Essay explains new hashtag campaign to draw attention to the diversity of professors and their appearance

OneLogin’s recent recruitment campaign showing diverse engineers on billboards in the San Francisco Bay Area inspired a viral hashtag: #ILookLikeAnEngineer.

Frustrated by the microaggressions we experience as “nontraditional” faculty, we started a new hashtag: #ILookLikeAProfessor. The flurry of photos, retweets and horror stories since last Thursday suggests that we are not alone in experiencing entrenched stereotypes and bias -- both subtle and explicit.

  • The female professor mistaken for an undergraduate. She was grading homework, not doing it.
  • Male teaching assistants assumed to be the professor.
  • Faculty members of color assumed to be the custodian.
  • Asian professors assumed to be Chinese food delivery drivers.

We are not making this up.

These are real posts from real people -- real professors in diverse fields across the United States -- who do not fit the stereotype of a 60-something, white male professor, usually in tie and tweed. Extra credit if glasses and a beard came to mind.

With the start of the new academic year just around the corner, it’s worth remembering how much the professoriate has changed over the past half century. The civil rights movement, feminism, gay rights, the Americans With Disabilities Act and more transformed many aspects of society, including the academy. It’s time for our assumptions about faculty to catch up with reality.

So, who are we?

We are economists and art historians, musicians and engineers, chemists and sociologists, poets and mathematicians.

We are black, brown and white -- and every shade in between.

We come in all shapes, sizes and proportions.

We are feminine, masculine and androgynous -- and sometimes we look different one day to the next.

We are queer, straight and questioning.

We speak many languages, and some of us have accents.

We have voices high and low, loud and soft.

We wear suits and jeans, hiking boots and high heels.

We have dreads and dyed hair -- and yes, some of us do have beards.

We wear glasses and contacts, ties and scarves, kipot and hijabs.

We have earrings, tattoos and piercings -- only some of which you can see.

We are partnered and single, parents and child-free, caregivers and neighbors.

We are Christian and atheist, Muslim and Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist, pagan and agnostic.

We are athletes and bookworms, hikers and artists, musicians and chefs, gardeners and dog walkers.

In other words, we look just like you.

We look like professors because we are professors. It’s long past time that we ditch the stereotype.

Sara B. Pritchard (@SaraBPritchard) is associate professor of science and technology studies at Cornell University and a Public Voices Fellow at the Op-Ed Project.

Adeline Koh (@adelinekoh) is a director of a digital humanities center at Stockton University and associate professor of literature there.

Michelle Moravec (@professmoravec) is associate professor of history at Rosemont College.

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Unarmed Black Male Student Fatally Shot by Police

Christian Taylor, a student and football player at Angelo State University in Texas, has become the latest unarmed black male to be fatally shot by the police. The Star-Telegram reported that Taylor was shot in a car dealership in the middle of the night, with police investigating a possible robbery in progress there. Police reports say that Taylor was shot during an altercation with police, but some members of Taylor's family doubt that account. On July 30, Taylor used his Twitter account to say: "I don't wanna die too younggggg."

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Engineering Deans Pledge to Promote Diversity

At Tuesday's "Demo Day," a White House event to promote entrepreneurship, more than 100 engineering deans issued a pledge to promote diversity efforts. Specifically the deans -- through the American Society for Engineering Education -- said that they would develop diversity plans for their institutions, create at least one K-12 or community college "pipeline activity" to attract a more diverse pool of students to their institutions, and promote partnerships with non-Ph.D. granting engineering colleges that serve groups that are under-represented in engineering.


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Court: Iowa Must Bargain With Grad Union on Fee

The University of Iowa must negotiate with its graduate student employee union over the reimbursement of student fees, according to a state court. The Iowa District Court for Polk County upheld an earlier Public Employee Relations Board finding that the university must bargain with graduate teaching and research assistants over the reimbursement of such fees, which equal several hundred dollars or more annually, depending on one’s program.

