Friday Reading List. 27/01/23

  1. Miscellaneous Social Phenomena and The Possible Relations-to or Implications-for EDI (Today: The Beauty Premium)
  2. Modes of questioning EDI-related policy, programmes, initiatives, and discourse. (Today: Stylistic Diversity)
  3. Mandatory EDI-Related Training (Today: Diversity and Implicit Bias)
  4. Academic Mobbing


A Challenge for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: The “Beauty Premium”

Start by imagining an equity-seeking disadvantaged group of homely people. Can you imagine ticking off a quota box for this category? Or require that every institution must include enough homely people to proportionately represent the number of homely people in a university catchment area? Or job ads that state in the interest of equity, comely people need not apply? Would low self-esteem mar self-identification such that comely women identify as homely? Would the president of a federal research granting body refuse to participate on panels or in events comprised of super-models?

In a 2019 letter entitled, “Canada’s research funding agencies raise the bar for a more diverse and inclusive research community,” Ted Hewitt, SSHRC President, Digvir S Jayas, NSERC Vice-President of Council, and and Michael Strong, CIHR President, sign off as follows:

“As signatories on this letter, we personally commit to refusing to participate on panels or in events that are not inclusive and do not reflect the diversity of the Canadian population.”

“Canada’s research funding agencies raise the bar for a more diverse and inclusive research community,” President’s Desk, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Date modified: 2019-06-27,, July 27, 2022.

If you think I’m being cheeky, consider the following.

A large body of research literature has long suggested attractive people attain more success on certain metrics, e.g. higher wages, than their less attractive counterparts. And it seems to be the case that attractive female students receive higher grades than their less attractive sisters – from both male and female teachers.

I wonder what EDI proponents have to say about this phenomenon. How would one achieve equity on matters of looks? Raise your fist about lookism all you like, what are you going to do about it? Penalise attractive women? Give unattractive women an automatic bonus? Require all female students to wear full-body coverings? Segregation?

The segregation route might just be the most fair and equitable approach to grading female students of all. And it might even meet the ‘inclusive’ requirement. How so? Online learning.

In a recent article, Beth Ellwood reports on the apparent SUCCESS of this segregation in mitigating the “beauty premium” advantage, “Attractive female students no longer earned higher grades when classes moved online during covid-19.”

Ellwood notes that scholars disagree about/find difficult to explain “why people discriminate based on appearance.” 

It’d be interesting to know whether there are distinctions, and what they might be, between racial discrimination and culturally engendered sexual preferences. Or perhaps something more primal than culture is at play. These hard-wired sexual preferences, likely evolutionarily selected for, are a pretty hard thing to change. Ask any homosexual. (It would be interesting to investigate what conversion therapy and implicit bias training might have in common. It seems both attempt to change subconscious preferences. And I wonder what might make one attempt to change these preferences ethical, and the other not?)

The study referenced by Ellwood:

Mehic, Adrian. “Student beauty and grades under in-person and remote teaching,” Economics Letters,
Volume 219, 2022, 110782, ISSN 0165-1765,
(, accessed January 27, 2023.

  • Abstract: This paper examines the role of student facial attractiveness on academic outcomes under various forms of instruction, using data from engineering students in Sweden. When education is in-person, attractive students receive higher grades in non-quantitative subjects, in which teachers tend to interact more with students compared to quantitative courses. This finding holds both for males and females. When instruction moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the grades of attractive female students deteriorated in non-quantitative subjects. However, the beauty premium persisted for males, suggesting that discrimination is a salient factor in explaining the grade beauty premium for females only.


Stylistic Diversity:

Jussim, Lee. “Why I am a Rabble Rouser in Psychological Science.” Sept. 6, 2018, Psychology Today,

  • This article is a keynote address that Jussim, a social psychologist at Rutgers, delivered at the First Heterodox [Academy] Psychology Conference.
  • “And, if (social) psych [philosophy; fill-in-other-discipline] is ever to become the self-correcting science it claims to be, we need more, not fewer rabble rousers. Agitators; cranky, crabby, thick-skinned people willing to call foul on specific scientific practices, claims, and papers.”
  • “So, yes, in addition to ideological diversity – we have a whole panel on this, so I am not mentioning this again now – we need, really need, not style points, but stylistic diversity. We need the diplomatic types and we need craggy rabble rousers. We need charismatic types and quiet types who simply but powerfully model better practices. We actually need all hands on deck.”


Four Articles Skeptical of Mandatory Diversity and Implicit Bias Training:

al-Gharbi, Musa. “Research Shows Diversity Training is Typically Ineffective,” RealClear Science, December 05, 2020,, accessed January 26, 2023.

Jerry Coyne (as follows) neatly summarises al-Gharbi’s points of contention with DEI training. But to access the references, be sure read al-Gharbi’s article. Also, note that Coyne posits some suggestions for reducing “the divineness and mutual antipathy between groups.”

  • Coyne, Jerry. “One [sic] again: Diversity training doesn’t work, ditto with microaggression training, implicit bias training, or any mandatory EDI training,” Why Evolution is True, January 16, 2022,, accessed January 26, 2023.
  • al-Gharbi’s points of contention:
    • Historically, many rationales for diversity training have proven, upon later analysis, to not work very well.
    • Training is generally ineffective. 
    • Training often reinforces biases.
    • Training Can Increase Biased Behavior, Minority Turnover
    • Training Often Alienates People from High-Status Groups, Reduces Morale
    • Implicit bias training doesn’t work.
    • Training to avoid “microaggressions” doesn’t work.
    • Mandatory Training Causes Additional Blowback
    • Training Comes at the Expense of Other Priorities

Ferguson, Christopher J. “Do Diversity Statements Help Diversity? Does requiring diversity statements from university faculty help students?”, Psychology Today, October 31, 2021,, accessed January 25, 2023.

