Race Discrimination in Academia 'Has Not Improved' over Past 20 Years: News

By Gibney, Elizabeth | Times Higher Education, April 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Race Discrimination in Academia 'Has Not Improved' over Past 20 Years: News


Gibney, Elizabeth, Times Higher Education


Racism in UK academia remains as prevalent as it was 20 years ago, the author of a study looking at the experiences of black and minority ethnic academics has said.

Of 65 academics interviewed for the study, the overwhelming majority said they had experienced some kind of racism, either direct or indirect. Only two said gender had had more of an impact on their careers than race.

Some respondents said that they felt they had to work "doubly hard" compared with white colleagues - publishing more, submitting more grant applications and getting more international recognition - to be considered for promotion.

"If there are two people, one an ethnic minority, one a [white] English person vying for the same job, I believe they'll take the English person, unless the ethnic minority is doing much more, at a higher level," said one interviewee for the study.

Respondents also reported experiencing subtle racism, such as feeling that there was a lack of trust in their abilities or that white colleagues' body language excluded them from activities. Others said they felt hampered in putting themselves forward for senior positions.

"I don't think things have changed very much in the academy from 10 or 20 years ago," the report's author, Kalwant Bhopal, reader in education at the University of Southampton, told Times Higher Education. "I think the situation has changed in the sense that we have equality policies in place that are much stronger, but I still feel there exists an underlying subtext of racism."

Respondents had contrasting views on the impact of the research excellence framework on equality.

Although some welcomed its objective criteria as "neutralising ethnicity", others were sceptical that publications from journals across the world, or articles that focused on specific areas of the world, would be treated equally. …

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