Editorial: The difficulty of achieving a truly diverse faculty

By The News-Letter | September 29, 2016

The Office of the Provost released the first ever Report on Faculty Composition on Thursday, Sept. 22, which presented statistics about the makeup of our faculty‘s gender and ethnicity.

The report was composed partially in response to   protests staged by the  Black Student Union (BSU) last November, during which participants requested University action and called for Hopkins to hire more minority faculty members.

The Editorial Board would like to thank the BSU for bringing faculty diversity to the University’s attention, and we also commend the University for listening to its students and for considering their input.

The Editorial Board also appreciates  the University’s transparency in publishing this report. Most universities never take such a step. We believe the administration’s decision to create this report puts Hopkins on the path to making our University a more inclusive place.

We recommend that the Report on Faculty Composition be updated and released annually, as is the case at the University of Rochester, where an Annual Report on Diversity has been published every year since 2007.

According to the report, only eight percent of Hopkins faculty are underrepresented minorities (URM), while 19 percent of the Class of 2019 were URMs. This disparity is a problem, but we must recognize the difficulties of closing that gap.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 74 percent of all awarded PhDs went to white people in 2010. The Editorial Board believes that having a faculty that is representative of the diversity of the student body is important, and we commend the University for taking steps to hire more URM faculty. However, we also recognize that Hopkins will not sacrifice the quality of its professors.

The Report on Faculty Composition also offered statistics on our faculty’s gender breakdown. Women make up 42 percent of the faculty and are, therefore, nearly evenly represented with men. However, only nine percent of professorial positions in our Engineering departments are held by women.

According to the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 22 percent of PhDs in those fields awarded in 2011 went to women. The Editorial Board acknowledges that there is a small pool of women to hire from, but we believe that is important to have female professors in STEM fields so that female students have positive role models leading their classes.

Although the Report on Faculty Composition reveals a lack of diversity in the Hopkins faculty and a disparity between women and URMs in non-professorial positions and professorial positions, its publication represents an important step taken by the University in the direction of greater transparency and more diversity in the future.

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