Issues in higher education have been at the center of academic discussions, focusing on the lack of diversity. In the US, the major diversity problem is the white male domination of faculty in higher education. Two discussed approaches that can be used to manage diversity in higher learning institutions are the HEAD (Higher education awareness for diversity) wheel approach and the Taylor Cox Three Stages Model. The HEAD wheel approach outlines a comprehensive overview of important diversity segments that should be considered at the tertiary level in diversity management. The Taylor Cox Three Stages approach focuses on the importance of considering the types of an organization during diversity management. The proposed solution that can help address the diversity problem in higher learning institutions in the US is reconsidering their historical and current practices and policies, as these may be significant barriers to diversity goals. It will help universities and colleges attract minorities in their faculties.
Keywords: Diversity, faculty, minorities, education
Academia so White Male: Increasing Diversity among Faculty in Higher Education
Issues in higher education have been at the center of academic discussions, focusing on the lack of diversity (Yusof et al., 2018). Diversity in higher education extends beyond faculty, staff, and students, as it includes how teaching happens in higher learning institutions and the programs offered in these institutions. Therefore, diversity focuses on a broad scope of issues. The paper examines the problem of diversity among faculty in higher education, focusing on why academic is so white male. It identifies the problem, identifies strategies, proposes solutions, and evaluates them.
The US’s best colleges and universities have been facing a backlash regarding their commitment to diversity in recent years. Concerns have been raised about the racial makeup of professors and instructors in most of these higher learning institutions, with them being dominated by white males (Posselt et al., 2020). The issue of tenure has also helped to expound the diversity problem in these institutions, as many high-profile black academics have been denied tenure despite qualifying for it. The same is always not the case with their white counterparts, awarded tenure at significantly higher rates.
The faculty constitution for most colleges and universities in the US has sparked a debate about privilege and racism in academia. Data on faculty composition for these higher learning institutions reveal that despite the significant change in student demographics to have more students of color, the same has not been witnessed in faculty, as they are dominated by white males (Posselt et al., 2020). Notably, not all faculty members are white males, as numerous higher learning institutions have hired the BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) community. In most cases, the individual efforts of these individuals have helped them to be hired. The hiring of such individuals involves rigorous processes, which are not common for their white counterparts. Despite hiring BAME community members into various colleges and universities’ faculty, they remain underrepresented (Posselt et al., 2020). According to Posselt et al. (2020), many people believe that racism and privilege are still prevalent in the US, as depicted by data on the representation of the BAME community in faculty. Moreover, the issue of tenure demonstrates that privilege exists in the US, as whites are more likely to be awarded tenure than their black counterparts, some of whom are more qualified and experienced.
Diversity in college professors and faculty is uncommon, as depicted by the representation of women and the BAME community (Posselt et al., 2020). Despite an increase in the number of women in faculty in most colleges and universities across the US, it is disproportional to that of males. The high number of males in academia has been argued to be enabled by gender inequalities, which prevent women from dominating academia in the US. It has been a challenge for academics in the US to figure out how to address gender inequities and systemic sexism in faculty life (Posselt et al., 2020). The intertwining of sexism with marginalized identities in the form of race makes it more challenging for academics in higher educational institutions to address the inequities. It explains why faculties in most universities and colleges have only a few women, and if there is a significant population of women, most of them are white. Therefore, the representation of women and people of color in American colleges and universities presents a problem in the academic world that needs to be addressed.
Lack of diversity in American colleges and universities is a significant problem because it hinders qualified and experienced individuals from the BAME community from achieving maximum impact. The underrepresentation of women in these faculties is also an essential concern because it demonstrates the lack of social equality and equal access to facilities (Posselt et al., 2020). While a significant population of women is qualified to be part of faculties for these institutions, systemic sexism and gender inequities have made it challenging for them to have a fair representation. Therefore, urgent solutions are needed to address the lack of diversity in academia in the US, as a significant faculty population comprises white males.
Various approaches exist that can be utilized to solve the diversity problem in US academia to improve the representation of women and the BAME community. For instance, the HEAD (Higher education awareness for diversity) wheel approach can manage diversity at the tertiary level. The approach outlines a comprehensive overview of important diversity segments that should be considered at the tertiary level in managing diversity (Gaisch, Preymann, & Aichinger, 2018). The approach is all-inclusive because it considers the existence of multiple differences and similarities between people. It explains how these similarities and differences can intersect and alter the meaning of diversity.
