Dear Member of any race/gender/sexualorientation/whatever:
Haven't you learned that if people decide to take offense on your behalf, you should thank them? Their vicarious offense taken at a naughty word on your behalf means that you're wrong for not being personally wounded at least as much as they are. After all, if they were to take offense at the word on your behalf and you yourself didn't feel in the slightest degree aggrieved that would mean they're being unreasonable, and we can go around having that - now can we?
During the nonversation, an individual posting under the handle Chidi Baptiste [comment number 103] over there wrote, in part:
The main reason why we're not there is because racial minorities and women in the western world statistically tend to be more religious then [sic] white men
I'm dubious that this distinction is true. I'm aware there's a perception that this is true, but almost every black person I know (including the women) is irreligious. Hell, my father attends a UU Church whose priest is a reformed Jewish atheist black lady.
One of the reasons that we see certain demographic samplings is because people fail to treat women, blacks, gays, whatevers as equals in that they're treated as people who are so weak and fragile that they need to be categorized as being unable to walk through a door without requiring some special recognition. Take Obama being the "first black president". The problem with his being president isn't that he's black. Or that he's the first black one. The problem is that most people are so happy to show how progressive and "tolerant" they are they need to rush to the observation that he's black so that we'll all know how progressive we are. You'll know you've reached a good state of affairs when Obama starts being referred to as simply as "the president" without any mention of his skin color.
The same will be true when we stop marking milestones as "the first woman" to do x. How about when a person who is incidentally black, or a woman, or gay does something that the something done is noted exclusively for having been done by that person without the need to draw these distinctions which add nothing whatever to the thing that's been done? Why not just let it stand on its own merits with the cordial, obligatory attribution to the person who did it?
One of my complaints with, say, the military's promotion process is burdened by this insidiousness. And I have a problem with how scientific articles are refereed. And all similar organizations - why does it matter what race or gender the writer/applicant is? All that jazz bears not one jot on the merits of the issue.
Process Equality, a rough sketch:
To be promoted beyond certain ranks in the military, one has to submit to the department of the [insert branch name here] a promotion packet containing the applicant's full name and picture. Then their works. How about if the applicant's paperwork is sent to one group, which uses a unique, exclusive coding system to track what it's sent. Then tie that to another coding system (though through a different section of the same organization that is wholly independent of the other) that tracks what's sent out. Then send that out to the deciding agency which only sees the code from the "shipping out" department who will have beforehand scrubbed the packet of all personal, gender, race, age information on which grounds the final determining authority then may decide the promotion according to the merits of the works done, constrained by the number of available billets. Seems reasonable to me.
Thereafter, the final decision is sent to yet a third agency which is completely divorced from the first two, and thus has no way to access a.) the original application, b.) the reception code, or c.) the shipped out code. This agency being responsible only for reporting (and ultimate reconciliation of the disparate codes) the end-result of the process, has had no access to any of the information until the final decision is fully complete. Then, after all decisions have been made, the original applicant, ships his/her application to them. The original independent coding agency sends over the initial coding and the application to which it was originally attached. And the second department in the first independent agency sends over the shipped out code. And then the deciding agency sends over their results corresponding to the shipped out code so that this third agency can then marry all of those data together and release (publicly) all of the coding and sorting so that all of the data are for the first time tied to the original application.
It is at this point that suddenly everyone is simultaneously aware of who has been promoted.
Same with peer-reviewed journals.Devise some system that keeps the submitting party completely opaque to the reviewers. And the reviewers opaque to each other. And the referee is opaque to all of them who are also completely opaque to the referee. Only after all the reviewing and revisions are done and the article is about to be published should the codes be integrated to find out whose paper is being published and by whom it's been reviewed with whatever referee it had. This is a perfectly blind process which removes the ability to even have the appearance of favoritism. All parties are opaque to all other parties; as such, all that can factor in is the information being evaluated.
But we're not interested in these things. How do I know? I'm not the first to suggest it, and no one is implementing a completely blind system that equalizes the field in to terms of merit and merit only.
It's not at all, therefore, surprising to see that it's nigh impossible to have any reference made to certain prominent women, or black people, or gay people without making it known they're gay, black or female as though these labels bear at all on substance. These attributions bear on form and politics to the detriment of actual progress. We're tribal as people. We know this. Why do we not arrange a system that recognizes we are that and then defeats it so that an actual meritocracy is what we have? After all of that is said and done, we'll be a lot further along the road towards being able to allocate blame for failure and credit for success on where it should naturally lie: in the mirror.