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Hiring Practices of African American Males in Academic Leadership Positions at American Colleges and Universities: An Employment Trends and Disparate Impact Analysis


by Jerlando F. L. Jackson - 2006

This study examined the status of African American males in academic leadership positions at American colleges and universities in comparison with other males (e.g., Asian). Guided by disparate impact theory, descriptive trend analyses and impact ratios were computed using the 1993 and 1999 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF). These national-level data demonstrated that, although White males continue to hold the overwhelming majority of academic leadership positions, African American males have made modest advancements in upper level administrative positions at specific types of higher and postsecondary education institutions (e.g., 2-year and private institutions). More specifically, these results suggested that a disparate impact exists between the hiring of African American males and White males in academic leadership positions.

In most professions, males are highly represented in administrative positions while women struggle to increase their representation (Davies-Netzley, 1998; Powell & Butterfield, 1994). These patterns of employment have presented significant challenges for American colleges and universities (Harvey, 2003; Nettles & Perna, 1997). In turn, this phenomenon has prompted a generation of gender-focused studies on the representation and experiences of men and women administrators in higher and postsecondary education (Jackson, 2003a; Lindsay, 1994; Moore, 1983; Moore & Sagaria, 1982; Watson, 2001). For the most part, these research investigations have found that men hold higher level and more prestigious jobs, while women are generally found in entry-level positions (e.g., Konrad & Pfeffer, 1991). Such findings have led a number of researchers and social scientists to identify key factors affecting women administrators’ effort to reach parity (e.g., Kanter, 1977). Unfortunately, these initial inquiries have had little, if any, impact in advancing our understanding of differences by race/ethnicity because these scientific inquiries often fail to examine the intersection between gender and race/ethnicity.


Nonetheless, the gender-focused studies movement has led social scientists to examine similar questions with an emphasis on race/ethnicity. Many of these studies have indicated that, when considering race, White males are overrepresented compared with other racial groups. Although males of color (e.g., African American and Hispanic) were not as well represented as their White counterparts, they still outnumbered women of color (e.g., African American and Hispanic) in administrative positions (Mosley, 1980; Ramey, 1995; Wilson, 1989). Interestingly, the majority of the research that focused on administrators of color in higher and postsecondary education has directed its attention to women (Jackson, 2002). In a widely cited study, Wilson detailed with national-level data the trends and progress for women of color in academic administration in higher education. His study found that women of color were underrepresented at multiple stages (i.e., students and faculty) in higher education, which culminated in the underrepresentation in academic administrative positions.


During the period that preceded Wilson’s study and for some time afterward, African American women were significantly less represented than their African American male counterparts (Rusher, 1996). Presently, this is not the case—African American males’ participation in education (undergraduate, graduate, and faculty) has continued to decline since Wilson’s study. For example, in 1998, African American males held 47.2% of academic leadership positions, while African American females held 52.8%1 of these appointments. A similar trend emerged in student affairs administration—African American males, 45%, and African American females, 55% (Jackson, 2003b). Moreover, at the time of this writing, most of the gender-focused research on African American administrators in higher and post-secondary education focuses on women, with two exceptions (i.e., Ball, 1995; Jackson, 2003a). In sum, very little empirical or research-based knowledge is available on male administrators of color, specifically African American males.


To help fill this void in the research literature regarding the employment status of African American male administrators and their comparison with other males in the higher and postsecondary education administrative workforce, this study used data from the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to address the following research questions: (a) Did the representation of African American males in academic leadership positions compared with other males change between 1993 and 1999 in higher and post-secondary education? (b) Have these changes affected the representation of African American males compared with other males in lower level (e.g., director) and upper level2 (e.g., academic dean) leadership positions in higher and postsecondary education? (c) Has this representation changed at the various types of higher and postsecondary education institutions? and (d) To what extent do these employment trends support or refute that the hiring practices of African American and other males of color in academic leadership positions have an adverse impact on their selection? In brief, the NSOPF surveys are a nationally representative sample of higher and post-secondary education institutions and faculty (including academic leadership positions) employed at American colleges and universities and thus present a rich resource for examining national trends in the representation of African American males vis-a-vis other males in academic leadership positions.


