Animal Behavior Society requires DEI statements for student grants

October 27, 2023 • 12:15 pm

This is not the only grant I know abut that requires a DEI statement, but it’s the only student grant I know that does that.  I may, of course, have missed some, but these grants from the Animal Behavior society are grants for specific research projects, and it seems wrong to me to co-opt an initiative designed to promote scientific research to also achieve specific social-justice aims as well.

And, as we all know, DEI statements must be of the right kind to help you get jobs, promotions, or money. That is, you can’t get away with using the MLK statement that “we judge people on the content of their character [read “research proposal” for “character” here] rather than the color of their skin.” Making statements like that, or saying, “I treat all students equally,” or “I do not discriminate on the basis of race or gender,” is a sure route to failure.  Thus, DEI statements are always required as either substitutes for affirmative action or to promote equity; in other words, they promote adoption of specific ideologies.

Clear to read this announcement from the Animal Behavior Society, sent by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. It gives out grants to support not just student research, but specific research projects. 


In one way these mimic scientific grants submitted to the NIH and NSF, in which scientists propose specific research projects, laying them out and discussing the possible results.

Bolding, except for headers, is mine; content of the announcement is indented

Important Notes:

  • Individuals may receive only one ABS research grant during their lifetime. Receipt of an ABS research grant does not preclude receipt of a Developing Nations Grant in a subsequent year, and receipt of a Developing Nations Grant one year does not preclude the receipt of an ABS research grant in a subsequent year.
  • All grant applications are required to include a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Statement that will be evaluated in the review process (see details below).
  • All Grants should be submitted online following the Guidelines listed below.

General Guidelines:

  • Give the proposed work a clear conceptual context and theoretical rationale (reviewers will assess proposals for conceptual significance and intellectual merit).
  • Clearly state the feasibility of the proposed work.
  • Obtain input from others on successive drafts.
  • Consider how you and/or your research contribute to the diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education, your research field, and/or ABS
  • Before submission, it is suggested that you have a final draft of your proposal critically reviewed by established researchers, including a senior scientist.
  • Clearly state the hypotheses that you propose to test.
  • Describe the statistical analyses that you will use for the data that you collect; if your work will be based on techniques that require special statistical justification, include information that will allow reviewers to evaluate them.
  • Any pilot data that you include could strengthen the quality of your proposal.
  • Start far enough in advance of the closing date to allow time to think about your proposed work in depth, to read relevant published materials, and to obtain input from colleagues. . . .

What you have to submit:

  • Research Proposal (Pages 1-4 | 4 pages max)
    • Summary of Proposed Work
    • Introduction
    • Hypothesis(es) to be tested
    • Proposed Research
    • Predicted Outcomes
    • Importance of Proposed Research
    • Diversity Equity and Inclusion Statement  <—
    • Bibliography
  • Budget and Justification (Pages 5 | 1 page max)
  • Curriculum Vitae (Pages 6-7 | 2 pages max)
  • Animal Care Questionnaire (Page 8 | 1 page max)

And the requirements for the DEI statement, which are twice as long as the “proposed research”!

Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Statement

To promote excellent science and dedication to diversity, all research grants are required to have a diversity equity and inclusion statement to highlight applicants’ communication skills, resiliency in the face of setbacks, high standards of ethics and integrity, and commitment to inclusive and equitable science that promotes diversity in the field of animal behavior.

The DEI Statement is an opportunity to describe your contributions to diversity which might fall into the following categories.

  • Reflection on educational, cultural, economic, or social experiences, that have shaped your academic journey or that influence others.

  • Past actions and future plans for active engagement (e.g., employment, service, teaching or other activities) in programs focused on increasing participation by groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education or programs focused on educating/correcting a majoritarian group or system.

  • Past actions and future plans for personal, research, teaching, or mentorship contributions to diversity in general and specifically within ABS.

Of course they don’t tell you exactly what kind of diversity you’re supposed to promote, but it’s nearly always racial diversity (with perhaps a smidgen of gender diversity). It’s certainly not ideological or viewpoint diversity, as those don’t count as “underrepresented groups.”  Further, look at the part about “educating/correcting a majoritarian group or system”. That’s pure identity-shaming, and it’s reprehensible.

If you don’t talk about race, then, you can probably forget about that grant.  Further, the tripartite outline of the DEI statement largely mirrors the tripartite nature of what many schools (like the University of California system) require, or used to require:  a). your philosophy of diversity, b). what you did in the past to foster diversity, and c). what you will do if you get the job (grant in this case) to foster diversity.

Now I know of other grants that require DEI statements.  Our joint paper “In Defense of Merit in Science” mentions the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).  But neither the NSF nor NIH requres DEI statements, which would probably be deemed illegal. (I’m not sure how the DoE gets away with it.) At any rate, now our students are being roped into expressing “progressive ideology” if they want to get grants. This system, of course, appears to discriminate against those students who want to do research but disagree with the “progressive” view of DEI.

Ideology should play no role in whether or not you get money to do science.

8 thoughts on “Animal Behavior Society requires DEI statements for student grants

  1. I bet if the grant cites literature from UNESCO / UN on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – specifically for “Sustainability” – it would impress Klaus I mean the reviewer.


    Parr, et. al.

    Knowledge-driven actions: transforming higher education for global sustainability

    (I checked that the doi goes to UNESCO when I posted)

    Yes I posted that the other day. It would be fun to do a “sustainability” word count on the document – they regularly state it throughout.

    Also, “dialog” and “engagement” would be good to put in – i.e. euphemism for activism or demonstration to get it onto TikTok, etc.

    … the part above about “reflection” (though being reflective is generally good), strikes me as (I know I know) Hegelian, as Hegel’s philosophy was “speculative” reflection on reality… seems it could get rather expansive.

  2. My interpretation of “commitment to inclusive and equitable science that promotes diversity in the field of animal behavior” is simple: a commitment to help animals to behave as diversely as they can. The buck that ran through that restaurant in Wisconsin, a shining example, should be included immediately in my project—but we would also try to recruit roes for similar behaviors. Unfortunately, I am a little past the age of applying for a student grant.

  3. Consider a graduate student in the field who came in from overseas, in particular from anywhere from Asia or from the Middle East. They would not have any background in this sort of stuff and so one has to wonder how they might even begin to spin this yarn.

    1. Clever point – almost as if nobody is supposed to say that – why? (drawing from Dawkins):

      Because you’re not!

  4. Creating ideological incentives in science, what could go wrong? It’s not like science needs to be as free from biases as possible to work best. /s

    But seriously, do these people not realise that when it comes to affirmative action (ie. discriminating against certain “advantaged” groups on the basis of race) they’re essentially admitting the only reason they’re not discriminating against disadvantaged groups is because they are disadvantaged. It’s not unconditional. I would think we would have learned by now that discriminating on the basis of race, for any reason, is inherently bad full stop.

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