Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Hide and Seek: Diversity in the Ivy League

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Hide and Seek: Diversity in the Ivy League

Article excerpt

The New York Times recently published an article titled "Little Advance Is Seen in Ivies' Hiring of Minorities and Women." The article leaves the reader with two distinct impressions: First, the pool of qualified minority scholars is just too small. And second, domestic issues make these high-powered jobs unattractive to female scholars. There is no doubt that the pool of minority doctoral recipients is small indeed. And the work versus family debate is a real issue for tenure-track faculty, both male and female. Yet, the article fails to address some of the most pressing reasons why, for instance, African Americans make up only 3 percent of the tenured and tenure-track faculty at Ivy League institutions.

The Ivy League represents one of the remaining bastions of elite privilege. Who you know is as important as what you know. The article fails to address the influence of personal networking regarding the hiring of Ivy League faculty, as protegees of famous scholars receive many of those coveted tenure-track jobs. At these schools, "getting your foot in the door" too often means being on a first-name basis with the "doorkeeper." This particularly works to the detriment of minority female scholars, as most senior positions are still occupied by White men.

These schools must not recognize that their own practices discourage women and minorities from pursuing the few tenure-track positions available. If it is clear from the institutions' own statistics that the majority of junior faculty are not tenured at the end of their probationary period, what is the incentive to take a job where the odds are already stacked against you? Why give six or seven years of your academic career to a school that prides itself on how few junior scholars it actually tenures? …

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