Google and IBM are quietly backtracking in the wake of Washington Free Beacon reports about the companies capping the number of white and Asian students whom universities can nominate for prestigious research fellowships, which required that half of each school’s nominees be underrepresented minorities.
Both companies dropped the caps after lawyers told the Free Beacon that they likely violated civil rights laws. The fellowships, which provide graduate students with generous stipends and mentorship opportunities, still ask schools to nominate a diverse pool of candidates, but no longer limit how many whites and Asians can apply.
Just two weeks ago, Google insisted its nominating criteria for the Google Ph.D. Fellowship were legal, describing them as “extremely common” and maintaining that they followed “all relevant laws.” Since then, however, the tech giant has replaced its diversity mandates with suggestions. “If more than two students are nominated,” the new nominating criteria state, “we strongly encourage additional nominees who self-identify as a woman, Black / African descent, Hispanic / Latino / Latinx, Indigenous, and/or a person with a disability.”
The original language stipulated that if a university “chooses to nominate more than two students … the third and fourth nominees must self-identify as a woman, Black / African descent, Hispanic / Latino / Latinx, Indigenous, and/or a person with a disability.”
IBM, meanwhile, quietly dropped a requirement that half of the nominees for its Ph.D. fellowship program be “diversity candidates”—after the Free Beacon contacted IBM for comment—and replaced it with a request that schools “consider a diverse slate of candidates.”