Checking Race On Employment Applications In Higher Education: Good Or Bad Idea?

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  • A new generation of young, Black scholars is working diligently to infuse the Ivy League with fresh perspectives and intersectional analyses, but, for some, getting through the heavily protected gates is a crash course in systemic racism in and of itself.

    These scholars often find themselves huddled over applications which ask the pivotal question:

    Should I check the ‘race’ box?

    Dr. Stacey Patton, senior enterprise reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education, decided to explore the pros and cons of checking ‘Black’ or ‘African American’ when seeking employment in higher education.

    Are these institutions truly seeking diversity or are they trying to weed out people of color?

    What Patton discovered is that fears of racist exclusion are in some cases justified; but, more often than not, those fears — manifest by choosing not to racially identify — can have adverse effects.

    Read more from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

    If you’ve applied for any kind of an academic job, you’ve seen it: the form that asks you to disclose your gender, race, and, if applicable, disability. And you’ve probably taken note of the assurances that your reply is optional, it’s confidential, and it will have no influence on the hiring process.

    So maybe you’ve stared at that form and asked yourself: Should I check the race box?

    That’s a particularly pressing question for candidates of color. Ask them how they feel about disclosing their race, and you’ll learn that there are two schools of thought on the matter. While some scholars are wary, others think it might be an asset.

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