COB-3: gender in college bureaucratic work

This month’s contest for Bureaucrat-of-the-Month was close and difficult to decide. But decisions must be made. Petitions for Reconsideration will be accepted as usual.

Top bureaucratic honor this month goes to a committee of 18 eminent public figures. The Committee was sponsored by the National Academies — the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. This committee included five university presidents and chancellors, a Dean of Science, an Executive Vice Provost, a Co-Director, two Heads, an Editor-In-Chief, and nine Impressively Titled Professors. A large committee of prominent experts is bound to produce bureaucratic excellence. This committee exceeded expectations.

In addition to holding meetings, the Committee produced a 364-page report on a fundamental challenge to the U.S. “amid increasing economic and educational globalization.” This challenge isn’t to make a better future for men and for women who care about men in a country where about 140 women now receive college degrees for every 100 men who receive degrees. The challenge isn’t to meet better the needs of boys who are often deprived of contact with their fathers, who face a public education system in which most of their teachers are female, and who are disproportionately drugged into docility and conformity. No, keenly intelligent readers, the grave challenge is to increase the share of female professors in science and engineering. After all, as the report explains, “the United States must aggressively pursue the innovative capacity of all its people.” In emphasizing the importance of increasing the share of female professors in science and engineering, this committee of leading educational figures in science and engineering (17 women, 1 man) brilliantly illustrates the value of bureaucracy for aggressively pursuing innovative approaches.

Despite an apparent lack of constraint on the type of recommendations it might issue, The Committee, like most bureaucracies, did not act as vigorously as it might have. The Committee emphasized the importance of gender accounting and forming new administrative bodies:

And departments should be held accountable for the equity of their search processes and outcomes, even if that means canceling a search or withholding a faculty position. The report also urges higher education organizations to consider forming a collaborative, self-monitoring body that would recommend standards for faculty recruitment, retention, and promotion; collect data; and track compliance across institutions. [National Academies news release]

The Committee also issued recommendations to journals, foundations, professional and educational societies, honorary societies, federal agencies, and Congress. But note: The Committee failed to issue recommendations to bloggers. It did not recommend mandating careful blog reading.

The Committee’s review of scientific evidence revealed an extremely significant but seldom recognized problem:

Anyone lacking the career and family support traditionally provided by a “wife” is at a serious disadvantage in academe, evidence shows. [National Academies news release]

With respect to “specific recommendations on how to make the fullest use of a large share of our nation’s talent,” that is, the talents of single persons, the Committee offered nothing. It did not even issue a call to action to ensure that single persons “see a career path that allows them to reach their full intellectual potential.” This is truly Beyond Bias. With my meager influence as an obscure blogger, I’ve attempted to address the pressing problem that our educational leaders have recognized.

A close second to the Committee for bureaucratic honors is Wikipedia. Nicholas Carr at Rough Type has thoroughly documented this achievement, as well as explored the interesting related issue of expertise. Mr. Carr describes Wikipedia as an “emergent bureaucracy.” He notes that Wikipedia has already surpassed key performance standards: “Wikipedia today has more layers of bureaucracy than the average Fortune 500 company and more factions than the Italian parliament.”

Of considerable importance is the question of whether Wikipedia qualifies for the Carnival of the Bureaucrats under Rule 2.a. No parties have disputed that Wikipedia is an Internet enterprise. Internet enterprise operate on Internet Time. According to commonly recognized standards, one year of normal time equals seven years of Internet Time. Wikipedia was founded on January 15, 2001. It is thus approximately 5.71 years old in normal time. Hence we estimate that Wikipedia is 39.99 years old in Internet Time. Thus Wikipedia satisfies Carnival of the Bureaucrats’ Rule 2.a.A, or, in the alternative, Rule 2.a.B.

Other carnival entries:

Purpleslog presents Physical Security and Social Engineering With A Bonus PurpleSlog Story, saying, “My Failed Attempt To Fight Workplace Theft and My Interaction With Security Bureaucrats.”

Aleksandr Kavokin, MD, PhD at RDoctor Medical Portal presents How do they make a guinea pig out of you? Part 2 saying, “about process of drug development – bureaucratic and not,” and How do they use you as guinea pig? Part3, saying, “about clinical trials.”

That concludes this edition of the Carnival of the Bureaucrats. Submit your blog article to the next edition using our carnival submission form.