Category Archives: Institutional Climate

Black women in economics

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 2.25.55 PMA few weeks ago, in the Chronicle: “‘It Was a Mistake for Me to Choose This Field’: A Survey Lays Bare the Experiences of Black Women in Economics”

A brief and heart-breaking excerpt:

According to the results of a climate survey that leaders of the American Economic Association called the first of its kind for the organization, which were released in September, 62 percent of black women reported experiencing racial or gender discrimination, or both. That was the highest percentage of any racial group. “I would not recommend my own (black) children to go into this field,” wrote one respondent. “It was a mistake for me to choose this field. Had I known that it would be so toxic, I would not have.”


Again, we repeat: Student Evaluations of Teaching are biased

apple-3256487_1920Last week the Chronicle‘s teaching newsletter reported, again, about SETs: “‘Brilliant’ Philosophers and ‘Funny’ Psychology Instructors: What a Data-Visualization Tool Tells Us About How Students See Their Professors”.

The American Sociological Association has issued a cautionary statement on the use of SETs, endorsed by 17 other professional associations (including the American Historical Association and the American Political Science Association). The statement also offers better solutions, including:

Ask students to give feedback about their own experiences, not assign ratings, and use evaluations to locate patterns in a professor’s teaching over time, not to compare that professor to others.

The statement also provides examples of colleges that have taken a holistic approach to assessing teaching. The University of Oregon, for instance, has created a framework that includes peer review, self-reflection, and student feedback.


Chronicle: Why Diversity Initiatives Fail

cropped-woh_logo_512x5123.pngPamela Newkirk, in “Why Diversity Initiatives Fail” in the Chronicle of Higher Ed today, writes about the ways that target-of-opportunity hiring fails, paying attention to history, and who’s responsible for the pipeline.

If anything, the trend is moving toward a flattened diversity-for-all mantle that embraces diversity of all kinds while ignoring the history and legacy of structural racial disadvantage baked into the educational system.

. . . Unless and until white America — including academics and those who claim progressive values — comes to terms with the reality of persisting injustice, diversity initiatives will continually fail.

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Perez (2019)

Thanks so much to everyone who came to Where We Stand last week!

Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 5.17.40 PMIn her remarks, Dean Beverly Wendland spoke about Perez’s research, which we posted about here a few months ago. You can listen to the podcast that had Dean Wendland racing to buy the book here.

And stay tuned for a symposium on bias in research questions, data collection, analysis, and results coming to JHU in 2020!

Below is an excerpt from our earlier post, quoting The Guardian article.

“The gender data gap is both a cause and a consequence of the type of unthinking that conceives of humanity as almost exclusively male.”

Men are more likely than women to be involved in a car crash, which means they dominate the numbers of those seriously injured in them. But when a woman is involved in a car crashshe is 47% more likely to be seriously injured, and 71% more likely to be moderately injured, even when researchers control for factors such as height, weight, seatbelt usage, and crash intensity. She is also 17% more likely to die. And it’s all to do with how the car is designed – and for whom.

Women tend to sit further forward when driving. This is because we are on average shorter. Our legs need to be closer to reach the pedals, and we need to sit more upright to see clearly over the dashboard. This is not, however, the “standard seating position”, researchers have noted. Women are “out of position” drivers. And our wilful deviation from the norm means that we are at greater risk of internal injury on frontal collisions. The angle of our knees and hips as our shorter legs reach for the pedals also makes our legs more vulnerable. Essentially, we’re doing it all wrong.