A new study by scholars at American University in Washington, D.C., and the University of San Francisco, finds that although students from underrepresented groups are increasing in business schools, the percentage of faculty from these groups remains stagnant. According to the study, underrepresented minority groups comprise approximately 28 percent of the student body at U.S. business schools but only 7.5 percent of the faculty. Blacks make up just 4.1 percent of the faculty.
While the “leaky pipeline” explains some of the shortfall in Black faculty at business schools as top students leave the academic track to take more lucrative opportunities in the corporate sector, the authors argue that “systematic bias implicit in the faculty search process is a significant reason for the limited progress on hiring diverse faculty.”
The authors used critical race theory as an analytic framework to examine the ways racial inequality is reproduced through specific practices in the business school search process. A qualitative methodology was used to investigate the experiences of underrepresented minority faculty who have served on business school search committees.
In interviews and focus groups, the authors found that while discussions on diversity are encouraged there is no mandate to do so. Many participants indicated that one reason the conversations about improving racial diversity might be limited is that related school-level policy is not made explicit or is not well defined. Their analysis showed the search committee chair often picks committee members and defines the search criteria. Given that there are few Black faculty in high-level posts at business schools, there will often not be a Black perspective in committee deliberations. Black faculty who are appointed to search committees often believe they are tokens or window dressing. The interviews also showed the search committees often focus on academic pedigree or publication record and do include a holistic approach which includes service record and teacher evaluations.
The authors of the study are Sonya A. Grier, a professor of marketing at American University and Sonja Martin Poole, an associate professor in the School of Management at the University of San Francisco.
The full study “Reproducing Inequity: The Role of Race in the Business School Faculty Search,” was published on the website of the Journal of Marketing Management. It may be accessed here.