Irene López, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Simon Garcia, PhD, (email@example.com), Kenyon College
When reviewing a colleague, have you ever heard any of the following?
- I’m not sure about them, I mean have you seen their teaching evaluations? Those evaluations are lower than for other people who teach this course.
- I’m not sure about their research. I mean, have you ever heard of this journal before?
- They just need to learn to say “no” to this type of work, it’s just taking up too much of their time.
Never? Then consider yourself lucky.
Often? Then make a plan for how to respond.
Why? Because despite decades of research, faculty of color are repeatedly and systematically overly and unfairly scrutinized (Settles, Buchanan & Dotson 2018), across all the three areas of evaluation (Turner, González & Wood, 2011).
Teaching. A compelling body of research notes that across a variety of methodological studies, student teaching evaluations are sexist and racist – not to mention transphobic and homophobic – resulting in lower teaching evaluations for minoritized faculty than their White majority peers (Kreitzer & Sweet-Cushman, 2022). For example, even when teaching the same content, faculty of color typically receive lower teaching evaluations than their White colleagues (Chávez & Mitchell, 2020), with White males receiving the highest evaluations and female faculty of color being particularly penalized when they do not conform to gendered and racialized stereotypes (Anderson, 2010). Hence, when evaluating a minoritized scholar, committees should be aware that student evaluations are not always a measure of professorial competence, or of student learning, but rather measures of biased perception, and that students (both White and minoritized) do evaluate faculty of color differently than White professors – either by typically giving them lower teaching evaluations (Kreitzer & Sweet-Cushman, 2022) or by overly scrutinizing the intellectual competence of faculty of color relative to their White instructors (Ho, Thomsen, & Sidanius, 2009). Committees should also be aware that lower evaluations may especially occur during situations when professors teach courses that are emotionally fraught, such as those that address discrimination and racial biases (Brown et al., 2023; Delgado Bernal & Villalpando, 2002).
Research. If you are a traditionally trained White scholar, you probably have NOT heard of many specific ethnic journals. Why? because you are less likely to have needed, or wanted, to publish in them. Compared to White peers, faculty of color are less likely to get their work accepted in mainstream journals (Buchanan et., 2021), less likely to get cited, less likely to obtain grants, and — when they do obtain grants — less likely to win as many funds (Buchanan et al., 2021; Flórez, & Mendoza-Grey, 2022). As a result, faculty of color are more likely to publish in ethnic or speciality journals because these journals are more interested in their work and can showcase their work to a more relevant audience (Delgado et al. 2002). However, because mainstream academia may consider these journals to be “lower tier” , faculty of color subsequently are essentially punished for these types of publications (e.g. What is this journal? Have you heard of it?). Typical review standards that superficially appear to be neutral, meritocratic, and objective do nothing to mitigate this epistemic exclusion in which the validity of a scholar’s research agenda is questioned, misunderstood, under funded, and insufficiently recognized (Delgado Bernal & Villalpando, 2002; Settles et al., 2021; Turner, González & Wood, 2011). Such barriers may help explain why minoritized scholars often think of leaving academia (Settles et al., 2022)
Service. It is no secret that faculty of color also face greater demands on their time than their White peers (University of Oregon Social Science Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017; Wood, Hilton, & Nevarez, 2015), with women of color facing the highest requests for their time compared to other faculty (Domingo et al., 2020; Tree & Vaid, 2022). These requests may come in various forms, such as explicit requests to become more involved in campus governance, help diversity-related committees, help diversify other campus committees, to more implicit demands to engage in “invisible labor”, such as administrative work, recruitment activities, or other non-promotable work (Babcock et al., 2022; Gordon, Willink, & Hunter, 2022). Such service is so routinely de-valued and unrewarded and there is a zero sum relationship between time spent on service and other metrics of academic success, such as research productivity (Hanasono et al., 2019).
Knowing these professional costs, some well-meaning mentors and colleagues may urge faculty of color simply to “say no” to undervalued service but this disregards the reality of the situation — as saying no is not always honored or within one’s discretionary power and can come with real consequences for faculty of color (Gordon, Willink, & Hunter, 2022; Hanasono et al., 2019). A better question to ask then is: why do others keep asking them? Second, this advice dismisses their wisdom in discerning institutional needs that others don’t perceive. When presented with the portfolio of someone who has done extensive service for our institutions, we might ask: why don’t we reward them for their service? In either case, we believe it is time to re-evaluate our stance toward service because while faculty of color do the most service it is the activity that is the least rewarded although arguably has the greatest impact on our students and institutions.
In the face of such difficulties, we as faculty of color, we created a website, with the support of the Consortium on High Achievement and Success, which showcases over a hundred articles, books, and popular press articles which document how minoritized scholars are systemically under/devalued, undersupported, overworked and held to higher standards (Matthews, 2016) – across all three levels of evaluation (teaching, research and service). Our website, www.facultyofcolornetwork.com, is a central source that others can turn to for the latest literature and for ideas on what can be done to rectify our review system.
We hope this resource can support different audiences in different ways. For faculty of color: we hope this site will convince you that no, it is not all in your head! A few minutes on this site will show that difficulties faced by underrepresented scholars are real and extensively documented and studied. You might even feel vindicated by research showing the many benefits that faculty of color provide their students, departments, and institutions. As teachers, we work hard to employ equity-based pedagogies which move beyond tolerance and inclusion and instead work toward holistic learning and transformation (Antonio, 2022; Sulé, 2011). We infuse our courses with more socially relevant material than our White colleagues (Laird, 2011). Faculty of color play pivotal roles in the recruitment, retention, and success of minoritized students, who may often see us as role models and approach us for mentoring, advice and recommendations (Settles et al., 2018) – even when these students may not be in our classes (Matthew, 2016). For departments, having a diverse faculty body can contribute to more diverse students entering their discipline, while for institutions, hiring and supporting faculty of color can contribute to the diversification of the curriculum.
For White faculty, we hope this site can help you to become stronger allies (Boutte. & Jackson, 2014). You can learn how biases manifest in seemingly innocuous academic norms and understand how marginalized faculty experience academia. On a broader level, we hope this resource will enable colleges and consortiums to study and investigate the needs of their faculty of color and finally take evidence-based action to address these needs because without such institutional support, marginalized scholars will continue to be left alone to navigate the challenges posed by the academic landscape. Institutional support means re-evaluating the standards for success in our fields, understanding that it is not only students who may be biased but bias may exist in our peer evaluations and in our institutional policies (Pittman, 2012). If not, the retention of underrepresented faculty will continue to suffer at many predominantly White institutions specifically because of the insistence of “color-blind” diversity initiatives (Fox Tree, & Vaid 2022; Turner et al. 2011).
More specifically, we hope that the next time you are in a meeting, and you are evaluating a scholar or colleague of color, that you will know how to respond, or at least know where to refer to someone, if they utter any of the aforementioned comments or begin to question their accomplishments, competency, workload, or time management. Visiting our website is the first step to becoming more informed and to helping you speak up and voice your concerns backed by evidence based research. At this site, which is continuously updated, you can search for specific terms, review recommendations and solutions to help your institutions become more equitable and just.
As colleges and universities have increasingly embraced the value of diversity in their missions, and invested in resources and programming that led to increasing enrollment rates for students of color (Jacobson, 2012), we must now also pay attention, evaluate fairly, support, and reward our faculty of color (Benitez et al., 2017; Carlos, 2016). After thirty five years of research documenting bias against faculty of color – the time to stop this is now (Turner et al, 2011).
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[Cover Image: Denise Carbonell, “Support, Glow, and Teach” – Creative Commons]