DISPARATE IMPACT THEORY


A study that examines hiring practices has at its core notions of equal employment opportunity without discrimination (Johnsrud & Des Jarlais, 1994). Undoubtedly, all employers use procedures to screen and eliminate applicants from the pool for consideration. For the most part, these procedures are based on subjective (e.g., perceptions of fit and compatibility) and objective (e.g., tests, interviews, and education requirements) criteria. Generally, these criteria should be linked to the applicant’s ability to perform the proposed job responsibilities. In turn, the hiring practices in higher and postsecondary education are not easy to characterize and bear a great deal of similarity to what has been referred to as the “black box mush.” The “black box mush” is a decision-making process in which the employer subjectively combines several employment practices, thus making the identification of a particular employment practice impossible (Pattison & Philip, 1991). Unfortunately, all criteria used to make decisions about who obtains positions in higher and postsecondary education are not clearly linked to measures that are good predictors of employee performance (Sagaria, 1988, 2002). Accordingly, in some cases, the selection process disproportionately excludes certain groups (e.g., race/ethnicity and gender). These results, intended or not, are deemed unlawful employment practices under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Kaplin & Lee, 1995).


Title VII litigation has led to the development of disparate impact theory, which is based on statistical proof of the discriminatory effects of employment practices (Shoben, 1980, 2004). The Supreme Court first noted that the purpose of Title VII was to remove unnecessary barriers that inadvertently discriminated on the basis of impermissible classifications in Grigg v. Duke Power Co. In 1971, the Supreme Court held that facially neutral employment practices may be included under Title VII if they led to the disproportionate representation of individuals based on race/ethnicity or gender (Shoben, 1977a). Thus, a discriminatory effect within a disparate impact case stems from what is referred to as facially neutral policy. This simply means that there was no intent to discriminate built into the policy, but the implementation of the policy has a discriminatory effect on individuals based on race/ethnicity or gender.


As mentioned earlier, disparate impact cases are based on statistical data that show to what extent the implemented neutral policy has impacted or would negatively impact a particular demographic group (e.g., race/ethnic and gender) (Shoben, 2004). The results of this negative impact are referred to as adverse impact. Adverse impact is a substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion, or other employment decisions that may disadvantage members of a particular racial, ethnic, or gender group (Shoben, 1977b, 1980). In general, a selection rate for any group that is less than 80% is deemed adverse impact (more detail is provided in Method section).


Disparate impact analysis is not a heavily used theory of discrimination (Perez, 2004); therefore, many questions remain unanswered. For instance, how can disparate impact theory be used to help institutions of higher and postsecondary education prevent adverse impact on protected groups in academic leadership positions? Disparate impact theory has not been applied to higher education often, but it shows great promise for addressing discrimination and inequities in the workplace (Perez).


Perez (2004) argued that disparate impact theory is a viable compromise between advocates of diversity and race-neutral-based decisions. Building on the logic of Perez, the following are reasons for applying disparate impact theory to higher education. First, it is necessary that diversity advocates develop an alternative to affirmative action in an anti-affirmative action era. Second, a window of opportunity exists for the use of disparate impact theory through administrative action under the Department of Education regulations implementing Title VII. Third, although the documentation of intentional racial discrimination in higher and postsecondary education has decreased, racial/ethnicity and gender are still relevant factors in admissions and employment practices.


To the extent that hiring practices have an adverse impact on people of color in academic leadership positions, they are still disqualified unfairly because of their racial phenotype. In accordance, disparate impact analyses have the potential to force American colleges and universities to use facially neutral criteria that are representative of applicants’ merit (Perez, 2004). Therefore, hiring practices that withstand disparate impact analysis will select a diverse group of academic leaders while remaining facially neutral. American colleges and universities are in a good position, if not the best, to adjust their hiring practices to eliminate discriminatory effects in academic leadership positions. Stated differently, disparate impact analysis could properly impose upon such institutions a duty to create the least discriminatory hiring practices (Perez).


METHOD


DATA SOURCE


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) surveys by collecting three waves of data for the following academic years: 1987-1988; 1992-1993; and 1998-1999.3 Data from 1992-1993 and 1998-19994 were analyzed in this study to examine changes over time and adverse impact in the representation of African American males in academic leadership positions in comparison with other males holding similar positions. NSOPF was conducted to address the need for national-level data on college faculty and instructors, those who directly affect the quality of teaching and learning at American postsecondary institutions (National Center for Education Statistics, 2002).


