ADVANCE Weekly Roundup: Realizing a Diverse Faculty

Several recent reports warn that despite promising announcements about increasing faculty diversity, the actual increase has been sluggish. As summarized by Inside Higher Ed writer Colleen Flaherty, realizing racial parity between the professoriate and the general U.S. population within the next thirty years requires a rate of change that is 3.5 times the current pace. One study, published in Nature Human Behavior, discusses the mythology of racial progress and admonishes blaming “pipeline” shortages and being over-reliant on individualistic solutions like cluster hiring. As one of the authors observed, “People often believe that while inequality was bad in the past, recent developments are solving the problem, even when that’s not empirically true. That’s why it’s important to build our understanding of the data and develop realistic, evidence-based plans for change.”

Another recent report by the Education Trust graded U.S. universities on the amount of change they had achieved over the past fifteen years with ratio parity of Black and Latino faculty to Black and Latino students. A surprising number of prestigious universities received an “F” grade on a number of dimensions. There is little to celebrate and more work to be done, including at Michigan Tech. See the grades for Michigan Tech here.

Further, COACHE (the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education) at Harvard found a wide gap in the perceptions of campus inclusion and equity among faculty of differing racial and ethnic backgrounds. Notably, under-represented faculty deemed most efforts to be performative rather than substantive changes in university structures and operations.

These sources indicate that a more collective, systemic, and longitudinal approach to faculty diversification can be effective.  Specific strategies include changing the higher education institution itself, addressing long-standing exclusionary practices and policies, and making investments in faculty work life and advancement opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *