The virtues of diversity

Lani Guinier of Harvard Law School touts the virtues of diversity (emphasis added):

Diversity is not simply a matter of having people who look different sitting next to each other but learning in the same way. What I’m trying to introduce into the conversation is the power of collaboration, of bringing together people who bring different kinds of skills to solving a problem. That diversity can empower creative ways of learning.

Studies show that groups made up of the highest-performing individuals are not as good at solving complex multidimensional problems — like designing environmental policies, cracking codes or creating social welfare systems — as groups with a mix of skills, backgrounds and ways of thinking, even if the individuals in the group are not all high performers. That’s important, since this world has a lot of complex problems we need to solve.

I’m trying to develop an idea about intellectual diversity that I’ll expound on over the next few weeks. For now think about that quote in the context of my previous posts on diversity in science.

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