Is the current Woke trend what we really want for our children?
Or is it being allowed to rob them all of a fair and just future?
Yesterday I was forwarded two different emails that both suffer from the current trend of misguided ideological narratives infiltrating and poisoning the well of academia. I am going to share the first of these, suitably anonymised, with you today and give at least my opinion as to how I think it demonstrates why present day ScienceTM is failing us, our children and our communities.
1. The upsidedown inappropriate application of ethnicity, diversity and inclusion ideologies
The following email was sent to some researchers in a particular academic faculty at a British university. That faculty primarily teaches two qualification-based degrees that both have a notorious historical preponderance for female students. For the second of those qualifications, the entire domain and subject matter almost exclusively concerns reproduction in the female of the species. The email was forwarded to me by a concerned researcher in that department:
Leaving aside the overly familiar and unbefitting tone of the email (‘pick your brains’… really? are you interested in the extraneous bits or perhaps in removing those parts that support critical thinking?), we are left with the overall sense that the author has a particular ideological focus or ‘axe to grind’. In this sense at least we may not be far off the mark.
While I will not identify the author, I will say that their ultimate (and as far as I could tell, as yet unconferred) degree was in Liberal Arts, with a particular focus in the ‘history department’ on gender issues regarding the impact of feminism, or rather, the failure of feminism to impact upon the experiences of working class women in our grandmother’s generation. Some might argue their work looks at the issues and experiences of these women through an inappropriate lens - that is, the lens of present day culture, class, gender and equality ideology, and that it is wrong to contend we should understand those women’s experiences from within this more recent viewpoint. I suspect in that argument they may be right, but in this instance - and as Bret Weinstein is so fond of saying…
It gets worse.
I was also sent a link to a talk the email’s author gave at another academic institute where, during the question time at the end of the research presentation, the author agreed with and extemporised on the notion that some working class women of the previous generation ‘coupled up’ (i.e. moved in together, possibly becoming lesbian) due to ‘toxic masculinity’ - another present day component of the gender and equality ideological thinking being retrospectively written into the historical narrative. In any event, certainly not a term your or my grandmother would ever have used… or possibly even understood.
I wonder how it is that the email’s author plans to ‘improve’ diversity in a department where, I am told, the vast majority of students already incorporate an overwhelming mix of Middle East, Asian, East Asian and sub-Saharan African females. The diversity quotient is aparently tilted so far in that direction now that a white, Jewish female student in one cohort of students was not only one of only three white students in her year group, but the only white Jewish student. This young lady was forced to sit in a classroom recently where a boisterous discussion encouraging donating to and supporting of pro-Palestine, pro-Hamas and pro-Islam causes was so overt and egregious that this white Jewish student felt fear for her own safety and that she had to create a pretext to leave the classroom. She did this because she was afraid the large group of pro-Palestine and muslim students might recognised the disquiet she was experiencing as a result of thoughts about her parents who were still in Israel at the time, and that they might realise she was Jewish and therefore on the ‘opposite side’ of the topic they were so animatedly discussing.
Will the email’s author propose to bring in more white students, of which some proportion would need to be Jewish - thereby reversing the trend of the last few years in dominating student recruitment requirements with ever-increasing enforced percentages of BAME and international BAME students?
Does the email’s author propose increasing male student recruitment, including white male students, in order to redistribute and balance the inequality of an almost entirely female-dominated student body?
Further, while promoting the concept of improving diversity of research participants (also known in this case as patients), how does the email’s author propose to enable the inclusion of genetic or natal males in an exclusively female domain (i.e.: midwifery patients)? Given the image at the bottom of the email, are we open to infer that it’s author might seek to demand that genetic and natal females who demand to be called males should be erroneously counted as genetic males and that this re-branding somehow balances out the obvious and natural exclusivity of females as reproductive patients in the maternity unit?
Or, is the author perhaps going to step away from their feminism-driven research stance to antithetically show themselves to be a proponent of patently ridiculous studies that stipulate genetic and natal males need equality in all aspects of infant care and, as such, we should redistribute tasks genetic and natal females are clearly designed for such as breastfeeding, to them? (one topic of this week’s Dark Horse Podcast - fast forward to 26:49).
Leaving aside these esoteric issues, what is more troubling for me is the unspoken implication that may arise for some recipients of the email that the conduct, results and reporting of research from their rigorous scientific endeavours should be directed by something other than the honest and faithful accounting of observed phenomena. There is also some question as to whether a soon-to-be postdoctoral liberal arts major whose declared focus has been ostensibly biased on the feminist side of the gender debate could take equality, diversity or inclusion in anything other than a continuation of that same single-minded direction. This would be an outcome that, in this particular circumstance, is at best laughable given that the student body is already female-dominant… and at worst, misguided.
Universities already do more to cater for BAME, and especially BAME female students, than any other group. In my own experience I have seen that it can be all but impossible in my own academic post to achieve grants for projects that the funder expects to include a school-funded or stipended Ph.D candidate post because the school does not as a rule offer such posts…
Except when they do.