In 1987-1988, the first cycle of NSOPF was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 480 institutions (including 2-year, 4-year, doctorate-granting, and other colleges and universities), and responses were included from over 3,000 department chairpersons and more than 11,000 instructional faculty. The response rates for the three surveys were 88%, 80%, and 76%, for 1987-1988, 1992-1993, and 1998-1999, respectively. The 1992-1993 study (NSOPF: 93) was limited to surveys of institutions and faculty, eliminating the department chair survey, but a substantially expanded sample of 974 public and private not-for-profit degree-granting institutions had response rates of 94% and 84%, respectively.


The third cycle of data collection took place during the 1998-1999 academic year, which included 960 degree-granting postsecondary institutions and an initial sample of 31,354 faculty and instructional staff. Approximately 28,600 faculty and instructional staff were sent a questionnaire. Subsequently, a subsample of 19,813 faculty and instructional staff was drawn for additional survey follow-up. Approximately 18,000 faculty and instructional staff questionnaires were completed for a weighted response rate of 83%. The response rate for the institution survey was 93%. The weighted responses represent the national estimates for 1993 (1,033,966) and 1999 (957,767). All three cycles of NSOPF gathered information regarding the backgrounds, responsibilities, workloads, salaries, benefits, attitudes, and future plans for both full- and part-time faculty. In addition, information was gathered from institutional and department-level respondents (department-level data collected in 1988 only) on such issues as faculty composition, turnover, recruitment, retention, and tenure policies (National Center for Education Statistics, 2002).


MEASURES


Unlike NSOPF: 88, which was limited to faculty whose assignment included instruction, the faculty sampling frames for NSOPF: 93 and NSOPF: 99 were expanded to include all those who were designated as faculty, regardless of whether their responsibilities included instruction, and other (nonfaculty) personnel with instructional responsibilities. Under this definition, researchers, administrators, and other institutional professionals who held faculty positions but who did not teach were included in the samples. Instructional staff without faculty status were also included. Teaching assistants were not included in any cycle of NSOPF.


In brief, the NSOPF data sets contained numerous variables measuring principal activities for faculty in a variety of roles. For example, faculty could select four main areas as their principal activities: (a) teaching, (b) research, (c) administration, and (d) other. For instance, faculty who selected teaching as their principal activity tended to represent the traditional profile of a mix between teaching, research, service, and outreach. Therefore, in this study, a defining characteristic is that faculty identified themselves as taking on a significant role in the academic leadership of their institutions. Accordingly, this study focused on the variables contained in each data set that measured academic leadership positions. Within the four main areas (i.e., teaching, research, administration, and other), individual positions could be identified as well. Examples of these individual positions are chair, dean, provost, and vice president. In turn, distinctions could be made for specific positions or clusters of related positions.


These data sets also included important information about the institution at which the faculty member was employed (e.g., institutional type and Carnegie classification). These measures were used to determine if the trends in African American males’ representation in academic leadership positions varied by institutional characteristics in comparison with other male counterparts (e.g., Whites). The sample of academic leadership positions used in the present study included faculty from public/private and 2/4-year institutions. Part-time faculty members were excluded because they were less prevalent holders of academic leadership positions than were full-time faculty. The estimated means and populations presented in the findings section were calculated taking into account the sampling weights and stratification schema in each of the NSOPF surveys (National Center for Education Statistics, 2002).


PROCEDURES


Educational agencies and social scientists have a long tradition of monitoring trends in employment status and institutional factors that contribute to the knowledge of policy makers. Trends in observed rates of employment by race and ethnicity provide invaluable information for needs assessment, program planning and evaluation, and policy development activities. Examining data over time also permits making predictions about future possibilities for modifying and improving employment trends for specific underrepresented groups. As a cautionary note to the reader, when the numbers get smaller, such as focusing on underrepresented groups, there is a potential for Type I error in reporting. In turn, although this study uses national estimates, it is inescapable that confidence in the accuracy is reduced. In sum, when considering the overall usefulness of these findings, exercise caution in regard to strict interpretations.


