Thursday, March 2, 2017

What Is a Think Tank? Who Is a Think Tank? - PACIFIC STANDARD

by  Alyssa Sims
Originally published: February 28, 2017

Until racial diversity in think tanks reaches critical mass, perhaps the simplest metric for improvement will be a glance around the room.

“Think tank” is one of those terms, like “lobby” or “Beltway,” that doesn’t mean much outside of Washington, D.C. Yet these policy powerhouses wield enormous political cache, influencing everyone from local organizers to elected officials. Even without knowing what a think tank really does, however, the fuzziness of the concept is just vague enough to imply the Washington-insider nature of the institution, which, in turn, also hints at its demographic make-up.

In other words, you’d be forgiven for assuming that think tanks — those arbiters of information — skew very male and very white. There’s not a lot of good data, but I think we can assert they do. And here I’m laying a challenge to anyone to prove me wrong.