Day: February 5, 2021

Reader Question: Disillusioned by Lack of Diversity

Dear xykademiqz,
I’m reaching out as I’m not sure where to turn and the anonymity of the blogosphere may be helpful here.
I’m an assistant professor who was trained in a field with pretty equal gender representation up until the postdoctoral level and studied in a pretty racially diverse city. I’ve moved to a field where diversity is dismal and the city is extremely segregated. My department has minimal gender and near non-existent racial diversity; further, age- and tenure-wise we lean extremely senior.
As a junior, non-homogenous hire, I’ve been thrown on the new diversity committee that was formed after the obligatory formation of said-committees throughout the US after the events of his past summer (on top of ~4 other committees). Since the formation, we haven’t done too much action, as there’s been ridiculous number of fires to put out. One event had to deal with comments of someone with tangential relation to the department sharing that not everyone is equally capable of performing STEM… and no action has been taken by the department for a while to address this. Students know about this. Staff. Faculty. And the response is crickets. People continue to collaborate with said someone. It might be “too political” to make a statement otherwise.
My question is two-fold: first, long-term, these are the people who will be voting on my tenure. How can I trust a fair judgement? Second, every time this committee meets I feel worse about the world and my colleagues. Should I quit the committee?
Yet, my friends say I should be “proud I’m changing the face of my field.” Students tell me that I’m the first professor that is like them. But really I’m tired. The face should already be changed. Academia feels so far behind and moves so slow. But is my department moving slower than others? Or is it this bad everywhere?
(Also, I should be writing a paper, grant, etc. instead I’m dealing with this. *sigh* The joys of my white, straight, male colleagues. Must be nice.)
TLDR – How do I just not throw in the towel in with all the sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. in STEM. I’m sick of being the token committee member and dealing with the BS.
– AsstProfLyfe
Academic blogosphere, what say you?