Representation and Recognition
- Corley 2020: While colleges have enrolled more women than men for years, a recent Forbes finds women working in higher education, especially those of color, continuing to face systemic issues that hinder their career advancement, rendering them a rare sighting in academia.
- Klawe 2020 and Goldberg 2019 : Columbia University geoscientists state that the lack of diversity in climate change research can lead to the disregard of a study’s’ impact on people from marginalized communities, and NYU artificial intelligence researchers conclude that the lack of women in the forefront of AI development results in flawed AI systems that perpetuate gender and racial biases.
- Asare 2019: Little change in ethno-racial diversity in higher education has been justified by many reasons, outlined by Asare in a 2019 Forbes article. While some university administrators point to a pipeline problem, a significant amount of doctorate graduates of color exist in the United States.
- Davis and Fry 2019: A 2019 article from Pew Research Center points out that over the past two decades, while college faculty have become more racially and ethnically diverse, they are still less likely to be racial or ethnic minorities than their students.
- Murphy 2019 and Tulshyan 2019: As mentioned in a 2019 Enago article, racial and gender disparities are further evident in the lack of recognition for publication contributions and work done by female scholars. The most glaring underrepresentation of people of color and women experts in their fields, noted in the Harvard Business Review (2019), is found at conferences and high profile gatherings that primarily consist of all-male or all-white panels.
- Koedel 2017: If a university seeks to improve the outcomes and earning potentials for disadvantaged-minority and female students, Brookings researchers, Koedel and Li (2017) advise them to independently consider and prioritize adding diverse faculty to STEM fields. Increased investment and focus on the most underrepresented groups in academia is crucial, since predominantly white institutions’ stated diversity goals often never fully materialize
- The Economist 2015 : the article observes a severe imbalance in faculty diversity appearing between STEM and non-STEM fields, possibly caused by systemic beliefs that African American and female professors lack the innate talent required for success in their academic careers.
- Wingfield 2015: Taking historically black colleges and universities’ diverse faculties as an example, a 2015 article from The Atlantic stresses that historically white universities do not have a proportional representation of “qualified” candidates of color since they refrain from seeking them out, and dismiss the lack of diversity as a pipeline issue.
- Truong 2010: research on doctoral students of color finds that their confrontations with racism and racial trauma during their studies lead to a desire to pursue their careers outside of higher education. The study adds that students of color deterred from entering academia experience a lack of inclusion, needing additional encouragement and mentorship relationships. The role model effect, when students advance their personal and professional lives by witnessing attainable success from relatable role models, is one of the primary risks. At the same time, study also recognizes that faculty of color often experience tokenism due to their lack of proportional representation to students of color.
Institutional Support and Environment
- Alcalde and Subramaniam 2020: A 2020 article in Inside Higher Ed argues that women of color in academia are consistently questioned about their competency based on how others perceive their identities, and the women who are in administrative leadership positions face isolation and increased visibility for scrutiny, which ultimately impacts how they are evaluated.
- Jones and Williams 2020: A 2020 Hechinger Report article by Jones and Williams highlights that Black academics face a particular set of obstacles, in which they have been persistently excluded and alienated at all levels, across all genders. Jones and Williams stress that institutional change needs to go far beyond solidarity statements and diversity declarations, after finding in their research that Black women leaders, who struggle to navigate their dual oppression, experienced unprecedented self-doubt, a lack of confidence in their abilities, and challenges related to dealing with imposter syndrome and stereotype threat in campus interactions.
- Flaherty 2019 : in Inside Higher Ed explains one pressing issue that plagues faculty of color: invisible labor. Invisible labor in academia refers to the often unrecognized and undervalued service and administrative work that minority and women faculty willingly engage in to serve various task forces and committees, and as a role model and mentor to students who need extra support to navigate college.
- Jimenez and al. 2019 and June 2015: A study in Nature: Ecology and Evolution adds that faculty with underrepresented identities disproportionally contribute more than their white male colleagues to diversity and inclusion efforts. This cultural taxation, described in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the pressure for minority and women faculty to bear these responsibilities, becomes exacerbated by college student populations diversifying faster than faculty members.
- Langin 2019: An interview in Science with Stephen Thomas describes how young scholars from underrepresented groups struggle with a sense of belonging in their academic institutions, needing strong mentors that advocate on their behalf, but instead facing gatekeepers who limit their potential and career progression.
- Bartel 2018 : Assumptions of female academic leaders, such as the stereotype for women to exist as caretakers, can undermine their authority and subject them to institutional pressure that goes unrewarded, as further detailed in a 2018 BizEd article.
- Flaherty 2018 and Flaherty 2017: interprets studies that show women faculty especially outperform male faculty in this type of internal service, which can impact their productivity in other areas of work such as research and teaching. Later, Flaherty in 2018 concludes that female instructors are also held to a different standard by students, and perceived harshly when they do not meet their gendered expectations or grant special favor requests.
