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jrlewis's picture

Definition of Diversity

Loden and Rosener's book, WorkForce in America, provides a two tiered definition of diversity. The primary tier criteria are age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, race, and sexual orientation. The second tier consists of educational background, geographic location, income level, marital status, military experiences, parental status, religious beliefs, and work experience.

This characterization of diversity differs significantly from the one used by Page and Putnam in their research. Their classification constrains the issue to class, ethnicity, and race. By so severely limiting their parameters, Page, Putnam, and other social scientists have oversimplified their model. The theories and results they have developed are interesting in terms of creativity and generativity.

However, their supporting evidence is not compelling because they have ignored too many significant variables. For example they do not address how sexual orientation relates to either educational achievement or civic engagement. In their article "Sexual Orientation and Educational Politics: Gay and Lesbian Representation in American Schools," Button, Rienzo, and Wald state that "some medical and educational professionals have called upon schools as primary socializing institutions to initiate policies and programs that address these obstacles to gay students' educational achievement and personal success."

Clearly, the situation is significantly more complex than the models Page and Putnam provide. It would be interesting to see whether or not their theories could be applied to a more realistic representation of civic engagement, education, and society.

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