I note from my own experience that in those rare circumstances where they do, the candidate must be of a specific prescribed BAME background and from that country. For example, this week I was involved in two applications where the stipended or fee-waivered candidate we were applying on behalf of had to be from an African nation and undertaking research with application not directly (or possibly not at all) to our country (that would be footing the bill), but to their own home country or another African nation.
At my previous university there was a large number of scholarships made available each year only to Chinese students. That university STEM school allocated £4 - 20 million annually because senior faculty paternalistically believed many Chinese candidates were underprivileged and might not otherwise have the opportunity to complete a Ph.D. This belief was completely wrong, as many of the candidates arriving to undertake their reseach studies in our school were found to be from wealthy families who were able to pay the sometimes significant fees in their own country just to get the necessary CCP approvals and permits to come to the UK. At best, all that university was doing was giving well-off Chinese youth an opportunity to undertake Ph.D studies not at their home university, but for free while holidaying with the benefit of a small stipended local wage in the United Kingdom. They were giving away the limited UK funds we had available to candidates who in many cases could have easily paid cash for their fees, and were conemporaneously doing our own less financially able British youth a serious disservice. Our own kids either end up with a five- or six-figure student debt at the end of their academic studies, or they struggle to work full- or part-time jobs to cover costs while also studying full-time. That, or they are forced to give up on what could have been a promising academic education and work in low-paying service or similar jobs.
Is this really what is best for our own children?
Making it increasingly more difficult- to- impossible for white British students to access a tertiary education in their home country such that there may only be, as with the white Jewish girl above, a very small number of white students in a class is not equality or diversity. It’s simply yet another form - albeit reverse, of the discrimination that diversity and inclusion champions like the email’s author claim their efforts are addressing. This has a knock-on effect on employment rates as well. For example, on average each year now there are as many as two thousand fewer white nurses and midwives employed in the NHS.
In many areas medical, nursing and midwifery schools have a 40% annual enrollment goal for BAME students, from a general population that the recent census data says AT BEST is 18% BAME.
Please note that as much as 41% of those BAME peoples were (a) not born in the UK, and (b) include the huge influx (more than 750,000) of illegal boat people, the up to 1.3 million former Honk Kong Chinese approved for BNO visas1, and the more than 135,000 visas handed out like lollies to mostly fighting age Ukrainian men who left their mothers, wives and children and came here to avoid events in their own country by claiming refugee status2. When you factor out all of these recent illegal and divisively issued refugee status visas, that 18% more truly comes closer to 14%.
For example, in London, QMUL’s own medical school not only has this exact goal (40% BAME), but has previously employed admissions officers who deliberately roadblock applications from suitably qualified white candidates. I experienced this first hand, and each time I rose to the challenge and addressed the admissions officer’s increasingly more ridiculous requirements, another seemingly more impossible challenge was placed in my path3. Eventually one of the postgraduate students employed in the admissions phone centre that I had to keep calling in order to talk to the admissions officer for the medical school told me what the problem was. His comment, quoted here verbatim, was: “Give up. You’re the wrong colour.” Further, in a conversation with a former professor in another medical school, I was shown how in some recent years where applications from BAME were low that university had maintained the pretence of enrolling 40% BAME by reducing the number of students of other ethnicities they enrolled (predominately white students) by an equal amount. They preferred to have unoccupied ‘seats’ in that year’s medical cohort than to be seen enrolling fewer than the artificially mandated 40% BAME.
In some hospital wards now there may be no white nurses or midwives at all during some shifts. This is because in some districts BAME individuals may make up 8% or even less of the general population but, as the NHS recently gloated, due to equality and diversity university enrolment and NHS hiring policies, they make up more than 40% of doctors and almost 30% of nurses and midwives.
How can we be expected to swallow the idea that we still need to work towards this nebulous concept called equality when we see the human resources employed by our hospitals do not actually represent, and in fact grossly and unfairly exaggerate, the representation levels of these peoples?
It ceased to be about ‘seeing someone the same as me when I go to the hospital’ long ago, and has descended quite rapidly into the wholesale erasure of one group of cultural identities in the name of providing equity, rather than equality, to another.
In one case I was told that the MCAT I had completed was insufficient and that I needed to also go sit a GAMSAT (or vice versa). The admissions officer laughed in my face and said, “It’s impossible for you to do this as tomorrow is the last sitting day for that exam.” What she didn’t know was that in my previous IT career I had also been a technical trainer in centres that were Pearson Vue testing centres not just for IT industry examinations (i.e. Microsoft, VMware and Cisco), but also for the various digitally delivered MCAT, GAMSAT and BMAT tests. I also knew the head of IT at Pearson Vue for a geographical area and, on calling him, was provided with a seat at 8am the following morning in one of the testing centres in London. I sat the exam with no preparation (most medicine hopefuls will spend months preparing for this one exam) and received a mark that exceeded the entry requirements for QMUL. When the admissions officer found out the following afternoon… well… she dreamt up yet another obstacle.