A recent report by the American Psychological Association (APA) sheds light on the ongoing disparities in the diversity of the professoriate in the United States.
Despite widespread commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia, the report underscores the challenges faced by psychology professors of color in achieving tenure, promotion, and retention.
The APA’s task force, comprised of psychology professors from various institutions, conducted an extensive review of quantitative and qualitative studies from 2021 to 2022.
APA task force identifies barriers to inclusivity
Their findings highlight several barriers, including unrecognized mentorship, disproportionate committee work expectations, and biases in research topic evaluations.
To address these issues and promote inclusivity in tenure evaluations, the task force has made recommendations such as addressing biases in student evaluations and giving more weight to service activities performed by professors.
Mitch Prinstein, the APA’s Chief Science Officer, emphasized that this is not solely a psychology issue but a concern for academia as a whole. He hopes that the report will encourage other disciplines to adapt to a more diverse world.
The report also highlights demographic changes in the United States, with the percentage of white individuals decreasing from 79.4% in 1980 to 57.8% in 2020.
However, the representation of white professors significantly outweighs faculty members of color, particularly at higher academic ranks.
While the report does not provide specific data on psychology professors, it uses U.S. Department of Education data to offer an overview of diversity in the professoriate.
As of fall 2021, 60.5% of assistant professors were white, increasing to nearly 71% at the associate professor level and 76% at the full professor level.
The report highlights the challenges faced by faculty of color due to the demands of “invisible labor,” which often includes informal advising and mentorship for students of color. This additional workload can impact their research and publication efforts crucial for tenure.
To address these challenges, the report calls for greater transparency in tenure-review expectations, assigning mentors to incoming faculty of color, and offering compensation or course relief to mentors for their valuable work.
The APA report underscores the need for academia to recognize and address these issues to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for all faculty members.