As a resurgence of protests in response to racial injustices hit the United States once again during the summer of 2020, I was completing my qualifying exam on the hiring and promotion of Black women faculty. Writing about the history of oppressive structures and practices towards Black people, while watching and living in that moment, was extremely challenging. In response to the many calls for change across the country, Indiana University (IU) launched the IU Racial Justice Research Fund to provide funding support for research projects that address critical racial equity and justice issues. The fund was specifically aimed at Black researchers or efforts that involved Black graduate students.
Eager to continue the research that was prompted by my qualifying exam, I reached out to Dr. Allison BrckaLorenz to inquire if this would be a grant she would be willing to put her faculty support behind. We proposed a three phrase, mixed-methods study to examine the success strategies used by Black women faculty. To our excitement, our proposal was accepted, and we received the grant.
Phase one used existing Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) data to highlight Black women faculty’s perceptions of discrimination and bias, sense of belonging, mental health and wellness, and the types of support they receive. In phase two, interviews were conducted with 14 Black women faculty at the full professor rank, who worked at various institutions, to explore their strategies for navigating the professoriate and contextualizing the results from phase one of the project.
In the final phase, we used information from the interviews to create survey items to collect data from a wider array of Black women faculty. These items measure how often they use strategies or have access to the support structures that the interviewees found most helpful. For example, one item added to the survey asks, “In a typical school year, how often have you done the following?” in relation to success strategies mentioned by the interview participants. Those survey items were featured on the 2021 administration of the College +University Teaching Environment (CUTE) Survey.
In November 2021, CUTE Survey data on Black women faculty was presented at the annual Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network Conference, and those slides can be found here. This research will also be presented at 2022 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).