To examine trends across these data, percent change was calculated for ethnic/racial groups at all institutions and specific types of institutions. Because these data were cross-sectional in nature, a formula was used to calculate the change in percent from 1993 to 1999. Precedents for using percent change to measure change over time for employment status in higher and postsecondary education can be found in other empirical studies (e.g., Flowers & Jones, 2003; Gaston, 2003; Harvey, 2003). The percent change formula used for this study is displayed below:


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In an effort to begin a discourse on whether disparate impact exists within the male population of academic leadership positions in higher and post-secondary education, exploratory data are presented. Accordingly, to determine if disparate impact exists, a measure of adverse impact is necessary (Shoben, 1979). There are several methods of measuring adverse impact. One method is the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Criteria, which finds an adverse impact if members of a protected class are selected at a rate less than 4/5, or 80%, of that of another group. To compute these impact ratios, a comparison is made of the selection rate of each group with that of the highest group. For example, if the hiring rate for White males is 70% and the rate for African American males is 30%, the comparison would be as follows: 30/70 = 42.9%. To interpret these results, the rule of thumb considers a selection rate for any racial/ethnic and gender group, which is less than 4/5, or 80%. In turn, this is suggestive of adverse impact and supports the notion of disparate impact theory (Shoben, 1979).


Of critical importance in disparate impact analysis is defining the population. More often than not, disparate impact analysis is based on a sample because population-level data are not available. In such cases, researchers (e.g., Elaine Shoben and Richard Cohn) have developed techniques to work with sample data. However, if population data are available, as is the case with this study, no further inferential analyses are needed because the legally relevant impact is defined in terms of the population (Shoben, 1977). Two outcomes are possible if population-level data are used for an analysis of the male population within academic leadership positions in higher and postsecondary education. First, there might be no difference in the proportion of the groups hired into these positions, thus the proportion of the White males securing these positions minus the proportion of African American males or the other ethnic/racial groups in these positions will equal zero: PW(pop) - Paa(pop) = 0. Second, if either group is hired at a higher rate than the other, the difference between the proportions would not equal zero: Pw(pop) - Paa(pop) 0. Conclusions about the discriminatory effect of the hiring process may be made directly on the basis of differences in population selection rates because these data represent all those who held those positions at the time of data collection.


FINDINGS


The following section describes the changes in representation for African American males in academic leadership positions in relation to the remaining male population. In addition, impact ratios that measure adverse impact between each ethnic/racial group compared with White males are provided. In general, the share of full-time academic leadership positions held by men has decreased 0.38% between 1993 and 1999 (see Table 1). In 1993, the employment ratio between men and women in academic leadership positions was approximately 2:1 in favor of men. Nonetheless, females in full-time academic leadership positions increased 8.18% between 1993 and 1999. The overall representation of men in academic leadership positions varied by institutional type. Although the impact ratios demonstrated adverse impact on women for both 1993 and 1999, the degree of adverse impact did decrease between data collection periods.


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TRENDS ACROSS ALL INSTITUTIONS


Even with an 11.22% decrease in African American male participation in academic leadership positions, as a group, African American males remained the second largest group next to White males (see Table 2). Even though Hispanic males in academic leadership positions decreased 7.87% between 1993 and 1999, they still were the third largest group. The 14.64% decrease experienced by Asians moved their overall representation to the lowest of all groups between 1993 and 1999. African American males’ representation in upper level positions increased 21.07%, while the largest increase was experienced by Hispanic males (57.39%). Asian males decreased 28.80%, causing them to move from the third largest group to the fourth. White males’ representation in upper level positions increased by 3.76%. The impact ratios for all ethnic/racial groups, compared with White males located in upper and lower level positions, suggested severe adverse impact.


All groups experienced a decrease in representation in lower level leadership positions. Although African American males’ representation decreased 37.47%, they continued to be the second largest group. Both Hispanic and Asian males in lower level leadership positions were equally distributed in terms of raw numbers in 1993. Hispanic males’ representation decreased 23.60%, and Asian males decreased 3.67%. This resulted in Asian males becoming the third largest group and Hispanic males the fourth largest group. White males’ representation decreased 0.82% in lower level positions between 1993 and 1999.


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TWO-YEAR INSTITUTIONS


The presence of African American males at 2-year institutions increased 29.14% between 1993 and 1999, a total of 1,461 academic leadership positions (see Table 3). Even with this gain, African American males were significantly outnumbered by White males in 1999 (n = 12,238). During the time frame of data collection, White males in academic leadership positions decreased 13.66%. Hispanic males in academic leadership positions experienced a minor (2.83%) decrease at 2-year institutions. Meanwhile, Asian males significantly decreased 68.04% between 1993 and 1999. In terms of upper level positions, White males continued to hold a controlling interest of these positions. Still, two groups made significant gains in upper level positions between 1993 and 1999. First, Hispanic males holding upper level positions at 2-year institutions increased 512.04%.5 Second, African American males increased 197%, while Asian males in upper level positions decreased 60.51%. As a whole, males holding lower level positions decreased. White males experienced the smallest decline (2.51%). Subsequently, African American males decreased 25.88%, and Hispanic males decreased 68.98%. Sample size was too small for Asian males to provide an estimate.


FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTIONS


Overall, African American males’ representation in academic leadership positions at 4-year institutions decreased 13.60%. Nonetheless, they were still the second largest group next to White males. Likewise, Asian males’ overall representation decreased—12.37% between 1993 and 1999. In contrast, Hispanic males’ representation increased 18.73% in academic leadership positions at 4-year institutions. However, they still remained the group with the lowest representation. In upper level positions, African American males experienced a small increase of 5.65%, and White males experienced a 4.19% increase. Hispanic males in upper level positions at 4-year institutions realized a modest increase of 27.30%. Nevertheless, Asian males were the only group to experience a decline in representation (32.04%). In lower level positions, Asian males increased 1.92%, thus making this group the second largest next to White males. African American males experienced a sizable decline resulting in a 34.37% decrease in representation. Hispanic males increased slightly in their representation in lower level positions at 4-year institutions (0.63%). When comparing White males with the other male groups, the impact ratios in both upper and lower level positions at 2- and 4-year institutions suggest adverse impact.


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PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS


At public institutions, White males were the only group to realize a small gain in representation in academic leadership positions (see Table 4). In all academic leadership positions, African American males’ representation decreased 29.58%. Both Hispanic and Asian males realized modest declines, 12.09% and 10.81% respectively. In upper level positions, all groups experienced a decline except Hispanic males, who experienced a 30.49% increase. African American males in upper level positions at public institutions declined 15%. Although Asian males experienced a slightly higher decrease of 16.09%, White males’ representation in upper level positions had the smallest decline (0.17%). In lower level positions, all groups experienced a decline except White males, who experienced a 5.15% increase. Both African American and Hispanic males registered sizable decreases—39.76% and 37.25% respectively—but Asian males in lower level positions at public institutions declined 9.32%.


PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS


At private institutions, African American males experienced significant gains between 1993 and 1999 that equaled 45.94% in academic leadership positions. However, gains for Hispanic males exceeded those by African American males, with a 52.91% increase. Although Asian males’ representation decreased 28.35% between 1993 and 1999, the representation of White males at private institutions dropped 3.04%. As it relates to upper level positions, the group that increased most significantly between 1993 and 1999 was African American males, with a 78.16% increase. Additionally, Hispanic males’ representation in upper level positions increased significantly (53.73%). In contrast, Asian males in upper level positions decreased 59.56% at private institutions. The representation of White males in upper level positions decreased 5.49%. African American and White males were the only two groups to experience a decrease in lower level positions, 22.94% and 1.32%, respectively. At the same time, the representation of Hispanic males increased 46.79%. Finally, Asian males in lower level positions experienced a 22.39% increase in representation. The results of the impact ratios for public and private institutions support adverse impact between African American and other males of color with White males.


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CARNEGIE CLASSIFICATION


An examination of change over time for the representation of males in academic leadership positions showed a great deal of variation using the Carnegie classification of institutions (see Table 5). First, African American males’ representation in these key positions demonstrated an overall decrease except on a few occasions. At doctoral institutions, African American males increased 22.19% in upper level positions. Additionally, African American males’ representation at liberal arts institutions increased 20.28% overall and 136.65% in upper level positions. Hispanic males in academic leadership positions realized several increases between 1993 and 1999. The largest increase occurred at research institutions: an overall increase of 140.97%, with 2.03% in upper level positions and 307.64% in lower level positions. At comprehensive institutions, Hispanic males in academic leadership positions increased 29.25% overall and 79.04% in upper level positions.


The representation of Asian males in academic leadership positions increased at the following Carnegie classification type institutions: research (24.28% in lower level); doctoral (14.93% overall and 25.49% lower level); and comprehensive (32.89% overall, 12.47% upper level, and 177.92% lower level). White males’ representation in academic leadership positions increased at two types of institutions: research and liberal arts. At research institutions, overall the representation increased 9.19%, with 15.16% in upper level positions and 4.80% in lower level positions. At liberal arts institutions, White males’ representation increased 39.90% overall, 22.09% in upper level positions and 61.05% in lower level positions. The impact ratios comparing African American males and other males of color with White males using Carnegie classification suggest adverse impact.


