Equity advocates using equity-mindedness to interrupt faculty hiring's racial structure

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Abstract

Background/Context: Education scholars have recommended steps for college and university leaders to take toward creating a more racially diverse professoriate. However, the majority of the scholarship is neither empirical nor focused on faculty actively negotiating barriers during search committee meetings to create equitable practices. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The study examined faculty within search committees who received formal training to interrogate exclusionary hiring procedures and create race-conscious and equitable hiring practices. My goals were to understand the strategies and efforts to advance racial equity of faculty trained on equity-mindedness to negotiate and use practices to change exclusionary hiring procedures. Thus, I answer the following research questions: (1) How do professors enact their agency to create equitable hiring practices during faculty search committee meetings? (2) What challenges do professors encounter when using equity-minded practices during faculty search committees? How do professors overcome such challenges? Setting: The study site was a religiously affiliated private liberal arts university with a predominantly White student and faculty population. Senior administrators invested resources in a ten-month intervention to train 17 faculty to advance racial equity in faculty hiring. Population/Participants/Subjects: Study participants consisted of 10 faculty members whose university leadership designated them as advocates of racial equity on search committees. Research Design: Data for this critical narrative analysis were collected through eight interviews with faculty equity advocates, observations of two faculty search committees, and documents of hiring materials such as hiring criteria, interview questions, and evaluation rubrics. Findings/Results: Ultimately, faculty enacted their agency to deactivate exclusionary practices and inscribe new rules for search committees to follow. The findings illustrate that faculty agency for racial equity is an effort to establish positional power, to use equity-minded practices, and to informally strategize to overcome resistance as members of faculty search committees. Conclusions/Recommendations: I conclude that faculty advance racial equity by manipulating and subverting practices (e.g., recruitment strategies, evaluation criteria), rules (e.g., conversations about race), and roles (e.g., legitimate roles as committee members, who have the knowledge to integrate equity-mindedness) that historically excluded racially minoritized professors from the hiring process. Study findings suggest for senior administrators to train faculty search committee members on taking active steps to create an equity-minded evaluation system, including the appointment of people who are explicitly trained to advocate for equity in the evaluation process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number090310
JournalTeachers College Record
Volume122
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2020

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