Sex and Race Discrimination in Academia Starts Even Before Grad School Article
This was an excellent (although depressing) article my mentor shared with me yesterday, and I decided I couldn’t ignore the findings.Because I am a testament to the power and success of undergraduate research and mentoring, the idea that women and minorities are not only disadvantaged once they arrive at graduate school, but also before they even get the opportunity is disheartening and enraging simultaneously.
This article is based on a study (currently under review) titled: <em>”What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations” </em>written by Katherine Milkman, Modupe Akinola, and Dolly Chugh. Their main findings are based on an experiment in which 6,500 faculty members were emailed by a “student” asking to set-up a meeting to discuss potential research opportunities. The emails were identical except the name of the student, and the time they would be on campus. Their full study (including the actual email sent) can be found here.
They found that white males (using the name Steven Smith or Brad Anderson) were over 20% more likely to receive a response as compared to females and minorities. Given the rising number of students applying to graduate school and the increasing expectations of applicants, the lack of research opportunities and quality mentoring can be highly detrimental for future success in academia. Similar to the research finding that early childhood social conditions have a lasting impact on adult socialization, success, and health; early academic mentoring, training, and opportunities shape an individuals academic future career, identity, and success. The academic world is challenging enough for women and minorities, and this set-back is the first step along this turbulent path.
Nicholas Rowland, Eric Charles, and I recently had an article published in References Services Review, a Library Science journal. In it, we argue that the intersection of the embedded librarian movement with undergraduate research offers great opportunities to increase student retention and engagement, which benefit not only librarians, but colleges and universities as well.
Knapp, J. A., Rowland, N. J., & Charles, E. P. (2014). Retaining students by embedding librarians into undergraduate research experiences. Reference Services Review, 42(1), 129–147. doi:10.1108/RSR-02-2013-0012
If your institution does not subscribe to this journal, you can read a pre-pub copy here.
Dr. Nicholas Rowland and I had the pleasure of attending Penn State’s Engaged Scholarship Symposium on March 25, 2014. It was a large, university-wide event that featured panel discussions by experts in the field of promoting engaged scholarship, as well as Penn State faculty discussing their experiences with engaged scholarship.
“Engaged Scholarship”is defined by Penn State’s Council on Engaged Scholarship as “out-of-classroom academic experiences that complement classroom learning.” Rowland and I noticed the announcement for this symposium and immediately noted that it sounded an awful lot like what we’ve always been calling “Undergraduate Research,” so we immediately signed up. From what we gathered from the discussions, Engaged Scholarship encompasses Undergraduate Research, and if not directly synonymous, might be a little broader of a term. Engaged Scholarship also includes an aspect of making the research enterprise at large research institutions like Penn State relevant to the non-academic world. In other words, applying the term “engagement” not just to the idea of “engaging students in research,” but also “engaging the public in our research.”
As a thought experiment, the following question was raised: “Penn State has one of the best anthropology programs in the country: What should this mean to a coal miner from Hazleton?” I have often argued for the importance of scholars being able to explain their research to non-scholars, because oftentimes the popular press (newspapers, magazines) pick up on stories about important research results, and don’t do a great job of representing the overall importance. Scholars need to do a better job at explaining the big picture, and how their research fits into it. Engaged Scholarship as discussed at this symposium was framed as a way of reorienting our roles in academia toward solving social problems, generating new knowledge, and being able to successfully describe its impact.
One of the biggest takeaways of the symposium for me, however, was just the additional vocabulary I picked up to describe undergraduate research. As a librarian, I’m always scanning for different terminology used to describe similar concepts– it helps in searching the literature! So not only was “engaged scholarship” picked up, but also “high impact practices” (used in the higher-ed administration field), “experiential learning,” and “full-spectrum learning.” So, all you readers interested in undergraduate research: keep your eyes and ears open for these terms.