Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Disparity-Proves-Discrimination Standard Gets Applied Selectively; NBA, WNBA Get an A+ for Race

Does the "disparity-proves-discrimination" standard apply here? Apparently not, this gets an A+ for race.
Share of U.S. PopulationShare of NBAShare of WNBA

If you saw the data in the chart above and were asked to make an assessment about the degree of racial diversity represented by the outcomes, how would you grade these outcomes?  After all, the racial representations diverge greatly from the racial shares in the U.S. population.  For example, blacks are 15.4% of the population, but are significantly overrepresented in these outcomes: 78% (men) and 63% (women).  Whites are 75% of the U.S. population, but are significantly underrepresented here: shares of only 17% for men and 21% for women.  Likewise, Hispanics and Asians are significantly underrepresented in the outcomes compared to their shares of the population.  

When determining your letter grade for racial diversity, consider what would happen if some of the outcomes were reversed, e.g. blacks are 15.4% of the population, but make up only say 5% of some outcome like college enrollment, managerial positions, boards of directors, city payrolls for police or fire workers, coaching positions, etc.  In most cases of gender or racial under-representation, the goal of advocacy groups or government agencies is often: perfect statistical gender or racial parity based on shares of the general population (see example here of perfect gender parity being the stated goal of the Commerce Department for STEM jobs and college majors).

Given the statistical outcomes above where whites are underrepresented by a factor of 4.4 times compared to their share of the general population (75% to 17.4%) and blacks are overrepresented by a factor of 5 times (78% vs. 15.4%) compared to their share of the general population, it would seem that the logical conclusion is that the racial outcomes above for the NBA and WNBA depart dramatically from the standard measures of diversity.  When women or minorities are underrepresented in some outcome (STEM jobs, college enrollment, etc.), efforts are made to "increase diversity" by increasing the gender or racial shares of various outcomes to the gender or racial shares of the overall population.  

But when it comes to the NBA and WNBA, much different standards of diversity are applied to the racial composition of professional basketball teams.  According to the "Racial and Gender Report Cards" (released annually by the "Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports" at the University of Central Florida) both the NBA and WNBA got letter grades of A+ for "race" in 2011 for the significant over-representation of black players and the significant under-representation of white, Hispanic and Asian players?? 

This seems pretty Orwellian in the sense that "all racial and gender groups are equal and important for purposes of diversity, but some groups are more equal than others."  For example, when women are underrepresented in STEM fields, the gender activists invoke the "disparity-proves-discrimination dogma" and mobilize resources and support to address the gender disparity. But when women are overrepresented in earning college degrees (140 females per 100 men), or 7 out of 11 graduate degrees, or outnumber male veterinarians by more than 3:1, those disparities, and the "disparity-proves-discrimination" dogma are ignored.

Likewise, now that whites, Hispanics, and Asians are significantly underrepresented in the NBA and WNBA, the "disparity-proves-discrimination" dogma is abandoned and a new mantra is adopted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports: "racial disparities-prove-success" as long as whites, Asians and Hispanics are under-represented, and deserve letter grades of A+.

Interestingly, the Institute of Diversity and Ethics is headed by two white guys who are listed as the organization's top administrators (see photo below).  What grade would they give their own organization for the category of "Top Management" (one of the categories they use for the NBA and WNBA)? Would this be an F for being 100% white and male?


At 8/30/2011 8:35 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

it's funny that people are so ready to swallow the (valid in my opinion) rationale that "the NBA just wants the best players they can find and teams hire on merit" but then rejects the same rationale when goldman sachs makes it about investment bankers.

to argue "merit" when it benefits you and then argue for "diversity and affirmative action" when it does not is hypocrisy.

At 8/30/2011 8:49 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting read, thanks for the post.

At 8/30/2011 9:25 AM, Blogger Monkeesfan said...

It begs the larger question - just what the hell good is "diversity" anyway?

At 8/30/2011 11:04 AM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

"Institute of Diversity and Ethics"

Someday I am going to start a "Foundation For Self-Dealing and Inequity."

Oh, P.U.--where do these pompous pettifoggers come from?

These guys make the pious preening of the gold-nut crowd look...well, not so bad.

At 8/30/2011 12:44 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

If one racial group comprises 80% of an employment organization and the NBA gets an A+ for Diversity then: there is no Diversity problem in the workplace. End of subject.


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