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Inclusivity at TAMU


Picture of Powerpoint display during the 50 years of inclusion presentation on the Texas A&M campus

 

Inclusivity at Texas A&M

This is one of several short essays that was prepared as a set of resources during the original NSF ADVANCE grant period. The essay, written by Paula Costa, introduces some of the key issues related to female faculty of color in academia.

What challenges do female faculty of color face in academia?

 

Female faculty of color are a minority within a minority. They face both race and gender-based discrimination within their classrooms and within their universities in general. This is particularly evident in research universities, which have historically been structured to serve the interests of dominant groups and which even today show a marked under-representation of women and faculty of color among senior ranks despite sufficient numbers of women doctorates across many disciplines. This broader reality presents many challenges to the professional standing and personal well-being of female faculty of color.

In the classroom, students are less likely to take female faculty of color seriously as they do not fit their expectations of what a professor should be (i.e., White and male). As a result, the students are more likely to challenge what they say (Ford, 2011).

University-level challenges also exist. For example, female faculty of color often end up being more involved in service duties than their White counterparts (Gregory, 2001), and/or being more available to students, particularly graduate students of color, who see them as role models. However, service and mentoring are less valued and leave less time for work that is highly valued, such as scholarship and grant activity. Female faculty of color report experiencing a higher level of scrutiny for being both female and non-White, and their work may be devalued if it is not considered sufficiently “mainstream”, particularly if it predominantly addresses issues of race or gender. Their experiences of isolation and marginalization can in turn affect their productivity and chances of getting tenure and promotion.
 

What perpetuates these challenges?

 

These challenges are perpetuated by systemic factors that create obstacles for entry and advancement of women of color in academia. Other challenges are stereotypes related to gender-role expectations. Still other challenges are the lack of effective mentors. As Turner, González, & Wood (2008) among others note, the small numbers of female faculty of color often means that they have no mentor who is familiar with the experiences that they are going through, and as a result they often have to figure things out themselves. Many of the problems female faculty of color face can also be linked to their underrepresentation in universities. Increasing their numbers, however, is not enough to bring about change.
 

What can be done?


Universities can adopt policies and implement proactive systems to support female faculty of color by:
creating a campus climate that is accepting of diversity and aware of potential backlash; promoting accountability, acknowledging bias, and counterbalancing privilege; and connecting newly hired female faculty of color to mentors willing to share their experiences.

For more information, please consult these selected references. 

This is one of several short essays that was prepared as a set of resources during the original NSF ADVANCE grant period. The essay, written by Jessica Walker, introduces some of the key concepts and literature related to intersectionality.

What is intersectionality?


Intersectionality means that individuals have multiple identities and characteristics and experiences based on those characteristics that are not easily disentangled into constituent components based on the individual characteristics. These identities serve as organizing features in social relations. These identities are mutually constituted, reinforced through active engagement, and naturalized, thus seen as self-evident through the lens of a different category (Shields, 2008). For example, from an intersectionality perspective, the experience of being an African-American woman is not just a blend of African-American men and Caucasian women’s experiences, but instead a unique experience of its own. Intersectionality is ubiquitous because everyone has intersectional identities—not just minority persons—and these combinations of identities are part of each person’s experiences that shape their interactions with others.

Intersectionality theory also emphasizes that systems of oppression (i.e., the institutionalized systems that disadvantage some people compared to others based on their demographic characteristics) are interconnected, creating different amounts and expressions of discrimination, or disadvantages, for particular individuals or groups of people. The overlapping systems of oppression shape a person’s experiences and opportunities.

There are three general forms of intersectionality: political, structural, and representational (Crenshaw, 1991). Political intersectionality focuses on the different needs and goals of an individual’s identified group (Shields, 2008).  Structural intersectionality refers to how a person’s legal status or social needs are marginalized (Shields, 2008). Representational intersectionality refers to the cultural construction of the identity, including the production and the contemporary critiques of the identity (Crenshaw, 1991).
 

What can an institution of higher education do to address intersectionality?


An institution can change how it addresses intersectionality and the systems of oppression that are embedded in society. Failing to address intersectionality is engaging in discrimination. Through initiatives and research, institutions of higher education can evaluate and alter its climate for faculty, staff, and students.

Resources to Investigate Evidence of Intersectionality in Academic Communities


Below are some resources to consider in order to obtain a better understanding of intersectionality in academic communities and how each academic community has different characteristics, thus creating unique experiences of intersectionality.

Almanac of Higher Education 2014. This resource allows each state to be compared to the nation on several categories such as race, faculty pay, and higher education enrollment.

American Council of Education. This site is filled with resources dedicated to diversity in leadership positions in higher education.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This site discusses theories of intersectionality among feminist theorists.

For more information, please consult these selected references.

As a major public instition of higher education, Texas A&M University is committed to the inclusion, welcome and support of individuals from all groups, including faculty who identify as LGBTQ+.

Texas A&M has a number of organizations that provide support and/or a network for Aggies who identify as LGBTQ+.

The LGBT Professional Network is open to all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender faculty, staff, and graduate students at Texas A&M University.

LGBTQ+ Pride Center (formerly known as the GLBT Resource Center) at Texas A&M strives to create a thriving environment supporting the success of every student through the education, advancement, and championing of the broad spectrum of sexual, affectional, and gender identities in the spirit of the Aggie Core Values. The LGBT+ Pride Center is a unit within the Offices of the Dean of Student Life in the Division of Student Affairs. The center provides education, support, advocacy, and outreach for ALL Aggies in the form of programs, resources, referrals, presentations, and more!

Multicultural Services at Texas A&M helps underrepresented students transition to Texas A&M University while providing academic and educational services for all students. This is accomplished by providing leadership opportunities and intentional programming that inform, educate, engage, challenge, and enhance students' development and global perspectives.

Aggie ALLIES include staff, faculty, and students at Texas A&M who display an Ally placard outside their office or residence hall room identifying themselves as individuals who are willing to provide a safe have, a listening ear, and support for LGBT people or anyone dealing with sexual orientation issues.

Pride Community Center seeks to build community, provide resources and services, offer education and outreach and raise awareness in the Brazos Valley.

Aggie Pride is the LGBTQ and Ally Former Student Network of Texas A&M University.

The Texas A&M Campus map indicates the locations of all unisex/gender inclusive restrooms on campus.

 

As a major public institution of higher education, Texas A&M University is committed to the inclusion, welcome and support of individuals from all groups, including individuals with disabilities. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. Texas A&M University is committed to maintaining an accessible campus community and providing reasonable accommodations to qualified students, faculty, staff and visitors, including making its websites accessible and usable.  Further information about ADA compliance can be found on the Office of Risk, Ethics, and Compliance website.

The Department of Disability Resources within the Division of Student Affairs collaborates with faculty, staff, and students to achieve an equitable learning environment for students with disabilities at Texas A&M University. Disabilities Resources offers accommodations coordination, evaluation referral, disability-related information, assistive technology services, sign language interpreting and transcription services for academically related purposes. 

The Texas A&M Campus map indicates the location of accessible entrances for all buildings at Texas A&M.

As a major public instition of higher education, Texas A&M University is committed to the inclusion, welcome and support of individuals from all groups, including foreign nationals. 

Immigration Services for Faculty and Scholars (ISFS) is the office charged with the responsibility of providing support and guidance to Texas A&M University and its System members as it relates to the employment of foreign nationals.