We were astonished to read Geneva Overholser's Sept. 7 op-ed piece hailing Condoleezza Rice as a woman who "shows deep concern for inequity." Overholser's disregard of Rice's record at Stanford University is shocking. During Rice's tenure as provost, complaints of race and gender bias in hiring, promotion and allocation of research funds skyrocketed. In response to a 400-page complaint submitted by female and minority faculty, the Labor Department is investigating the university for widespread discrimination in violation of federal equal opportunity laws. At stake is the more than $500 million that Stanford receives annually in government contracts and grants.
Overholser praises Rice's "powerful skepticism" for anything that "smacks of softness or lack or discipline when it comes to extending opportunity." In that same vein, Rice derides affirmative action as a "slippery slope" that allows the promotion of "borderline" women but not "borderline" men. In response to criticisms concerning the lack of diversity in the Stanford faculty, Rice said "I do not believe in, and in fact will not apply, affirmative action" in promotions. However, speaking of her own rise to power at Stanford, she proclaimed "I myself am a beneficiary of a Stanford strategy that took affirmative action seriously." By her own account, she was a "risk" when she was appointed to the faculty, and when later appointed provost, she lacked even the experience of chairing a department.
So are we to believe that affirmative action worked for her but would be "soft" and show a lack of "discipline" for everyone else? This contradiction is either stupid, dishonest or both. For reasons we cannot fathom, Rice is loath to extend to others the same considerations that lifted her to a position of power and privilege.
-- Linda Mabry and
Linda Mabry is a former associate
professor at Stanford Law
School and Colleen Crangle is a
former senior research scientist at
the Stanford School of Medicine.