How “well-meaning” faculty of privileged identities sustain inequity

Charles Henderson
Western Michigan University

This workshop will use data from two IUSE studies to help attendees understand the perspectives of white men related to DEI work. Because white men are overrepresented in powerful positions in nearly all US higher education institutions, understanding how they think about DEI issues is important. Study 1 (DUE 1726328-Henderson, 1726042-Dancy, 1726281-Johnson, 1726126-Raker, and 2028134-Stains) is a survey of N=1064 STEM instructors that suggest white men frequently do not recognize discrimination around them. In contrast most people of color and women report directly experiencing discrimination. When white men intervene after witnessing discrimination, they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcomes than when people of color or women intervene. Study 2 (DUE 1712436-Dancy) is an interview study of 27 progressively-minded white male physics faculty and graduate students. Despite their stated desires to address inequities, they frequently engaged in discourses that distanced themselves from inequity, minimized its impact, and justified their lack of action to address it. While most of them considered themselves very knowledgeable about DEI issues, they demonstrated very limited understanding of how bias and discrimination show up in STEM or the impacts on people of color and women. Participants will be presented with data from the two studies, asked to discuss their interpretations of this data, and encouraged to consider how these result could inform DEI initiatives.