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Racism, Sexism Persist on U.S. College Campuses, Study Finds

Racism, Sexism Persist on U.S. College Campuses, Study FindsCOLUMBIA, Mo.
A new study shows large numbers of female and minority faculty experience a particularly challenging and sometimes hostile campus climate, even as universities across the United States seek to create an academic environment free of such hindrances as racism and sexism. “We found that the lack of accountability and responsibility throughout the university hinders the achievement of an equitable climate for all,” says Jennifer Hart, assistant professor of education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who used the University of Arizona as the focus of the study. “This campus climate is defined as the current perceptions, attitudes and expectations that define the institution and its members.”Hart was a member of a team that interviewed 274 faculty members using an open-ended interview questionnaire, which provided the faculty a chance to express their views in detail. The participants represented all 15 of the university’s colleges and professional schools, with 214 women and 59 men. The researchers found that when faculty were asked how they perceived the treatment of women, more than 90 percent of the male faculty said that women were treated fairly, but only 57 percent of the female faculty believed the same. Also, while 87 percent of the White faculty believed minority faculty were treated fairly, only 56 percent of minority faculty felt the same. Hart noted that almost all the faculty believed that the lesbian/gay/bisexual faculty were even less likely to be treated fairly at the university than the female faculty.The research team also looked at subtle discrimination among the faculty members. Subtle discrimination, the study said, involves unconscious sexism, often expressed by making off-handed remarks, ignoring the ideas of some groups, and expecting women to take on the role of nurturer and other stereotypical gender roles. They found that 46 percent of the women faculty indicated that subtle discrimination was a source of stress and that nearly half of all minority faculty reported experiencing the same stress. 

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