Academic journal article Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies

The Politics of Data: Gender Bias and Border Mentality in the EEOC Job Category Compliance Chart and How Transnational Gender Mainstreaming Can Offer Best Practices for Change

Academic journal article Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies

The Politics of Data: Gender Bias and Border Mentality in the EEOC Job Category Compliance Chart and How Transnational Gender Mainstreaming Can Offer Best Practices for Change

Article excerpt

Abstract: This essay examines how the EEOC Compliance Chart obscures and so perpetuates gender inequalities for today's institutions. The paper explores second and third wave feminist national and global organizing strategies to contemplate best practices for change. Using two models of women's activism the essay puts forward best practices for creating in universities the kind of transnational nonstate activism and advocacy that has created gender mainstreaming success around the world.

"It is precisely by exposing the illusion of the permanence or enduring truth of any particular knowledge of sexual difference that feminism necessarily historicizes history and politics and opens the way for change."

-Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (1999, 10)

"The borders and walls that are supposed to keep the undesirable ideas out are entrenched habits and patterns of behavior; these habits and patterns are the enemy within.

-Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, The New Mestiza (1987, 79)

Since The Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the federal passage of Title VII, all workplaces, including institutions of higher education, that have at least 50 workers and receive federal funding over $50,000 have been required regularly to tally and report their gender and race hiring practices to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Originally, no power of enforcement was given to the EEOC, but when Congress amended Title VII in 1972, among other things, it entitled the EEOC to receive and investigate individual discrimination complaints and, when finding probable cause, to mediate a settlement (Liberman, 2007). One result of the Title VII mandate is the requirement for workplaces to generate annually a Job Category Compliance Chart, which is one chart among many that condenses into one schema an institution's workforce composition. While University executives, Affirmative Action Officers, and others attend to the entire document, a look at an institution's Job Category Compliance Chart is one way to see and quickly assess an institution's annual hiring practices and trends.

The mandate to record and report gender and race profiles did have the desired effect of creating demographic changes in workplace composition. In the private workplace, EEOC data (Kalev & Dobbin, 2005) indicates that from 1971-2002, in private sector "management jobs in the average establishment," the percentage of white men went from 87% to 57%; white women went from 9.5% to 28%; black women went from .5% to almost 3%; and black men went from 1.5% to 3.7% (p. 24). Sharon R. Bird (2011) noted that "though the bulk of the gendered organization research focuses on work settings other than universities, most of these research findings are relevant also to universities as workplaces" (p. 204). The trends Kalev and Dobbin discovered in their 1971-2002 longitudinal study of 814 private workplaces, where they found greatest Title VII impact in the 1970s, then diminishing impact "after the 1980s, [when compliance reviews] had significant effects for only white women," and even less impact in the 1990s, when "compliance reviews... do not show effects" (p. 29), interestingly also speak to the trends in higher education. For instance, from 1996-2010, my home institution, the University of Rhode Island (URI), saw minority representation for total employees go from 8.9% to 11%. Taking into account only the total in ranks comparable to private management jobs (management, professionals, and faculty categories), white men went from 54% to 42%; white women went from 36% to 49%; black women went from .99% to 1.3%; black men went from 2.3% to 1.9%. Additional races, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan, and especially Asian/Pacific Islanders, added to these numbers. The dip in black male employees further reflects Kalev and Dobbin's summary of research that indicates that "employers virtually never met the goals they set" (p. …

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