Do Faculty Diversity Initiatives Work? Evidence from 600 Schools

U.S. colleges and universities have experimented with dozens of different programs to promote faculty diversity, including anti-bias training, taskforces, mentoring programs, work-life programs, and anti-harassment initiatives. But in the last two decades, faculty diversity has barely budged. We look at data from 600 schools over more than 25 years to determine which programs show the greatest promise and which are most likely to backfire. Work-life programs lead to significant increases in white, black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women on the faculty. Diversity programs oriented to recruiting and retaining women and minority faculty mostly help. Yet harassment and diversity programs designed to shame and blame bad actors tend to backfire. Findings point to how colleges and universities can move the needle.

Frank Dobbin is professor of sociology at Harvard. He holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. His Inventing Equal Opportunity (Princeton University Press, 2009), which won the Max Weber and Distinguished Scholarly Book Awards from the American Sociological Association, charts how corporate human resources professionals defined discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. With Alexandra Kalev, he is developing an evidence-based approach to diversity management, studying both the effects of corporate diversity programs on actual workforce diversity, and the effects of workforce diversity on corporate performance. In a new project, he is exploring how university hiring, promotion, diversity, work-life, and harassment programs have shaped faculty diversity over the last quarter century.

Those not signed up for the conference are welcome to attend by registering here. Refreshments will be served afterwards from 6-7pm.

This lecture is part of the Conference 'Excellence and Gender Equality: Critical Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge in the Humanities and Social Sciences' and would not be possible without the support of the College of Arts and Social Science, and the School of Philosophy, ANU