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CAVEMEN? No one actually typed that, did they? Jeeze, it's the Geico commercial. Even your last question is wrong, Liz, because it pre-supposes that the current structures for decision making are correct ones, and people with a minority viewpoint have to conform to them. But that's the purpose of diversity, of any kind; it brings in fresh viewpoints that energize the decision-making process. If you have a board for an organization that raises money for deaf research, and you look for a hearing-impaired person who can fully participate in your conference calls, you've missed the input of someone who communicates by ASL. If you have a board that supports a peace process in the Middle East and schedule your meetings on Yom Kippur or Ramadan, you've lost the participation of people who won't attend on those holidays. YOU'VE lost. Diversity prevents losses to the organization, losses to the community as a whole, it's not just a handout to those poor little oppressed people, or a sop to the vanity of the people nice enough to try to lift them up. It's not the same question and the same answer, Liz. Not at all. Just as the social sciences have been shaped by the participation of women in the research process, women who came with their own life experience that informed their approaches, so the physical sciences have responded to the input of scientists from all backgrounds, whose personal stories and motivations have changed the way we do science. Science is no longer a hobby activity of wealthy men. That's a pretty huge change, and in a short while. So it behooves, in my opinion, any organization that wants to do the real science around autism to stir their stumps and work to get more declared autistics on their board, and in their organization as a whole. Not because it looks good. Because it's valuable, per se.
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Feb 25, 2011