Attention “white cis men” on college faculties — resign now. Or at the very least take a demotion.
That’s the message Piper Harron — listed as a “temporary assistant professor” of mathematics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa — delivered with her blog post for the American Mathematical Society last week.
It’s titled “Get Out The Way.” (No, that’s not a typo.)
Presumably figuring the vast majority her blog readers are white cis men, Harron digs right in with her very first paragraph:
Not to alarm you, but I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion. Statistically speaking, you are probably taking up room that should go to someone else. If you are a white cis man (meaning you identify as male and you were assigned male at birth) you almost certainly should resign from your position of power. That’s right, please quit. Too difficult? Well, as a first step, at least get off your hiring committee, your curriculum committee, and make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person. Don’t have any in your department? HOW SHOCKING.
She goes on to echo former President Barack Obama by saying we “live in a world where people don’t succeed in a vacuum; most success happens on the backs of others who did not consent. You have no idea how successful you would have been if you were still you, but with an additional marginalization (not white, or not male, or not cis gender, or with a disability, etc).”
For Harron, solving “gender equality” means focusing on “women of color and trans people.” Not even white cis women? Do they get a shout-out in Harron’s utopia?
Not really. “Remember having white cis women run the world is no kind of solution,” she notes.
Thing is, Harron is tired of “cis male hoarders-of-power” who even ask what they can do to help. To her, such reactions are “sexist all the same.” So Harron offers some solutions.
“What can universities do?” she asks rhetorically.
Then Harron adds her answer: “Stop hiring white cis men (except as needed to get/retain people who are not white cis men) until the problem goes away. If you think this is a bad or un-serious idea, your sexism/racism/transphobia is showing.”
More from her post:
If you are on a hiring committee, and you are looking at applicants and you see a stellar white male applicant, think long and hard about whether your department needs another white man. You are not hiring a researching robot who will output papers from a dark closet. You are hiring an educator, a role model, a spokesperson, an advisor, a committee person. When you hire a non-marginalized person, you are not just supporting this one applicant whom you like, you are rewarding a person who has been rewarded his whole life. You are justifying the system that makes his application look so good. You are not innocent. You are perpetuating a system that requires your participation if not your consent. When your female students of color have no role models in your department, that’s not “meritocracy”; that’s on you. Again, if you think the “great mathematicians” are disproportionately male because of meritocracy, then your sexism is showing.
I challenge you. When the applications come in, remember society makes dominant applicants look better than they are. Society makes marginalized applicants look worse than they are. There is no objectivity. There is no meritocracy. Fight for justice. Fight even yourself. Take the risk. Entertain complicated ideas. Recognize that letting your department overflow with women would not be to your detriment. Remember that without sexism, you would expect women to sometimes be over-represented. It is exactly sexism that makes sure that that has never happened.
While Harron realizes she won’t literally convince a deluge of white cis men to resign from their college faculties, she says, “I want you to understand that you should. And to understand that by keeping your job and your other unearned privileges, you are running a continued debt to marginalized people and you should always be seeking ways to pay us back.
“Not to alarm you, but statistically speaking you are the problem,” she concludes. “Your very presence. I can’t tell you what is the best strategy for you to stop blocking my path. I can just ask that you please get out of my way.”
Campus Reform said Harron was soon noting on Facebook that “terrible people are coming out of the woodwork to tell me how awful (‘racist’ and ‘sexist’) I am for writing this post.” But alas, her Facebook page did not appear operational Thursday.