Discriminatory organizational contexts and black scientists on postsecondary faculties

Stephen Kulis, Yinong Chong, Heather Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Severe underrepresentation of African-Americans among postsecondary faculty is often linked to educational pipeline "supply" problems, while institutional variations in "demand" for black faculty labor and barriers to their recruitment and retention receive less empirical attention. Using a nationally representative sample of college faculty from a wide array of institutions and science disciplines, this study investigates links between internal organizational conditions and black faculty representation. Hypotheses derive from competing explanations of the role of race in academic organizations: institutionalized discrimination to protect dominant group privileges; statistical discrimination based on expectations of racial group differences in academic preparation; labor supply and political constraints on black faculty recruitment. A multivariate analysis examines organizational conditions that promote or curb these dynamics and their relationship to black appointments at different tenure levels. Results indicate that although the discipline-specific black doctoral labor supply is a powerful constraint on the representation of black faculty, selective organizational contexts are substantial influences as well. Although we find little evidence that insulation from competition or segmented faculty labor markets influence the racial composition of faculties, black faculty are more often found where institutionalized discrimination may be checked by greater formalization and black constituencies on campus. Consistent with statistical discrimination, black faculty are poorly represented at research-oriented institutions, even controlling for the scholarly reputation of doctoral credentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-148
Number of pages34
JournalResearch in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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