Utilizing this approach involves reinforcing the perspective that people who study and work in higher learning institutions draw in various disciplinary, cognitive, demographic, institutional, and functional backgrounds that flow into each other due to the lack of defined borders. Therefore, applying the approach in the management of diversity involves the consideration of the five HEAD wheel segments, which include disciplinary diversity, cognitive diversity, demographic diversity, institutional diversity, and functional diversity (Gaisch, Preymann, & Aichinger, 2018). Importantly, one should approach these segments through different doors, which is explained by having different rationales and varying purposes. Applying the approach to address the diversity issue in US academia will involve the consideration of an intersection of factors and how they make it challenging to attain diversity. These factors can include systemic sexism, gender bias, and educational qualifications. Notably, the application of the approach requires the consideration of the important role that various factors play in determining diversity in higher education institutions.
Another approach that can be relied upon to help diversity management in the US academia is the Taylor Cox Three Stages Model. The approach focuses on the importance of considering the types of organizations during diversity management. According to the approach, organizations can be monolithic, plural, and multicultural (Gaisch, Preymann, & Aichinger, 2018). Monolithic organizations are characterized by white male dominance, with minorities having only a few positions linked to subordination. Another type of organization is the plural type, which comprises a more heterogeneous group. Such an organization includes many people who do not belong to the majority group. Another type of organization is the multicultural organization, which involves a balance between majority and minority members at all levels of the organization. There is no prejudice and discrimination for such an organization as both majority and minority members are evenly distributed. According to the approach, organizations focused on diversity management should ensure that they integrate minority people to reduce the chances of prejudice and discrimination (Gaisch, Preymann, & Aichinger, 2018). In this case, the approach can be utilized to ensure a balance between gender and race for faculty members.
Minorities should be well represented in faculties, reducing chances of discrimination and prejudice. However, the increased representation of these minorities in faculties will not be achieved without the involvement of higher education leaders. According to the equity and justice framework in higher education, leaders need to practice mindfulness and embrace formal equity and bias checks during all stages of the decision-making process (Kezar & Posselt, 2020). Particularly, these should be focused on recruitment efforts so that minorities are considered. The use of the framework is necessary for managing diversity in higher learning institutions because it allows leaders to rely on proven strategies to hire faculty who meet the existing diversity threshold.
Ideal solutions to address diversity issues in US colleges and universities require the top leadership of these higher learning institutions. These leaders determine the type of people that can be hired, which means that they can change the face of America’s academia. They should be motivated to address the problem to avoid disruption by ensuring that the higher learning institutions are diverse.
An important solution that can help address the diversity problem in higher learning institutions in the US is reconsidering their historical and current practices and policies. These may be significant barriers to diversity goals (Posselt et al., 2020). Focus can be placed on these institutions hiring policies and practices. A reconsideration of these policies and practices will involve reevaluating them to determine whether they meet diversity goals. For instance, it is necessary to check if an institution’s hiring policy requires attaining diversity goals. If this is not the case, it is important to ensure that the policy abides by diversity by encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to apply for faculty positions. Such a solution is sensitive to the problem’s ethical dimension concerning equality. It will ensure that all individuals, regardless of background, get a chance to be hired in faculty positions.
Moreover, no exceptions will exist in the policies that will likely exclude other individuals based on race or gender. Also, the solution is logical to the problem because it is highly achievable. Learning institutions regularly reform their policies and practices (European University Association, 2018), which means that reforming historical and current policies and practices is attainable. The solution is sensitive to the problem’s cultural dimension because it does not focus on altering the significant cultural beliefs of the populations involved. Specifically, it aims to ensure that the involved parties understand their differences better through harmonious working in the faculty.
Moreover, these institutions should have hiring policies that require a balanced, diverse workforce (Yusof et al., 2018). For instance, the policy can state that the faculty must have equal representations regarding gender, race, and culture. With such a policy, it will be less challenging to attain diversity in faculty. It is essential to understand the role that institutional leadership plays in managing diversity. Therefore, institutional leaders should be supportive of such efforts aimed at increasing diversity. Without their support, it will be challenging to attain diversity in faculty (Yusof et al., 2018). These leaders make key decisions regarding the operations of these higher learning institutions. Their influence can be key in the formulation of diversity-focused policies during faculty hiring.
