Equity Vs. Excellence: A False Dichotomy In Science And Society

Society Author: S. James Gates, Jr. The first commitment of a scientist ought to be to using logical and rational effort to comprehend objective reality without regard to one's emotions or prejudices. Those of us who have had the privilege of a scientific career and love the doing of science are hard pressed not to accept this as one of the paradigms in our view of life. Recently, as an African American, I have often been asked about my attitudes and opinions regarding affirmative action and di

James Gates
Jul 9, 1995

Society Author: S. James Gates, Jr. The first commitment of a scientist ought to be to using logical and rational effort to comprehend objective reality without regard to one's emotions or prejudices. Those of us who have had the privilege of a scientific career and love the doing of science are hard pressed not to accept this as one of the paradigms in our view of life. Recently, as an African American, I have often been asked about my attitudes and opinions regarding affirmative action and diversity in scientific, engineering, and technical fields. In response to this, I have spent some effort thinking about these matters.

Before I address the former issue, I wish to propose some reasons as to why the issue of diversity is of such paramount importance in complex endeavors like science. These reasons are themselves based on experience with the natural world. It is almost universally...