Faculty Diversity in Higher Education

One prevalent issue within higher education is the rate in which faculty are hired and retained within the academy. Predominately white institutions (PWI’s) especially have lower percentages of faculty from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. In addition, the rate in which all genders outside of males is disproportion to the rate in which male faculty members are hired. Higher education was founded for wealthy white males to gain access to education to ensure their own upward mobility and retaining their wealth. However, as higher education aims to address its own oppressive structures, the access to higher education must be addressed.

The article that I chose to discuss for this blog post was an article shared on Inside Higher Education. The article focused on  federal data on the rate of diversity within tenure track faculty within varying institutions. What their data analysis uncovered was that research and doctoral status institutions were especially lacking in racial and gender diversity within the hiring of faculty members. The number of Black and Hispanic faculty only accounted for less than 6%. This is with Black faculty representation only increasing by 0.1% and Hispanic faculty increasing by only 0.65%. These rates were marginally larger at master status institutions, but again the rate in which tenure track faculty is not increasing. In addition, the rate in which women from the years 2013-2017  increased by only 1.7%. The majority of tenure track faculty hires are held by white males.

This article is critical for the conversation of faculty within higher education. The federal data was calculated during the years 2013-2017, a time in higher education where conscious efforts were made to make critical examinations into hiring practices. It comes back into a theme of higher education that I have seen where institutions state they value one thing, but the data shows otherwise. In this case, institutions claimed that their espoused values were having diversity within teaching faculty, though the theories in use within the academy were the exact opposite. Values are not concrete unless they are actually manifesting what they are saying that they value. In addition to hiring faculty, the retention of faculty remains to be critical part of addressing the structural issues in higher education. Faculty can be recruited and hired to an institutions that still oppress the people they are hiring. Thus, the rate in which faculty are retained is going to be significantly lower. These data points only further illustrate the lack of diversity and equity within higher education. Without intentional and critical changes made to hiring practices, campus climates, and overall structures within higher education, these studies on diversity within higher education will continue to reveal the same trend in education.

References:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/07/02/little-progress-diversifying-faculty-ranks-study-finds-particularly-research

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