In examining the ethnic/racial composition of American college presidents, not much variation occurred between 1996 and 1999 for males. The American Council on Education (ACE) did not start collecting ethnic and racial data until 1996; therefore, data could not be obtained for 1993. During this time frame, African American males’ representation decreased 7.48% (see Table 6). Representation of Hispanic males increased 23.53% in the position of college president. Asian males experienced a 19.6% decrease as American college presidents, while the largest group overall, White males, increased its representation 11.06% between 1996 and 1999. The impact ratios for American college presidents support adverse impact between African American males and other males of color with White males in these key positions.


DISCUSSION


Data reported in this study provided much-needed and important information about the representation of males in academic leadership positions in higher education, with a particular emphasis on African American males. The findings section unpacks the ethnic/racial representation of these positions to provide baseline data for comparisons of future progress. Overall, the proportional representation of African American males in academic leadership positions declined between 1993 and 1999. In conjunction, analyses of adverse impact for employment trends comparing White males against all other ethnic and racial categories support the notion of disparate impact.


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The following are noteworthy findings regarding several trends for African American males in academic leadership positions. First, the representation of African American males in 2-year institutions increased significantly in upper level positions (dean’s level and above). Second, although the representation of African American males in academic leadership positions generally declined at 4-year institutions, a slight increase in upper level positions occurred. Third, the representation of African American males declined moderately in academic leadership positions at all levels (i.e., overall, upper level positions, and lower level positions) at public institutions. Fourth, African American males experienced a significant increase in upper level positions at private institutions. Fifth, African American males increased their presence significantly in upper level positions at liberal arts institutions, while their participation rates generally declined at research and comprehensive institutions. Sixth, during the time frame of data collection, African American males in upper level positions moderately increased at doctoral institutions. Seventh, the impact ratios for comparing African American males and other males of color with White males at all levels suggest that severe adverse impact exists in the hiring practices for academic leadership positions in higher education.


Although data to potentially explain these shifts in representation could not be included in the trend analyses, several speculations are advanced here. The decrease in Asian and White males in key academic leadership positions at various institutional types seemed to provide opportunity for African American and Hispanic males to fill these positions. These trends may simply be capturing the movement of academic leaders between institutional types. Moreover, these shifts in trends could be reflective of growth in academic leadership positions occupied by women. Additionally, these indicators of progress may be reflective of the decline of available positions between 1993 and 1999 as evidenced by the employment counts, which will result in increases in percentage distribution.


CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS


In conclusion, the aim of this study was, in part, to examine the employment trends of African American males in academic leadership positions in higher and postsecondary education in comparison with their male counterparts. Although these findings are illuminating, they provide a mere snapshot of this complex topic. Although national data were used to perform this study, trend analyses merely describe the shifts in employment practices and do not explain why these shifts are occurring. Still, these findings do provide basic fundamental empirical data that describe the employment status of males in academic leadership positions in higher education.


Many of the results based on these trend analyses resonate with research on people of color in higher education. White males tend to far outnumber other groups (e.g., gender and race) in policy development and implementation positions. For the most part, people of color are concentrated in 2-year institutions (as opposed to 4-year institutions). Most, although not all, people of color tend to hold lower level positions. In addition, people of color are more likely to be employed at less prestigious institutions.


There are no straightforward implications for increasing the number of African American males in academic leadership positions—no doubt, gender and racial inequity in academic leadership positions and in the most senior level positions will continue to persist. Yet, many will argue that strategic decisions to improve administrative diversity are not needed and that hard work in this merit-based system will ultimately provide the much-sought-after equity. Data from this study do not support this argument. In light of disparate impact theory, one could speculate that the design of present hiring practices within higher education for academic leadership positions creates serious disparities among those selected to serve in academic leadership positions. Further, these results suggest that additional analysis of the workforce is necessary to understand the significant adverse impact that does exist.


