An Ivy League professor on why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color: ‘We don’t want them’ - The Washington Post:
Gasman is a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania
I was asked a question pertaining to the lack of faculty of color at many majority institutions, especially more elite institutions.
My response was frank: “The reason we don’t have more faculty of color among college faculty is that we don’t want them. We simply don’t want them.” Those in the audience were surprised by my candor and gave me a round of applause for the honesty.
I have learned a lot about faculty recruitment over 16 years and as a result of visiting many colleges and universities.
First, the word ‘quality’ is used to dismiss people of color who are otherwise competitive for faculty positions. Even those people on search committees that appear to be dedicated to access and equity will point to ‘quality’ or lack of ‘quality’ as a reason for not hiring a person of color.
Typically, ‘quality’ means that the person didn’t go to an elite institution for their Ph.D. or wasn’t mentored by a prominent person in the field. What people forget is that attending the elite institutions and being mentored by prominent people is linked to social capital and systemic racism ensures that people of color have less of it.
Second, the most common excuse I hear is ‘there aren’t enough people of color in the faculty pipeline.’
It is accurate that there are fewer people of color in some disciplines such as engineering or physics. However, there are great numbers of Ph.D.’s of color in the humanities and education and we still don’t have great diversity on these faculties.
Third, I have learned that faculty will bend rules, knock down walls, and build bridges to hire those they really want (often white colleagues) but when it comes to hiring faculty of color, they have to ‘play by the rules’ and get angry when any exceptions are made.
Let me tell you a secret – exceptions are made for white people constantly in the academy; exceptions are the rule in academe.
Fourth, faculty search committees are part of the problem.
They are not trained in recruitment, are rarely diverse in makeup, and are often more interested in hiring people just like them rather than expanding the diversity of their department.
And, even when they do receive a diverse group of applicants, often those applicants ‘aren’t the right fit’ for the institution. What is the ‘right fit’? Someone just like you?
Fifth, if majority colleges and universities are truly serious about increasing faculty diversity, why don’t they visit Minority Serving Institutions — institutions with great student and faculty diversity — and ask them how they recruit a diverse faculty.
This isn’t hard. The answers are right in front of us. We need the will.
How often do you resist when someone asks you to bend the rules for faculty of color hires but think it’s absolutely necessary when considering a white candidate (you know, so you don’t lose such a wonderful candidate)?
Rather than getting angry at me for pointing out a problem that most of us are aware of, why don’t you change your ways and do something to diversify your department or institution’s faculty?
I bet you don’t, but I sure hope you do.
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tags: core, discrimination - school, discrimination - work, [quote]