  • Ferguson is a Professor of Psychology at Stetson University with particular expertise in developmental psychology, and of media effects such as violence and aggression.
    • Requiring diversity statements for faculty applicants is becoming more common.
    • At present, little evidence suggests diversity statements work to promote diversity, student success, or harmony among diverse groups.
    • Diversity statements may mainly serve to promote ideological homogeneity within universities.

Jussim, Lee (with Mahzarin Banaji ) “Mandatory Implicit Bias Training is a Bad idea,” Psychology Today, December 17, 2017,, accessed January 25, 2023.

  • As Jussim notes, “Mahzarin Banaji, one of the most prominent psychological scientists working in the area of implicit methods, beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, and biases. She, along with Dr. Tony Greenwald, created the concept of implicit bias, which has caught on like wildfire, and was even mentioned in a Hillary Clinton election speech.”
  • Jussim believes, “that the research framed on implicit bias has been wildly oversold, and its proponents have often leaped to conclusions not justified by the data.” He’s not so worried about over-sold science within the scientific community, but rather worries its institution in colleges, universities and corporations is “premature—and potentially even dangerous.”
  • Banaji “believes it is her responsibility to teach people about implicit bias, and that when she has done so, most people who respond to her consider it a worthwhile experience.” She also believes that Jussim, “overestimate[s] the dangers of implicit bias trainings.”
  • Despite their differences, both Jussim and Banaji agree that implicit bias training “should not be mandatory.”

Okwuosa, Ashley. “‘A lot of lip service: Does mandatory diversity training actually work?,” Society, tvo today, Nov 19, 2021,, accessed January 23, 2023.

  • Okwuosa reports that while diversity programs are proliferating, so too is mandatory training. However, as Okwuosa says, “experts are not sold on its efficacy.”
  • I find the following excerpt quite interesting. While media can draw attention to social problems requiring remediation, it can also exacerbate or even create others.

And even though spending on diversity and inclusion initiatives is going up, some groups are getting left behind, Campbell says: “Diversity and inclusion are not one word. So you can be a very diverse company, but you might not be inclusive. And you can be a very diverse and inclusive company, but you still might not have anybody working for you who has a disability.” 

According to Campbell, while George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police in May 2020 led to a focus on initiatives around anti-Black racism in the workplace, increased discussions around diversity and inclusion often fail to include disability. “It seems like there is often only room for one movement at a time,” she says. “And when something happens in our society, in a local community, on a national stage, and a global stage, it will push all the other areas aside.” 

(*See also, Friday Reading List, 06/01/2023 for an extensive bibliography on Implicit Bias)

Examples of Mandatory Implicit Bias Training at Canadian Universities (*this category will appear weekly with new entries):

University of Toronto. “Unconscious Bias,” The Laboratory of Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP), Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto,, accessed January 25, 2023.

  • “Before undertaking committee work in LMP, you need to:
  1. Watch the video (1 hour) Unconscious Bias and Challenges to Fair Assessment on Vimeo
  2. Take the Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT)
  3. Then complete the online acknowledgement form.”

Lakehead University. “Strategy for Raising Equity Awareness,” Canada Research Chairs – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Program, Research & Innovation, Lakehead University,—equity-diversity-and-inclusion, accessed January 26, 2023.

  • “All CRC Search Committees and administrative staff supporting CRC searches will participate in mandatory human rights and unconscious bias training (ongoing).”

Trent University. “Trent’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan,” Canada Research Chairs – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Research & Innovation, Trent University,, accessed January 26, 2023.

  • “All CRC Search Committees and administrative staff supporting CRC searches will participate in mandatory human rights and unconscious bias training”

An Earlier Post (this site) Demonstrating Mandatory Training in Canada’s Federal Research Grating Agencies: SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR, here.


Fargas, Joseph. “Woke witch hunt in psychology? In defence of scientific integrity and due process,” Flat White, Spectator/Australia, January 9, 2023,, accessed January 25, 2023.

  • Concerning the accusations of racism levelled at “Klaus Fiedler, the Chief Editor of the prestigious journal Perspectives on Psychological Inquiry [and his subsequent dismissal]by the executive of the Association of Psychological Science.”
  • I’ll be devoting an upcoming post entirely to this case as it has international repercussions.

Seguin, Eve. “Academic mobbing, or how to become campus tormentors,” In my opinion, University Affairs/Affaires universitaires, Sept 19, 2016, , accessed January 25, 2023.

  • This is an excellent, systematic article about academic mobbing.
  • Perhaps in parallel with Hannah Arendt’s Banality of Evil, there exists the Banality of Mobbing. Most unsettling is how easy it is for anyone of us to mob. As Seguin observes: “If you’re a university professor, chances are fairly good that you have initiated or participated in mobbing. Why? First, because mobbers are not sadists or sociopaths, but ordinary people; second, because universities are a type of organization that encourages mobbing; and third, as a result, mobbing is endemic at universities.”


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