Shark week needs more diversity, professor argues

A biology professor has recently argued that Discovery Channel’s 'Shark Week' is not diverse, saying too many White men named 'Mike' made the air.

The professor’s criticism of 'Shark Week' is just the latest in the push for DEI by academics, which Campus Reform has previously reported.

“Shark Week” has been entertaining American audiences for over 25 years. But a recent controversy has landed the show in dangerous waters with the sharks circling. 

A biology professor at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, has recently argued that Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week’’ is not diverse, saying too many White men named “Mike” made the air. 

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Whitenack and her team of researchers conducted a study, examining every Shark Week episode that aired from 1988-2020, according to the Washington Post.  

The researchers allege that the show perpetuated harmful negative stereotypes of sharks and also concluded that the program “fails to feature… the diversity of people performing research on sharks.” 

Discovery did not respond to the Washington Post’s request for comment.

The company told NBC Boston that it refuses to comment on a study “that has yet to pass any scientific approval,” according to the Washington Post. 

The professor’s criticism of “Shark Week,” however, is just the latest in the push for DEI by academics, which Campus Reform has previously reported. 

Campus Reform reported in August that Indiana University School of Medicine forced tenure applicants to engage with DEI.  

In order to receive tenure applicants had to “show effort toward advancing DEI,” which often included participation in activities politically aligned with DEI such as developing policies, “quality improvement efforts, and other service to the profession that has significant impact on DEI-related outcomes.”

Then in April, Campus Reform reported that the “Governing Board of California Community Colleges is considering a proposal that sets minimum diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) standards in the evaluation and tenure review process of its employees.”

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Under this proposed change, faculty would be compelled to adopt “‘anti-racist principles’ into their lesson plans and curriculum in order to ‘respect and acknowledge’ diverse students and enhance equity in terms of the results and completion of students’ classes.”

Lisa Whitenack’s drive to study “Shark Week” through the lens of DEI is emboldened by the broader movement in academia.

In a separate study entitled “What Can Professional Scientific Societies Do to Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Case Study of the American Elasmobranch Society,” which is authored by several academic scientists, Whitenack argues that “Professional scientific societies… could play a more significant role in improving the culture and practices of science, particularly as they related to DEI issues.”

Campus Reform has contacted all parties mentioned for comment.