- June 2018: A report by Columbia University outlined in The Chronicle of Higher Education (2018) recommends universities to create systems that reward and recognize invisible labor, since these faculty members feel increasingly overburdened or tokenized by heavy service loads that benefit institutional demands for ethnic representation.
- Mercado-Lopez 2018 : she points out the irony that faculty of color are by and large leading the efforts intended to retain them, so the support they receive is dependent on themselves as a whole. Thus, she calls universities to recognize, endorse, and invest in their faculty of color through direct and targeted efforts to level and democratize the educational playing field.
- Matthew 2016 : an article in The Atlantic confirms findings from diversity researchers, that as colleges and universities attempt to meet student demands for more inclusive campuses, within them exists structural hostility toward meaningful diversity, such as a lack of inclusivity and support system for faculty of color once they arrive.
- McGee 2015 : HigherEdJobs article and study by McGee adds that Black professors have been expected and advised regularly to be “more entertaining” when making research presentations, and encounter multiple layers of racial stereotyping and bias when evaluated on their presentations. In McGee’s interviews with Black faculty, they note that micro-aggressive comments have caused them the most anguish, especially when feeling objectified for entertainment value in their workplace.
Hiring, Evaluation, Promotion, and Retention
- Newman 2020 and Wingfield 2020: describe their approaches to improving diversity in their respective university faculties. Wingfield’s WashU new sociology department was created with intentional and consistent commitments to racial diversity and excellence, with nearly half of their full-time faculty identifying as people of color, and three women and three Black senior faculty. Those who helped launch this sociology department found that valuing diversity and hiring the best for the job were complementary goals. Wingfield notes that her colleagues’ early collective and shared prioritization of building a racially diverse faculty was crucial to setting the tone for her department and creating a precedent on future hiring cycles. While searching for assistant professors, the hiring committee relied on professional associations that primarily included sociologists of color, instead of on their alma maters or other networks that were more likely to have predominantly white candidates. They also ensured that while narrowing their list, they still maintained a diverse slate of candidates.
- Flaherty 2019 and Flaherty 2017: Data sourced from RateMyProfessors shows that men are more likely to be evaluated on their intelligence, while women are more likely to be evaluated on personality traits. Flaherty in another 2019 Inside Higher Ed article discusses two studies on teaching evaluations. The first suggests that making students aware of their potential biases before completing evaluations creates a small but significant, positive effect for female faculty members. The second finds that students perceive teaching effectiveness to decline in tenured professors compared to non-tenured professors.
- Houser 2019: affirms that women are generally funneled into lower-paying non-tenure-track positions, and face a significant pay gap compared to men. Houser notes the difficulty women face moving up academia: while over half of all PhDs are being awarded to women, the percentage of female tenured faculty hovers between 20-33% in the European Union and United States.
- McMurtrie 2019: explains how student evaluations of teaching can be flawed, overly critical on women and minority faculty. McMurtrie discusses the findings of an interactive tool by Ben Schmidt of NYU, Gendered Language in Teacher Reviews, which illustrates how students evaluate men and women using different criteria.
- Wang and Widener 2019: state that a disproportionate number of female chemistry graduate students choose a nonacademic career, with few going on to complete a postdoc.
- Lai 2017 : an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer explains that low turnover due to tenure practices in college and university faculties hamper efforts to diversity faculty, with student enrollment diversity growing at a faster rate than that of faculty.
- Flaherty 2016: he considers how universities are diversifying their faculties. In the last 20 years, researchers have noticed a redistribution of faculty jobs, in which gains for underrepresented minorities and women have mostly been in non-tenure-track positions.
- Gasman 2016: in The Hechinger Report, Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education in the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania, associates the lack of faculty of color at many elite institutions to their unwillingness to diversify faculty. Gasman observes that faculty hiring committees are not trained in recruitment, rarely diverse in makeup, and generally more interested in hiring those who reflect their identities rather than expanding the diversity of their departments.
- Asare 2020 : in a Forbes article discusses how America’s diversity fatigue has led to diversity resistance: a refusal to fund DEI efforts, pushback of diversity programs, and lack of leadership support for DEI initiatives. Asare observes that diversity efforts often fail, can seem inauthentic, and thus, require deep self-examination to better understand individual and organizational blind spots.
- Zackal 2020 : HigherEdJobs article explains a similar phenomenon in higher education: “compassion fatigue,” a type of chronic stress caused by exposure to other people’s trauma. Since higher education professionals are challenged to respond to the needs of their students with excessive empathy, they can experience burnout, rendering them less resilient, unable to cope with stress, and desensitized to trauma. Dealing extensively with other human beings, especially when they are troubled or having problems, can impair professors’ work and cause them to view their jobs as more transactional.
