The Status of Women in the Historical Profession, 2005
Chapter 2: Formal Equality
Minority Women in the Profession
The low representation of minorities in the history profession has been a topic of concern for some time and in circles larger than ours, and clearly stems from factors more complex than job placement policies and job satisfaction alone.7 As noted above, 32 survey responses9 percent of the totalcame from women who identified themselves as ethnic minorities, and over a third of those remarked on their experiences as minorities as well as their experiences as women. The consensus among those mentioning their minority status was that many problems facing women in academiadiscrimination, chilly climate, lack of mentorship, heavy service loadsare compounded for minorities, and that less progress has been made on these fronts for minority women than for white women. One African American woman, upon earning her Ph.D. in 1995, wrote that she "entered an all-white, male-over-50 department that made it no secret that they greatly resented my presence in the department. This treatment has ranged from the lack of support in salary negotiations" to being the target of blatantly racist comments. Other minority respondents report being subjected to all manner of slights. One noted she was told "by a white faculty member to 'show identification' when I tried to enter my own classroom." Another complained it took those in her department "about a year to figure out that I actually teach in the department and do not clean" it.
These and other similar comments testify to the intense pressure under which
many minority women faculty labor. Charged with mentoring minority undergraduates,
and pressed into overwhelming service commitments, a number of respondents
report feeling lonely and isolated as well as overburdened by teaching and
service with little time for scholarship. Women of color "are expected
to serve on every 'diversity' committee" and "have
more student problems to deal with," noted one. Another, with an exemplary
record of teaching and service, was repeatedly passed over for recognitions
that flowed easily to male colleagues. A chair "who was willing to impose
his will" obtained a significant salary increase for one underpaid respondent,
pointing to the importance of chairs in establishing race and gender equity
as common practice in departments.