Diverse Mentors, Black Faculty, Trans Models

November 14, 2018

The Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey of 5,000 recent college grads reveals racial disparities in the amount and type of mentoring students receive during college. Less than half the students reported that they had a mentor who “encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams,” and 64% of students who did have a mentor said that person was on the faculty (as opposed to staff, family, or friends). Seventy-two percent of white studentsbut only 47% of students of colorsaid they had a faculty mentor. And while only seven percent of white students reported having a staff mentor, that number doubled among students of color. Chronicle reporter Audrey Williams June says the disparity stems from underrepresentation of faculty of color, leaving few options for students of color who need or want a mentor of a similar background as them.

Professors Are the Likeliest Mentors for Students, Except Those Who Aren’t White, by Audrey Williams June for The Chronicle

Statistics show that there hasn’t been much progress in increasing faculty diversity on campuses across the country. Fewer than seven percent of tenure-track professors are African American, and that number actually fell between 2006 and 2016. Ansley Abraham, who works with doctoral students at the Southern Regional Education Board State Doctoral Scholars Program, says that since most faculty are white, their networks are mostly white as well, which means schools need to expand their searches beyond their own networks and the institutions they’re familiar with. He says they should recruit Black PhD students before they graduate, and also remember that the process doesn’t end when diverse faculty are hired—schools need to ensure that faculty feel comfortable and want to stay at the school. For example, Robert Palmer, an African American professor, reported that when he worked at a predominantly white college, his white colleagues didn’t pay attention to him until he started publishing in bigger journals. At one point, someone even thought that Palmer’s student, who was white, was the professor. He said he felt “lonely,” “isolated,” and “invisible” until he befriended two other professors of color, who he says helped to normalize his experience and got him through until he finally transferred to an HBCU.

Despite decades of pledging to hire more black faculty, most universities didn’t, by APM Reports for The Hechinger Report

Lingerie company Victoria’s Secret is facing significant backlash after Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek said he doesn’t think the annual televised fashion show should feature transgender models because the show is a “fantasy.” Trans models and consumers alike are now calling for a boycott of the brand, not only because of its transphobia, but also because of its “lack of body inclusivity and racial diversity.” Meanwhile, lingerie competitors like Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, Aerie by American Eagle, and Thirdlove have been commended for featuring products and marketing material that “cater to a wide-ranging audience, including people with disabilities, illnesses, [and] different body types and skin tones.” Following Razek’s comment, the non-profit research, policy, and advocacy organization Model Alliance released a statement that noted how “such comments create a hostile work environment for people who do not conform to Victoria’s Secret’s mold—one that enforces an idea of female beauty that is predominantly white, cisgender, young and thin.”

Fashion Insiders Slam Victoria’s Secret Executive Ed Razek for Transgender Model Comments, by Amira Rasool of Teen Vogue