If you’re a geologist looking for a tenure-track position at a university, it makes sense that you would turn to the job postings listed on the websites for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) or the Geological Society of America (GSA). Both sites recently posted an opening for a professor at Brigham Young University… but after outcry, both groups have removed the listings.
It’s not because BYU is affiliated with the Mormon Church, but because BYU requires professors (like students) to adhere to an “honor code” that forbids sex outside of opposite-sex marriage. Gay people in relationships, then, would be out of luck.
The job posting didn’t hide the fact that applicants would have to abide by the honor code if given the job, but promoting the position itself was seen as a violation of the AGU and GSA’s own anti-discrimination policies… even though there’s no indication the honor code would’ve hampered any sort of scientific research or teaching.
“AGU has always encouraged and fostered a diverse geoscience community throughout its history because we believe — and repeatedly see — that diversity and inclusion are essential to advancing science,” Billy Williams, the union’s vice president of ethics, diversity and inclusion, wrote in a public statement. “Since the job posting from BYU referenced its Honor Code as a requirement of employment, which conflicts with our policy, we removed the job posting from our website.”
There were also calls of hypocrisy against the organizations for taking money from BYU for posting the positions at all. (GSA returned the $800 posting fee to BYU.)
Remember that the job still exists. Applicants can find it at BYU’s website. The only issue here is whether organizations meant to help scientists are doing the field a disservice by promoting a job opening at a school that values exclusion and discrimination. It’s not a matter of shutting out religious schools; they’re free to pay for those job posts as long as they’re not excluding gay people in relationships from even applying, which is effectively what BYU’s honor code does.
The flip side here is that the BYU position will now likely go to someone already in BYU-related circles as opposed to the broader community of scientists. If BYU wanted to diversify, this was a way to do it. Now they’re shut out of the best way to find qualified new blood.
But that’s their problem. Scientific organizations shouldn’t be punished for only promoting job openings that go to the best applicants, period, not ones that shut out certain people for irrational reasons.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Som for the link)