- To strengthen with new evidence or facts
- To declare solemnly as true
- To support or encourage
I had no intention of posting today until I read several opinion pieces on Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Rather than rehash everything in detail, I'll just say some people see the issue as:
- "It's about time we had Latino representation on the Court. Sotomayor is an accomplished woman and will help set the stage for a fairer, more representative government."
- "This is clearly an affirmative action hire, ie, reverse racism. If you look at her records and lawyers who have been in court with her, she does not have the same level of brilliance or ability as other Supreme Court judges. We are watering down our ideals of justice by making decisions rooted in the color of someone's skin."
I want to for a moment step back and look at similar comments about women in academia. Some men believe that anything good that comes a woman's way is because of her gender. I was told by a labmate of mine that Woman Y received an NSF grad fellowship "probably because she's black and female." I asked him whether he knew how well she did in school and whether her fellowship MIGHT be because of her academic performance, and he confessed that he didn't know about her background. Sooo... why the hell would he make such a stupid assumption?
Men I've worked with have made similar assumptions about me. Luckily I've never had to wonder whether I or the talented women I know were granted awards because we're women... we were too busy kicking butt in courses and intellectual ideas. It's amazing to me that a man who has a significantly lower GPA in undergrad can still think the reason a woman received the fellowship he didn't is because of her gender, rather than the fact that she graduated at the top of her class. (And people claim women are the illogical ones?)
There are awards out there geared towards encouraging women and minorities in underrepresented fields like science and engineering. Would I accept such an award / fellowship if it were offered me? For example to help with my lab start-up costs when I become a faculty member? Yes! Just as any man would. But I do sometimes wonder whether setting up these enablers will just lead to "those on the outside" assuming we couldn't have made it without the added help, or that somehow we're just not innately "good enough". I've heard African Americans voice similar concerns about affirmative action repercussions (and then take cover as every liberal minded academic accuses them of treason for voicing any such concerns). Thoughts?