d need to go read and think about it. Myself, I’d rather be spared the feint and left alone for when I’m really wanted for a given job instead of being pulled into these little Potemkin Village job pools for the sake of looking kosher while everybody still uses the same old social networks that always determine professional outcomes (for both good and bad reasons.) But that doesn’t mean AA does nothing to boost diversity for people entering the profession/in a different spot than worn-out me.

That said, planning in the academy is failing at diversity, in a big way. USC is, too–we’re arguably worse than the profession, though it’s hard for me to see how that can be.

2 thoughts on “The diversity feint

  1. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have accountability for hiring/admission practices, like requiring, say, an ‘Exclusionary Impact Report’, where communities could bring suits against institutions located in their area that remained overwhelmingly white and male, and the burden of proof would fall to those institutions to prove that their hiring practices were non-discriminatory? I know something along these lines (Racial Impact Statements) has been proposed to reform the criminal justice system, but it it is an idea I think that could extend to address discrimination throughout all institutions, much like Environmental Impact Statements have done for ecological concerns. But, I guess this is part and parcel of a world where it is hip to be Sustainable as long as you focus only on the two spheres of economy and ecology. Bring in community and suddenly you’re a socialist.

  2. Then there’s always the “we’re really doing a search” feint, when they know from the beginning who is being hired, usually a spouse or partner of someone already on faculty, or an old pal.

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