Federal science grants increasingly promote ‘woke’ ideas, study finds

Federal science grants increasingly promote ‘woke’ ideas, study finds
Duke's Levine Science Research Center. Wikipedia: By NPatrick6 - uploaded on wikipedia by NPatrick6 ; PD, Public Domain, Link

The Washington Examiner reports that “nearly a third of government science grant abstracts now use terminology such as “equity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion,”” according to a recent study. That’s up from less than 3% in 1990.

The study, published on November 16 by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, describes how the National Science Foundation, the government’s biggest provider of scientific grants, has greatly increased the use of these “highly politicized terms” in grant abstracts.

“The frequency of documents containing highly politicized terms has been increasing consistently over the last three decades,” the study found. In 2020, “30.4% of all grants had one of the following politicized terms: ‘equity,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ ‘gender,’ ‘marginalize,’ ‘underrepresented,’ or ‘disparity.’ This is up from 2.9% in 1990.”

As the Washington Examiner notes,

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While all academic fields have seen a substantial increase in the use of the aforementioned terms in grant abstracts, certain ones saw a substantially larger increase than others.

Education and human resources jumped from a minuscule 4.3% in 1990 to a staggering 53.8% in 2020, while math and physical science increased from 0.9% to 22.6%.

The study was authored by Leif Rasmussen, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at Northwestern University who said he started looking into the issue while researching how to write a grant proposal for himself.

“I started looking through the archives of NSF grant proposals for work that was kind of similar to mine,” Rasmussen said. “And then I just got kind of curious about the frequency of usage of a lot of these diversity, equity, and inclusion terms and if it’s increasing.”

Rasmussen said the rise of diversity, equity, and inclusion terminology could “be filtering out” conservative applicants for NSF grants, as they are less likely to employ such woke jargon.

“It serves to kind of filter people out, it seems like kind of a political litmus test built into this funding for science,” he said. “This is some positive evidence… that the NSF is getting politicized.”

The study also describes how grant abstracts have become more and more alike, regardless of academic discipline, since 1990.

“This arguably shows that there is less diversity in the kinds of ideas that are getting funded,” the study says. “This effect is particularly strong in the last few years, but the trend is clear over the last three decades when a technique based on word similarity, rather than the matching of exact terms, is used.”

“Taken together,” the study says, “the results imply that there has been a politicization of scientific funding in the US in recent years and a decrease in the diversity of ideas supported, indicating a possible decline in the quality of research and the potential for decreased trust towards scientific institutions among the general public.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.

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