Privilege and Diversity in the Academy

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The authors of this presentation will analyze the forty-year process by which American universities have diversified their previously all white and all male faculties by race and gender, focusing on changes and resistance at Rutgers University-Newark, Stanford University and the University of Michigan. To chart these transformations the authors employ an analytical schema that suggests that all three universities have gone through various phases of change. Early challenges in the form of sex-discrimination suits and student protests led to the hiring of a few newcomers expected to conform to traditional roles and expectations. Their scholarly innovations led to a critical mass of white females and female and male faculty of color. In a major turning point away from the long-held notion that “diversity” and “excellence” were at odds with one another, the next, most important phase focused on the identification of excellence with diversity, leading to an institution-wide shift in priorities.
Because of this shift, the theory and practice of race and gender is at the core of teaching and research in a variety of disciplines. Institutional structures are emerging, such as interdisciplinary hires across departmental lines and flexibility in time lines for tenure that facilitate the success of a diverse faculty. Yet changes in faculty numbers have been slow to overturn deeply entrenched cultures of group advantage favoring a traditionally white, male, middle class and heterosexual professoriate. In charting each university’s progress, the presentation will conclude with a call for the examination of these patterns of privilege, and a further exploration of what a truly diversified faculty culture might entail.


Keywords: Privilege, Diversity, Faculty Members, Institutional Practices and Structures
Stream: Gender and Sexuality
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Mary Kay Tetreault

Provost Emerita, Academic Affairs, Portland State University
Portland, OR, USA

Mary Kay Tetreault was for seventeen years an academic administrator including provost at California State University, Fullerton and Portland State University. Frances A. Maher is professor of education at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. They are the authors of two books, The Feminist Classroom and Privilege and Diversity in the Academy. This research encompasses issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Their current research focuses on patterns of privilege in American universities and how a diverse faculty begins to change institutional structures and what is at the core of teaching and research in various disciplines.

Frances A. Maher

Professor of Education, Wheaton
Norton, MA, USA

See joint bio with Tetreault.

Ref: D08P0116