Will Layoffs be based on Diversity?
In recent weeks, the USA Today and National Public Radio have crowed that this recession is different: most of those losing jobs were men (and predominantly white). This is “encouraging” according to these news outlets.
Why is it good? Because a majority of the workforce is now made up of women; and blacks have not been hurt as much as whites (the media seem to have forgotten about Asians and Hispanics but what else is new?). This is an advance in gender, if not racial, diversity. Whooo. One wonders how those women married to unemployed men think about their gender’s “advance.”
Is this recession different? We won’t know until later but with “diversity accomplishments” now part of our academic job descriptions, there is reason to think that we may be evaluated accordingly when (or if) layoffs occur. After all, what better way to “diversify” the faculty than to adopt the slogan:
“First thing we do, fire all the white males!”
Employers are fearful of employment-related lawsuits and this is the first recession to seriously threaten academic jobs since 1982. The Diversity Machine has grown enormously since 1982, when it was only a glimmer in the eyes of campus social engineers. Today it is an industry that influences accreditation bodies, professional associations, and university practices (think of the money set aside for “diversity hires”).
If universities can make diversity hires, why not make the same decision when firing people?
Time to dust off your computer screen and search for labor relations law in your state. Those of us with unions ought to contact them too if the proverbial four-letter word “hits the fan.”