West Virginia University Scholars Developing a Toolkit to Help Increase Faculty Diversity

Colleges and universities across the United States almost universally express a desire to increase the representation of African Americans and members of underrepresented groups on their faculties. But many have not been able to move the needle forward and faculty diversity has lagged. The slow progress in faculty diversity is especially notable in STEM disciplines.

Researchers at West Virginia University are developing a toolkit to show academic institutions nationwide how to achieve success in their faculty diversity efforts. The team is investigating which approaches, leadership roles, and institutional contexts are advancing faculty equity in STEM. They are assessing the impact of initiatives that focus on transforming institutional culture and implementing programs to help underrepresented graduate students reach their career goals.

The research team, led by Kasi Jackson, director of the ADVANCE Center and Sharon Bird, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at West Virginia University, is creating a toolkit that institutions can use to identify pathways to successful faculty diversity initiatives. It includes checklists and scoring guides for assessing organizational culture.

“Accountable leadership and sustained commitment to reducing career barriers and ensuring equal opportunities are among the most important criteria to create truly equitable higher education institutions,” Dr. Bird said. “Only then will they lead the way in educating students of all backgrounds and interests and in preparing the next generation of global leaders.”

“The study results will enable universities and colleges to identify key leverage points for systemic equity transformation and the practices, policies and cultural changes needed for achieving campus equity goals,” said Dr. Jackson.

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