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Diversity: It’s the Culture, Stupid

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 05 March 11 2019

March 2019

The UCLA HE Research Institute has published its 2016-17 “Undergraduate Teaching Faculty Survey”, the 10th in a series of triennial reports since 1989. The report – with over 20 000 responses from faculty in close to 150 HE institutions – is a rich source of data and gives insights in various dimensions of perceived inequality between teachers by ethnicity and gender.

One of the interesting messages to take from the report is perceived discrimination is more in the culture and less in policies and regulations: the feeling among teachers from a diverse background that diversity is promoted and that they are treated fairly by the organisation, is much less negative than their perception of discrimination as a source of stress. They feel that they need to work much harder to get the same appreciation and recognition as their white male peers. Apparently, the implicit culture is more impactful than the formal structures and policies.

One other interesting insight is that almost all categories of teaching staff in the majority feel underprepared to handle diversity tensions in class, but white teachers do so less than others. Which begs the question if they’re better prepared or less aware of the issue.

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