- Newkirk 2019 : in a The Chronicle of Higher Education article considers how anti-bias training, which drives most diversity efforts, has failed. The article also argues that few university presidents appear willing to go beyond symbolic gestures, and that campus unrest around race continues since diversity efforts that began in the ‘60s remain unfinished, as progress in most elite American universities has been negligible.
- Hazelrigg 2019: the Inside Higher Ed article confirms through a study that colleges have made little progress on faculty diversity, particularly at research-intensive universities and doctoral-status institutions. The study stresses that colleges should be more empirical and data driven on their diversity efforts after finding that brand-name institutions have had some of the worst progress.
- Bohanon 2018 : “Diversity fatigue,” according to Bohanon’s 2018 article in INSIGHT Into Diversity, refers to the acknowledgement that some forms of diversity training and messaging can negatively impact workplace inclusion, especially harming underrepresented job candidates and employees. Research noted in the article indicates that diversity training fails when it is mandatory, since participants are resistant to the idea of being controlled or told what to do and think, and even rebel and hire and promote fewer women and minorities as a result. Sociologists recommend to reframe diversity training from being focused on legal costs of workplace diversity, to the benefits of inclusion: being welcoming to different cultures and achieving a workforce that is more representative of a customer base and society as a whole. In a 2016 study, it is found that voluntary diversity training has a statistically significant positive effect for some historically underrepresented groups.
- Lam 2018: in her 2018 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education Lam reports seeing commitments to diversity ebb and flow over the decades due to diversity fatigue, not a lack of conviction. She explains that diversity fatigue arises when working with those who see diversity efforts as merely politically correct and philanthropic. Further, Lam reminds universities to focus on underrepresented faculty retention, and that meaningful diversity work cannot be seen as supplemental or remedial, or promoted reactively to times of crisis, but instead an ongoing and commonplace effort.
- MLA Action Network 2018 : the article discusses Columbia University and Yale University’s equity studies. Columbia’s 2018 study asserts that diversity is essential to scientific excellence, and diverse teams with cognitive diversity allows them to outperform homogenous teams. Overall, the study aims to understand why colleges are still struggling to meet their diversity goals, and why it is more difficult for female and minority faculty members to climb the ladder of academic success. Yale’s 2016 study also observes how diversity initiatives have failed to meet their stated goals. The article concludes by recommending universities to follow Columbia and Yale’s lead in diversifying their faculties and ensuring equitable and safe working environments, since diversity promotes innovation, and benefits everyone, most importantly, the students.
- Hsu 2017 : a New Yorker article explains that diversity fatigue occurs since recruiting and nurturing minority talent is often exhausting work, with demands for diversity feeling insurgent and threatening to those in power. The author also notes that the casualties of diversity fatigue are those who are not entitled enough to complain about their mental and physical exhaustion.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Next Steps
- Bichsel and McChesney 2020 : a 2020 report from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, when looking at the status of tenured faculty in American higher education, encourages institutions to not just hire diverse faculty, as younger faculty cohorts include more women and ethno-racial minorities, but also prioritize retaining and promoting women and minorities to maintain their representation in more senior ranks. The authors stress that retention and promotion efforts must consider the development, coaching, and championing of women and minorities after they are added to faculties.
- Dowell and Jackson 2020, in the Harvard Business Review article after seeing the costs of appropriating the language of social activism into marketing materials and empty solidarity statements, put together a playbook for organizations to foster anti-racism at the organizational, leadership, and individual level. Highlights of this guide include prioritizing organizational accountability through a data-driven action plan, maintaining accountability in leadership, and fostering an encouraging and psychologically safe system for individual accountability.
- Young 2020 : an EVERFI article highlights the benefits of a diverse faculty, namely to students. Young references and discusses the most frequently cited advantages: student engagement and retention, improved classroom discussions, and better preparation for the shifting work landscape. To achieve these, Young advises hiring committees to post open positions in more places that can draw from a broader slate of candidates and blindly screen through resumes (without names, genders, and other identifying information), and work with outside consultants to evaluate current institutional policies that could be unintentionally discriminatory.
- Buenestado-Fernández et al. 2019: a PLOS ONE research article observes that the institutionalization process of diversity outreach is at the early stages in universities, so they recommend universities to continue moving forward with their plans and ensure that their solution mixes inclusion with excellence.
- Paige 2018 : in a 2018 Inside Higher Ed article, she outlines what faculty members who are not members of underrepresented groups can do to become more engaged in diversity and inclusion efforts. She recommends these faculty members to improve campus climate by diversifying their professional networks, viewing diversity as an asset to their university, connecting more with and attending events hosted by students from underrepresented groups to lessen the burden on underrepresented faculty, and most importantly, treating diversity and inclusion efforts with the same urgency that they would treat other institutional issues.
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