Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn


I just got one of those staff survey things from CMU, and am amused by it, specifically how much it reminds me how my job is different than most private sector stuff. It seems to pry at a number of things that just don't happen (e.g. annual performance review, which I really couldn't care less for). All things considered, I'm rather happy with my job. It's great knowing that the work I do is advancing the sciences (rather than the profits of some speculators), I often find the work interesting (at least partly because of the huge variety involved), the hours are very flexible, I have my own office (even if it's a bit lonely and remote), and I feel needed. I also have a lot of time for my own projects. Being the übergeek for a midsized non-CS research group in academia is a really nice job for a CS person. I guess another part of that is that I don't need to butt heads with other CS people who know less than I do (but don't realise it). If I didn't want to see a bit more of the world, I could imagine being happy with this as my job for the rest of my life.

Back to the survey, I get the feeling they might be fishing a bit, based on how they laid out the grids of responses, for some nice PR. Some of the questions are also kind of odd - what is your gender (male/female/transgendered -- last I checked the last wasn't a gender), do I identify as part of the gay/lesbian/bi community (not the community but one of the orientations.. hmm), the always-fun what's your race (fortunately simple for me, but I find it irritating to see inaccurate large-scale race categories - more on this below), etc.

How would I like to see broad race categories reported? Any of these might cover a lot of ground, but as it's useful in some cases to build statistics, I'd be tempted to go with something like the following:

  • Amerindian (Includes Inuits)
  • European (I'm not sure if pan-Turkic people would better fit here or as Central Asians though..)
  • American Hispanics (presumably of mixed Amerindian-European ethnicity?)
  • Middle Eastern/Central Asian (Persians, Arabs, Jews, Kurds, Azeris, *stan)
  • South Indian (Tamils, etc)
  • East Asian/Pacific Islander (Han, Japanese, Mongolians, Thai, Vietnamese, Madagasy, etc)
  • African
  • Of Multiple ethnic heritage
  • Other ethnic heritage (aborigines, etc etc)
I'm sure there's a lot of room for improvement in this - the point is, the existing categories are terrible.

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