About two months ago I highlighted this quote:
Diversity is not just demographic/identity. It includes knowledge, expertise, personality and thinking styles #NPA2015
— Shakira M. Nelson (@DrNelson_PhD) March 14, 2015
Also consider this passage on why diversity matters from my friend Kenny Gibbs:
However, while it’s important to avoid essentializing people (i.e., saying that an individual’s descriptive social identity prescribes something about how they will approach life and problem-solving), people from different backgrounds do, on average, tend to approach work and problem solving differently. These differences can bring new perspectives needed to promote innovation.
So if a primary benefit of diversity is different thinking and problem solving styles…why not just skip the whole race/gender/sexual orientation bit and go straight for that? Yes it’s true that on average different social groups approach problems differently and have different thinking styles. But on average, different thinking styles have different thinking styles! Why not make that your primary diversity metric and optimize for diversity along that dimension? Or at the very least, why don’t we pay attention to it more as a meaningful measure of diversity in and of itself?