elizabeth warren and minority professors
There’s been a slow burning debate over Elizabeth Warren’s ethnicity. She has some Native American background but is functionally White. Yet, her former employer, the Harvard Law School, listed her as minority faculty.
The real issue here isn’t Elizabeth Warren, millions of Americans have Native American roots. The issue is the relative paucity of minority faculty on the tenure track. Listing Warren as Native American rubbed people the wrong way because her employer was trying to gain credit for diversity without hiring people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The pipeline for minorities is very broken. Even though graduate programs do a fair job recruiting minorities, most do a horrible job training minority graduate students and getting them on the tenure track. Doctoral programs often run on a philosophy of benign neglect. In such an environment, women and underrepresented groups are the first to go. Later on, there’s hand wringing over the lack of minorities in academic leadership positions.
Harvard’s actions exemplify academia’s poor response to the under-representation of minorities on the tenure track. They use dubious statistics to paper over a problem. The only way to address the issue is to directly confront graduate programs and ensure that *all* students receive adequate training within a reasonable time frame. Administrations should end the regime of benign neglect in America’s graduate programs and implement a series of benchmarks for all students. Only when that is done will universities be able to fill their departments with qualified minority faculty.