Reflections · Service-Learning

Sociological Imagination & Diversity Gaps

I appreciate the introduction provided me by Randy Stoecker to the concept of sociological imagination, a term coined by C. Wright Mills in 1959. It is a way of seeing the broader sociological situations that result in many people experiencing similar outcomes.

And so it was with interest that I read a piece regarding the diversity gap in Silicon Valley. This is one of a series of diversity gap studies that include: the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, the children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films, and US politics. That it is a series really stood out when I read this, and led me to pondering several questions…

To what extent do we work to address the diversity gap as separate issues in different industries, and to what extent do we come to grips with an overall shared societal situation that normalizes being white, male, and heterosexual? Much is made of the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education at the earliest grade levels to increase diversity in the pipeline. But what if every other part of child rearing still reinforces these norms? Can we piecemeal our way out of this system of marginalization and oppression? Or do we need to follow Martin Luther King, Jr.’s path in the last year of his life in particular, when he recognized that we must address the multitude of oppressions in their entirety because oppressions and the systems that propagate them are massively intersecting?

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