We refer to this topic as systemic racism
September 10, 2020 11:19 AM   Subscribe

At a time when COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting BIPOC populations, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is independently trying to grapple with well-documented lower funding rates for African American/Black scientists. On that topic, they have found that the choice of topic is a key driver of theses disparities. This is similar to work showing that minority scientists often pick more innovative topics, with little reward. What is one topic that AA/B scientists choose: minority health disparities.

Some (simplistic) definitions:
NIH: National Institutes of Health - the primary source of biomedical funding from the US government
R01: the primary grant mechanism that scientists outside of the NIH apply for to receive funding from the NIH
PI: Primary investigator: the scientists submitting the grants.
posted by lab.beetle (3 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have to wonder if it's the fact that Black scientists pick "un-rewardable" topics, or if the topics that Black scientists pick are then deemed un-rewardable. Probably both. It's a well documented, though still occurring, blight upon "women's work", as I'm sure Metafilter is aware of at this point.

thank you for this post. I'm a junior in university studying public health, and will try to find a way to insert this study into as many class discussions as I can. I am being as loudly and proudly anti-racist as I can be in the "classroom" while white. My first zoom meeting with my chem professor, I saw a younger student with a huge TRUMP 2020 banner hanging behind her - my heart stopped and I can't imagine the grief that a black student would feel seeing that. But we all have equal opportunities at education, right guys? right?
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:43 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


I have to wonder if it's the fact that Black scientists pick "un-rewardable" topics, or if the topics that Black scientists pick are then deemed un-rewardable. Probably both. It's a well documented, though still occurring, blight upon "women's work", as I'm sure Metafilter is aware of at this point.

This is absolutely my feeling, especially when you see all of the absolute shit that gets grants. Who was the US Congressperson who had an annual dog and pony show announcing the worst scientific grants? Chiefly received by white people I bet you. You wouldn't last as a federally funded Black scientist if you were spending your money and time figuring out if Angora yarn can be used as a clock pendulum or something, even if you could write the successful grant proposal.

There's a saying I've heard, "crime is defined as the behavior of the losers in the class war," and "unrewardable science" totally fits that framework. It's really stark, in a year when the light is being shone on a larger spectrum of mistreatment visited upon Black people than we've seen in a long time, that there is simply a consistent history of coming up with spurious reasons to neglect and disregard every single interest and idea Black people have (had).
posted by rhizome at 5:54 PM on September 10 [5 favorites]


This is a problem in linguistics too. Many linguists of color are sociolinguists, which is sometimes derided as not real linguistics. Sociolinguistics is often not even taught as one of the "core" linguistics classes.

But in my opinion, sociolinguists are doing some of the most important work in linguistics, because their work helps us understand society and its problems.

Anyway. I don't know how it compares to medicine, but I'm curious about other fields. For example, how does this play out in history, anthropology, engineering, literature, etc? I imagine the problems are both similar and different, but I don't really know.

Right now, graduate student instructors at my university are striking for a better Covid-19 response and for defunding the university police - one action in a long history of actions trying to make the university a safer and more just place for people of color. So little progress has been made. The rot is so deep.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:39 PM on September 11


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