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Professors Still More Likely Than Students to Be White

August 1, 2019
 
 

A new analysis from Pew Research Center says that while racial and ethnic diversity has increased among U.S. college faculty over the past two decades, professors are still much more likely than their students to be white. In 2017, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics and looked at by Pew, 76 percent of all college and university faculty members were white, compared to 55 percent of undergraduates. By ethnic group, just 5 percent of faculty members were Hispanic, compared to 20 percent of students. Six percent of professors were black, compared to 14 percent of their students. Asians were the exception, making up 11 percent of professors and 7 percent of students.

The share of nonwhite undergraduates jumped from 28 percent to 45 percent between 1997 and 2017, which Pew attributes largely to the growth in numbers of Hispanic students. The share of nonwhite full-time faculty members grew from 14 percent to 24 percent over the same period. A bigger share of assistant professors than tenured professors are nonwhite (27 percent versus 19 percent). Between fall 1997 and fall 2017, the share of nonwhite assistant professors grew by 10 percentage points, according to Pew. Another study based on federal data published this summer also found no recent substantial growth in faculty diversity, especially at research-intensive institutions and in tenured positions.

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