This post is reproduced from my personal blog, which you can view here.
This is a post using basic graphes and charts to tell a story about the racial and gender make-up of the knowledge industry at the University of Florida. Basically, I want to look at the university as a factory, one that produces knowledge. As a labourer in this industry, who controls the means of production is of profound interest and direct import to my daily life. Of course, our knowledge factory is part of a larger knowledge industry called academia. It produces usable things (e.g., data, professionals) that are valued in the market economy of the modern, neoliberal world.
However, this metaphor becomes slippery when we think about things like the means of production and who controls them. There are two broad groups managing resources within most universities; the administration and the faculty. Do you think the racial and gender make-up of the academia's managerial class matters to what kind of knowledge is produced and valued? I do...So, let's start at the beginning, with the undergraduates. The race and gender percentages of this group are often examined as a way to 'measure' the fairness of an institution. In other words, do minorities and women have roughly equal access to higher education?In terms of race, UF is more or less on par with the state's general population. Minority groups have slightly lower numbers enrolled at UF then in the general population; but, of course, UF is a historically white university (HWC). So, this is not too surprising.
UF actually seems to be doing pretty well in its admission of female students. The female undergraduates outnumber their male counterparts in each racial group.
The next set of figures I want to look at are the number of graduate students at UF along thesee identity lines. The graduate students make up the next generation of knowledge industry managers. We will earn PhD's and eventually/hopefully receive jobs as faculty. Also, many of us will take administrative jobs at some point in our career.
So, how do the numbers at UF stack up for the grads?
Again, in terms of gender UF seems to be privileging their female students by admitting more of them. There is one major difference though, the number of female student within the non-resident grads is significantly lower. Hmmm....
In terms of race, US minority percentages experience a significant dip, as do White Americans. Why's this? It's the large number of foreign students, many of whom work in the tech and 'hard' science fields. In fact, since I spend a significant amount of my time at UF in the Computer Sciences Building, I come face-to-face with numerous tech workers from abroad, and few of them are female (see "Grads by Gender" chart above). I wonder, what is the role of these students in their departments and respective fields? Are they becoming part of the next generation of knowledge industry leaders? Does it matter if they do so in America or in their country of origin? Does the training of foreign students by US institutions contribute to a kind of (neo)Colonization of the Mind?
However, I wonder what number of female and minority students gain entry to the knowledge industry as full-time producers (e.g., tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty).
Apparently, at least at UF, that number is relatively low. As you can see, by the time we 'rise' to the level of full-time faculty we see a return to a White dominated institution. [Full-Time Faculty refer to tenure-track and tenured faculty]
This raises an immediate pedagogical issue for me. How does the university speak to its non-White, and non-Male students, colleagues, and larger community? Hopefully, at least there are more female voices at UF; something demonstrating that all the female graduate students have an equal hope of landing that increasingly rare tenure-track position. Is this true at UF?
What about the administration? What's the gender and race make-up here at UF? The image below show the race and gender numbers for Administrative, Support/Service, Secretarial, Skilled Crafts, and Maintenance workers here at UF. Look closely, you'll see some disturbing trends. As you look at the graphic, ask yourself, why are certain jobs dominated by certain races and genders?
So, what does it all mean? Well, the University of Florida is what Eduardo Bonilla-Silva describes as a Historically White University (HWC), drawing on the term Historically Black College (HBC) as a way to demonstrate that racial grammars infect our daily interactions. Also, don't think this is unique to schools in the Deep South. Ivy League schools, you're probably a-lot worse.
The good news? If you're a white guy, the academy is still hiring! If you're not, you can always get married to a white guy or go home. Ultimately, this is all about privelege and who gets to keep it (see McIntosh - Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack).
So, how do we change it? Well, the first step is to realize that it is changing. However, if you're like me, the current rate of change is ruthlessly slow. The insulation of privilege continues to halt significant changes. I think this will be exacerbated with the current economic 'crises'.
Many Critical Race Theorists (which I draw on heavily for this post and my own research) talk about the reproduction of hierarchy in the education system. The first step they and others suggest in combating these inequalities is to name them. This post is a first step in naming them.
Why post this on HASTAC? I didn't for a while. However, in the digital age our access to information is remarkable. I invite others who might happen upon this post to do the same for their institutions. The charts created for this post are drawn from the information compiled by the University of Florida's Office of Institutional Planning and Research. I bet your university has a similar department, and I also bet it'll be difficult to find its data. However, every public university has to make this information available in one form or another.
Its up to us to find this information, analyze it, translate it, and use it to name the inequality around us. I don't know about you, but I want to live in a world where I'm surrounded by minority and female voice at least as much as White Male ones. Help me make that dream a reality!
Si se puede!