Gender Equity Program Falls Short of Promise
The ADVANCE program at UCI is one of the programs touted by feminists in an effort to counteract the disparity between the number of male and female faculty (primarily in the physical sciences and engineering). The stated purpose of ADVANCE is to address ‘gender inequities in faculty by increasing recruitment, retention and advancement of women’ in academia. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, ADVANCE carries out its objectives in part through its equity advisors in the 10 schools on campus and its seminars. ADVANCE also encourages female graduate students and postdoctarates to continue their careers in academia and become faculty members.
However, contrary to its euphemistic rhetoric, ADVANCE is an affirmative action program whose advocates see increasing the number of women in the sciences as the ultimate goal even at the cost of fairness and people’s well-being.
To justify the role of ADVANCE, its advocates promulgate a false sense of victimhood among women. In a mass e-mail sent to all female UCI graduate students and postdoctorates in the sciences promoting an ADVANCE seminar (men were not invited), the author of the e-mail (an ADVANCE equity advisor) attached two articles in order to ‘stimulate the discussion.’ Both articles paint a picture of institutionalized discrimination against women in the sciences. The article by Meg Urry titled ‘Diminished by Discrimination We Scarcely See’ suggests that a woman in the sciences is discriminated against even if she has never noticed being discriminated against. The other article written by Virginia Valian criticizes the president of Harvard University whom she claims insulted women students and scientists all over the country when he suggested that part of the reason there are more men in the sciences than women is a possible biological predisposition for some men to be more successful in the sciences. By painting women as victims, ADVANCE activists seek to justify its existence the way that affirmative action advocates have done for years.
ADVANCE activists measure the success of women in the sciences by looking at quotas. At the ADVANCE seminar for female grad students and postdoctorates, a panel of ADVANCE representatives began by first discussing the purpose of ADVANCE. The first speaker, one of the two chairs of ADVANCE, said that ADVANCE is important ‘because there are fewer women [in the sciences].