Monday, July 13, 2009

Diversity Rules


A few years ago I was privileged to partake of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program for women. This course was a year-long, highly selective experience for women embarking on administrative careers in medical and dental schools in North America. It was one of the best professional experiences of my life. The content was not particularly novel; I had learned a lot of stuff in my earlier forays into leadership training. No, by far the best part was the network of like-minded women that I encountered. I have stayed in touch with many of them through the present time. When I have questions about something at work, I know I will be able to find an appropriate colleague to engage in discussion.

My husband asked one question about my experience: Why are men excluded? The short answer: there are lots and lots of white male chairs, deans, and chancellors, but far fewer females in these positions. While men could use this training (hubby wanted to nominate a few who could use some skills), they have other venues through which they can obtain it, and it doesn’t seem like they need the boost to get these positions.

I am reminded again today, as I listen to the senate judiciary hearings on the Sotomayor nomination, of how crazy our government can be. We all bring our own experiences and point of view to everything we do. The only way to eliminate our memories and emotions from decisions is to eliminate the human factor, to turn them over to a computer. After all, those white males do not all agree on everything! There is diversity within the white males of congress!

Being a Latina who grew up in the Bronx might color her judgment? But being an ivory league legacy who grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn’t?

For years we had a paternalistic government and court we had to trust to look out for everyone’s needs. I am glad we have government and courts that look more like the US now. I hope that this continues, and that every sector of society can follow suit. I am not talking about promoting incompetent individuals just because of their sex or ethnicity. I just can’t believe that this country hasn’t produced enough competent individuals of every sex, color, and creed to provide truly representative government and industry.

OK, my rant is over. The bottom line is that we all should remember that our perceptions are colored by our experiences. We should value the perceptions and experiences of those who have followed a different path; we may learn something in the process.

Art courtesy of

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