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MIT's Diversity Problem

An internal audit of promotion practices among faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that underrepresented minorities...


An internal audit of promotion practices among faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that underrepresented minorities (non-whites and non-Asians) are having a tougher slog making tenure than their white and Asian peers. The report, released yesterday, suggests that the university is having some trouble reconciling dual emphases on diversity and meritocracy in its hiring. In its striving for the latter, it may end up neglecting the former, the report states:
This difference indicates a deeper dissimilarity in the appreciation of why participation at the highest levels of all groups is needed for future technological and research developments. The idea that MIT's long-term success depends on recruitment of the top talent throughout the U.S. as well as the world is a message that has not yet reached a large part of the faculty. Furthermore, it is clear that the value placed on gaining a diverse faculty is not high.
Over at Inside Higher Ed, a few striking patterns in the ways that different faculty members end up at the prestigious school are highlighted: Upwards of 80 percent of whites and Asians applied and got open faculty positions, whereas more than 60 percent of underrepresented minority hires are actively recruited by the university. And of its black, Latino, and Native American professors, more than half have degrees from MIT, Harvard, or Stanford.Part of this disparity is no doubt due to the relative numbers of each race that seek positions in academia. But, that being said, with only 6 percent of its faculty being underrepresented minorities (whereas these groups make up 30 percent of U.S. population), there is tons of room for an improvement on the diversity front.I have a few questions on what to do with this report: Is it MIT's responsibility to create an atmosphere like that in the general population (when it's a private institution)? And, if any readers went to MIT, does the discomfort felt by black, Latino, Native American professors extend to the student body?Photo via Flickr user Digital Shotgun
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