Fewer minorities ascending to tenure-track, according to report

Daily Sundial

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Women and other minorities are finding it increasingly difficult to climb their way up the faculty ladder, according to a new report released by Yale University.

The report, “The (Un)Changing Face of the Ivy League,” found that in 2003, Ivy League campuses hired 433 new professors into tenure-track jobs, but only 14 were African American, eight were Hispanic, and 150 were women.

While the report focuses solely on Ivy League universities, similar trends apply to CSUN and other CSU campuses.

According to statistics gathered from the CSUN Factbook for the 2001-02 academic year, of the total 872 full-time faculty, only 348, or 39.9 percent, were women.

Statistics of non-Caucasian faculty members were similarly low. During the same academic year, 9.6 percent of full-time faculty were Latino, 9.1 percent were Asian American, 4.5 percent were African American and 1.5 percent were American Indian, Filipino or another race.

Seventy-three percent of full-time faculty members at CSUN were Caucasian.

“The student population is diverse, but not the faculty,” said Juana Mora, Chicano/a studies professor at CSUN.

During the Fall 2003 semester at CSUN, 38 percent of the student body was Caucasian, according to information available on the CSUN website. Latinos totaled 22 percent, and Asian Americans totaled 12 percent of the CSUN student population, making up the two highest minority groups. African Americans composed 5 percent of the student body.

But faculty and those vying for a tenure position within their departments sometimes find that the diversity they see in the classroom does not translate into diversity within the professional ranks.

Mora said hiring minorities for tenure positions has become a problem at CSUN.

“(Hiring minorities) has gotten even worse in the past years since we lost affirmative action,” Mora said. “There’s no legal recourse for people who feel like they’ve been discriminated against.”

Under former Gov. Pete Wilson, Proposition 209, a proposition to nix the affirmative action law, was passed by 54 percent of California voters in November 1996. The law said the state cannot discriminate against or give preferential treatment to people based on their race, sex or ethnicity.

“For people of color, there is oftentimes a lot of institutional racism,” said Glenn Omatsu, Asian American studies lecturer at CSUN.

Omatsu said that often, in departments with no minorities, a professor might have a hard time receiving tenure because the tenure process requires their work to be judged by a panel of peers, who may not fully understand and relate to their work from a minority perspective.

“A person of color may be judged as not qualified because the (non-minority) peers in the department may not understand their point of view,” Omatsu said.

Mora said affirmative action no longer comes into play in the decisions of educational establishments.

“It’s up to the universities to do the right thing,” said Mora. “And they sometimes don’t.”

But attaining tenure in her department was not the difficult task for Mora, she said. She had years of teaching experience and had published several articles, making the tenure process easier, Mora said.

It was the expectations that followed that were the most draining, she said.

“Once we’re in (and we have tenure), sometimes we’re the only minority in the department,” Mora said. “So we’re asked to go above and beyond. Students feel we’re not involved and active enough, and the institution says we’re not publishing enough. We get it from both sides.”