Faculty less diverse than student body, data shows

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Photo Credit: Kelly Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Students are more diverse than the faculty members who teach them, according to data drawn from UT statistics. 

77.3 percent of UT faculty are white, and 60.8 percent of faculty members are male, according to data drawn from the University’s Institutional Reporting, Research and Information Systems. In contrast, slightly more female than male students attend UT, as a percentage. More Hispanic, Asian and black students attend UT than their faculty counterparts, as a percentage.  

“I’ve taken as many chemistry courses as I can, and almost all of them have been taught by men, specifically by white males,” said Jamie Lee, chemistry senior and president of the Natural Sciences Council. “I think I’ve had one or two female professors my entire time here for chemistry classes. It made me think, ‘Oh, maybe science is just a boy’s club.’” 

Lee, who plans to head to law school in the fall, said if she had more role models who looked like her, she might have considered a career in science. 

“Representation matters,” Lee said. “We need to bring light to the fact that diversity matters and that inclusion matters.” 

Joey Williams, interim communications director for the provost’s office, said the gap between faculty and student diversity has been steadily improving over the past couple of years through the creation of the University Faculty Gender Equity Council. The total number of tenure and tenure track female faculty has grown from 502 to 615 between 2004 and 2014, he said in
an email. 

“There has been significant progress in the past ten years at UT,” Williams wrote in an email. “The recommendations that come out of the sub-committees will lay out how each college can improve moving forward.”

The committee, which is split into three sub-committees — examining climate, family and health, and employment issues — was formed in 2014 and is set to issue a full report this spring, according to the provost’s office. 

“We have to continually ask ourselves what we could be doing better, and that’s what I’ve charged this gender equity council with,” said Janet Dukerich, senior vice provost for faculty affairs in a 2014 interview with The Daily Texan. Members of the committee declined to be interviewed for this article. 

Keffrelyn Brown, an associate education professor who studies access and equity in higher education, said female and minority faculty members sometimes still feel unwelcome among their colleagues at universities.

“If you are the only person of color or the only woman or the one of a very small number, it can be isolating as well — just socially in that space,” Brown said. “You may not have the kinds of mentorship that we all know is necessary to thrive at universities.”

Brown said she welcomed the Rooney Rule, a recently implemented mandate from the UT System requiring faculty search committees to consider at least one female or minority candidate for senior administrative positions to make the University more inclusive.    

“We can’t assume that racial and gender diversity don’t matter. They do,” she said. “If we don’t make it a priority, we can end up with not having the diversity that’s needed, and we wonder what’s gone on. It’s something that needs to be constantly watched and looked at.”