Session: Surviving and Thriving: To be Black, Female, and in Academia (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

11 Surviving and Thriving: To be Black, Female, and in Academia

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Union Square 21 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Gender (G)
Quenette Walton, PhD, University of Houston, Gina M. Samuels, PhD, University of Chicago, Tyreasa Washington, PhD, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Joan Blakey, PHD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Tina Sacks, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
In past decades, due to affirmative hiring practices, some fields, such as the humanities and education, have experienced increases in female faculty, particularly white female faculty (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2015). White female faculty comprise 35% of full-time faculty at degree-granting institutions, whereas black female faculty comprise 3% (NECS, 2015). As universities continue to struggle around issues of equity, inclusion and diversity often in response to an increasingly diverse student body, hiring becomes increasingly attuned to racial diversity. Today, at most universities, 77% of faculty are white (NCES, 2015). Clearly, significant concerns persist about how institutions embody equity, inclusion and diversity. These present concerns shape hiring, retention, and promotion processes for racial-ethnic minority faculty generally, but in particular for black women. In fact, racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in higher education enrollment and attainment are pronounced for black women. And the consequences of these disparities may lead to additional difficulties in successfully recruiting, retaining and promoting black women faculty.

The field of social work has examined the various factors that affect the hiring, retention, promotion and academic success among black women faculty. Findings from these studies identified racism, sexism, campus climate, isolation, salary inequity, and a debilitating institutional ethos as negatively effecting the lives, work success and professional wellbeing of black women faculty. Thus, emerging studies are beginning to focus on exploring how diversity and inclusion relates to the core institutional mission, identifying ways to foster inclusive environments, and developing diversity committees. Rarely are these topics examined intersectionally, particularly as relevant to black women faculty. This limits our ability to develop equitable work environments and systems that support their success. Increasingly, black women faculty are calling for more multipronged and integrated approaches to creating just and equitable academic work environments. This integration must be deeply mindful of the contextual factors that are present for black women faculty, and represent the diversity within this group of women, in order to be effective.

Drawing upon diverse experiences, this round table will focus on a) tensions and articulations of success and risk in academic contexts, b) critical elements of professional relationships as menacing versus mentoring, and c) the art of surviving and thriving in academia. To that end, one senior faculty member, will discuss the role of contextual factors salient in the lives of black academicians and outline ways in which institutions can support black women through the hiring, retention, promotion, processes. Another presenter and junior faculty member, will highlight the importance of mentoring and key factors associated with successful mentoring relationships that support the success of tenure track black women in academia. Two mid-level career faculty will highlight examples of surviving and thriving in the academy. By providing diverse examples we hope to encourage conversations, advance understanding of, and build increased attunement to the contributions black women make within their institutions despite these challenges. We encourage institutions to take seriously the intersections of race and gender as core to any equity work.

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