Through the help of their leadership, higher learning institutions in the US can ensure that they incorporate diversity policies in the hiring and retention of faculty. It can be achieved by ensuring that faculty members are mentored to work in academic environments committed to diversity and inclusion. These faculty members will have to undergo diversity training, which allows them to understand the importance of diversity in the workplace (Kezar & Posselt, 2020). With such training, faculty members will be more accommodative of diverse counterparts, likely attracting these individuals to the institutions. Importantly, people who have undergone diversity training prefer working with others from different backgrounds, making it easier for higher learning institutions to implement hiring policies to promote diversity.
Also, higher learning institutions can promote diversity by encouraging diversity-related studies among their faculty (Posselt et al., 2020). Through fellowships to faculty members whose studies and projects focus on diversity issues, it can do this. Supporting such initiatives can be key in attracting diverse faculty members. For instance, a college can avail funds to researchers that examine diversity-related issues to encourage a better understanding of diversity among its faculty. Therefore, an evaluation of historical and current practices and policies can be key in addressing diversity issues, as the leadership of learning institutions will reform those that act as barriers to the achievement of diversity. Notably, the leadership of these learning institutions plays a significant role in managing diversity, as they can implement policies aimed at encouraging diversity.
Evaluate Potential Solutions
Evaluating the solution identified above is vital in understanding their feasibility and impacts. It has been suggested that addressing the white male dominance in academia in the US should involve reconsidering higher learning institutions’ historical and current practices and policies, as these may be significant barriers to diversity goals. Universities that reform their hiring policies to include diversity goals are highly likely to attract various minorities for their faculty positions (Yusof et al., 2018). Practically, it is difficult for minority scholars to apply for faculty positions in universities with a well-known preference for white males. However, their decision to apply for the faculty positions can be changed when they learn that a particular college has reformed its hiring policies to include minorities in half of the vacant positions. Therefore, the solution is feasible and practical because many educators from minority populations will be attracted to vacant faculty positions because of the high chances of being hired, unlike before.
Also, the reformation of hiring policies to incorporate diversity policies will likely help address high turnover rates among underrepresented faculty members. The change of a college’s hiring policy will lead to changing its work environment, as the number of minorities and women will increase in its faculty (Yusof et al., 2018). Increased representation of minority people in faculties will likely be linked to comfortable working environments, as these people will feel that their contributions are valued. However, this is not the case with less representation, as the majority makes most decisions. Some of these decisions may be associated with negative impacts on minorities. Therefore, an evaluation of higher learning institutions’ hiring policies is vital in addressing the diversity problem that the US academia is facing because it will allow for the incorporation of diversity policies associated with high turnover rates among underrepresented populations in faculty.
In conclusion, the problem of diversity among faculty in higher education, specifically, white male dominance in academia, can be addressed by reforming historical and current policies, which may act as significant barriers to diversity goals. Concerns have been raised about the racial makeup of professors and instructors in most of these higher learning institutions, being dominated by white males. Therefore, reconsidering these institutions’ historical and current policies, particularly hiring policies and practices, is key in addressing the diversity challenge. For instance, policy change can ensure equal representations regarding gender, race, and culture during the hiring of faculty members. It will be easy to address the diversity problem through an increased representation of minorities and women.
European University Association. (2018). Universities’ strategies and approaches towards diversity, equity and inclusion: Examples from across Europe. European University Association. https://eua.eu/downloads/publications/universities-39-strategies-and-approaches-towards-diversity-equity-and-inclusion.pdf
Gaisch, M., Preymann, S., & Aichinger, R. (2018). Diversity management at the tertiary level: An attempt to extend existing paradigms. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 12(2), 137-150. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-03-2018-0048
Kezar, A., & Posselt, J. (2020). Higher education administration for social justice and equity: Critical perspectives for leadership. Routledge.
Posselt, J., Hernandez, T., Villarreal, D., Rodgers, A., & Irwin, L. (2020). Evaluation and decision making in higher education: Toward equitable repertoires of faculty practice. In Laura W. Perna (Eds.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research: Volume 35, 1-63. Springer.
Yusof, N., Hashim, R., Valdez, N., & Yaacob, A. (2018). Managing diversity in higher education: A strategic communication approach. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 28(1), 41-60. https://doi.org/10.1075/japc.00003.yus