Diversity ma non troppo

The introduction of innovations and their subsequent uptake

Diversity is a generally accepted precondition of higher collective intelligence, and usually encouraged by experts in every field where collaboration and new ideas are necessary, and of course innovation in particular.

In a paper published on March in PNAS (here open version in arxiv), a team of researchers analyse a not too surprising paradox: diversity breeds innovation, yet underrepresented groups that diversify organizations have less successful careers within them.

By analyzing data from nearly all US PhD-recipients and their dissertations across three decades, this paper finds demographically underrepresented students innovate at higher rates than majority students, but their novel contributions are discounted and less likely to earn them academic positions. The discounting of minorities’ innovations may partly explain their underrepresentation in influential positions of academia.

Hofstra, B., Kulkarni, V.V., Galvez, S.M.-N., He, B., Jurafsky, D., and McFarland, D.A. (2020). The Diversity–Innovation Paradox in Science. PNAS.
Gender and race representation relate to novelty and impactful novelty

It is not easy to measure the appearance of “new ideas” and their “uptake“, and it is interesting to understand how they manage to do it for a large body of research works. I would bet their results are plausible. We find the same pattern once and again.

Diversity and creativity and a lot more preached that practiced.

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