The Board of Regents for the State of Iowa had sought to overturn the board’s ruling, arguing that student fees should be exempt from mandatory bargaining as they pertain to union members’ student — not employee — status. But Judge Karen A. Romano ruled late last week that student fee reimbursements were supplemental pay, and therefore a mandatory bargaining topic in Iowa. Moreover, Romano wrote in her decision, supplemental pay is “triggered” by union members' status as employees, not students. Ruth Bryant, a master's of fine arts student and a spokeswoman for the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS), which is affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, said the ruling “validates and strengthens” the union’s fight.

Tom Moore, a spokesman for the university, said the Board of Regents was “evaluating the decision and considering its options.”

Microbiologists show it's possible to achieve gender equity in scholarly presentations

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American Society for Microbiology shows that a scientific group with relatively few female speakers can change things dramatically in just a few years.

The Quest for Black Male Applicants to Med School

The Association of American Medical Colleges on Monday released a report outlining steps taken and ideas for future strategies to increase the number of black male applicants to medical schools. The report comes amid concerns among medical educators about the inability of medical schools to attract more black male applicants -- a first step in enrolling more of such students. From 1978 to 2014, the number of black male college graduates increased, but the number of black male applicants to medical school dropped to 1,337 from 1,410.

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Gay rights groups urge Common Application to add questions on sexual orientation and gender identity

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25 gay rights groups urge Common Application to add optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Clinton Jabs Bush on Black Enrollment Drops

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, on Friday used a speech at the annual meeting of the National Urban League to criticize Governor Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican nomination who was to speak later that day. Clinton said she was pleased that other candidates would be attending, but said that she was concerned about a "mismatch" between what candidates tell groups like the Urban League and what they actually do. She didn't name Bush by name, but several times referenced "Right to Rise," the name of Bush's political action committee. People "can't rise if their governor makes it harder to get a college education," she said.

Clinton's apparent reference was to the impact of Bush, which governor of Florida, ending the consideration of race and ethnicity by Florida's public universities. Black enrollment dropped significantly at the University of Florida as a result. The same is true for Florida State University. And while Latino higher education enrollments have increased, many credit the state's population boom for that, and suggest that Bush's policies did not -- as he has boasted -- encourage those gains.

In his remarks at the National Urban League, Bush did not respond to what Clinton said. But he did say that, while he was governor, "we expanded our community college system and made it more affordable for low-income families. Florida in those years helped thousands more first-generation college students make it all the way to graduation."


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Ohio State Band Used Song to Mock Holocaust Victims

Ohio State University's marching band, widely considered one of the best in the country, had a parody song in its songbook that mocked Holocaust victims, The Wall Street Journal reported. The song, to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," featured lyrics about Nazi soldiers “searching for people livin’ in their neighbor’s attic,” and a “small town Jew … who took the cattle train to you know where.” The songbook urges band members to keep the song secret. The songbook also features a song mocking the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, added after the institution joined the Big Ten, that featured lyrics suggesting Nebraska students are gay and have sex with animals.

Ohio State has been pushing to change a band culture that the university has criticized as creating a hostile environment for students from many groups -- but many band alumni have been pushing back against change. In a statement to the Journal, the university said that the songbook lyrics viewed by the newspaper were an example of the “shocking behavior” that the university “committed to eradicating from its marching band program.”


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Appeals Court Partially Backs Adjunct's Disability Claim

A federal appeals court on Thursday partially overturned a lower court's dismissal of an adjunct professor's lawsuit accusing Moraine Valley Community College of discriminating against him on the basis of disability. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that the lower court incorrectly dismissed William Silk's claim that Moraine Valley officials had limited his course assignments in fall 2010 because they did not think he was physically recovered from heart surgery. The appeals panel upheld the dismissal of Silk's other claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but ordered the lower court to consider the merits of the course assignment claim.

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