Dec 9, 2006

"We need a leadership that reflects our population" [LINK]

I have to admit I find the term "Asian-American" particularly grating, being only slightly less vague than "earthling," but will use it just the stay in the game:

Echoing a UMass-Boston study, the Globe's editors declare that relative to their proportion of the state population, some minorities' representation among state appointees is "shamefully low." We are supposed to feel compelled to close such gaps, increasing overall minority representation by about 50 percent, from 11 to 16 percent of the population.

At the same time, we learn that African Americans are overrepresented in top state jobs to roughly the same degree. So why do the editors characterize this as a "hopeful sign" rather than as "shamefully high"? If the point of this exercise in diversity really is to match the proportion of the population, here's another way we're not getting it right.

While it's plausible Latinos' underrepresentation may be due to their wider dispersal across the state away from the seat of government, I doubt the same is true of Asian Americans, the other group whose absence from state jobs is supposed to concern us. If, as I suspect, Asians tend to be relatively high-skilled and with greater professional options open to them, would the Globe be willing to call it a "hopeful sign" that so many of them choose not to work in state government?

UPDATE: Turns out a major premise behind the study was bogus. When looking at the high school graduates who form the eligible pool for state jobs rather than the population as a whole, minority representation evens out.

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