At minimum, individual institutions of higher and postsecondary education that value diversity in leadership and decision-making positions should undertake an employment systems analysis. An employment systems analysis is an examination of human resources policies and practices, formal and informal, that impact protected groups (e.g., race/ethnic and gender; Byrkjeflot & Fligstein, 1996). These analyses also include an examination of reasonable accommodations for the special needs of these designated groups to ensure full participation within the targeted workforce. An employment system analysis is normally undertaken after a workforce analysis has identified underrepresentation of a particular group (Byrkjeflot & Fligstein). Clearly, the results of this study suggest that institutions of higher education may want to consider adopting the tenets of employment systems analysis to help remedy the disparate impact that seemingly exists within academic leadership positions among the male population.


Although it is understood that very few frameworks are available for colleges and universities to address issues of administrative diversity, previous research (e.g., Jackson, 2001, 2002) does provide some guidance for addressing important issues concerned with the hiring practices for administrators of color. More specifically, institutions could implement components of the engagement, retention, and advancement (ERA) model to assist with the hiring and retention of African American males and other people of color (see Figure 1) (Jackson, 2004). In short, the ERA model delineates the hiring and retention process for administrators of color in at least four phases: (a) preengagement, (b) engagement, (c) advancement, and (d) outcomes.


Two Delphi studies (e.g., Jackson, 2001, 2002) provided the preliminary grounding for the ERA model (see Jackson, 2004, for more detail about the development of the model). This model represents an initial attempt to consolidate previous research to successfully recruit and retain administrators of color. Two concepts were deemed critical to the implementation of this model. First, the college or university had to establish a relationship with the racial/ ethnic community surrounding the institution. Second, the college or university as a whole had to commit to the principles of diversity or affirmative action.


Preengagement occurs prior to the candidate’s arrival on campus. Within this phase, recruitment is used as a retention tool. The relationship that the institution develops with the candidate during the hiring process determines how the candidate views the institution. In addition, the institution should develop an orientation process that provides information to the candidate not only about the campus but also the surrounding community. Moreover, the institution should use this opportunity to demonstrate the value of the candidate by offering a competitive incentives package.


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Engagement occurs when the candidate assumes the official responsibilities of his or her position. A key component of this phase is the empowerment of the candidate, which simply provides the administrator the power and authority to give direction and leadership to the operating unit. The second component encourages the institution to provide appropriate leadership opportunities for the administrator. In addition, a formal mentoring program would ensure one-on-one leadership guidance. Finally, in-service professional development training would offer context-specific knowledge to help the administrator understand and fit within the institutional culture.


The advancement phase focuses on providing professional growth for the administrator. In support of advancement, professional release time is provided to permit the administrator to engage in activities that would contribute directly to his or her professional growth. Concurrently, the institution should provide funding to support these activities. The final aspect of this phase is to ensure that the administrator is involved in non-diversity-related operations of the institution.


The proposed outcomes of the ERA model are retention and career advancement. Retention within this model refers to equally maintaining the administrator in his or her position in comparison with his or her White counterparts at the same institution. Whereas retention in the same institution is an isolated outcome, career advancement offers benefit to higher and postsecondary education in general. Career advancement entails promotion within or outside the home institution, with the ultimate goal of retention in the field of administration. These two outcomes conjointly seek to improve the status of minority participation in the administration of higher and postsecondary institutions in the United States.


FUTURE RESEARCH


The findings from this study have raised important questions for future inquiries. First, do the employment trends for male academic leaders hold true for other administrative groups in higher education? Namely, to what degree does symmetry exist between the employment trends in academic leadership positions and those in general university administration (e.g., financial affairs)? Second, how do these trends for African American males compare with their female counterparts? Does the higher representation6 of African American women in academic leadership positions hold true across all institutional types? Third, a study could compare employment trends for African American males in academic leadership positions with their African American male counterparts in other sectors (e.g., business and hospital administration). Fourth, qualitative inquiries could examine why African American males participate less in academic leadership positions and uncover why these trends are occurring. Fifth, an employment system analysis may lead to a set of hiring practices within academic leadership positions that do not produce an adverse impact on African American males and other males of color.


References


Ball, P. (1995). African American male library administrators in public and academic libraries. College and Research Libraries, 56, 531-545.


Byrkjeflot, H., & Fligstein, N. (1996). The logic of employment systems. In J. Baron, D. Grusk, & D. Treiman (Eds.), Social differentiation and social inequity (pp. 11-37). Boulder, CO: West-view Press.


Davies-Netzley, S. A. (1998). Women above the glass ceiling: Perceptions on corporate mobility and strategies for success. Gender and Society, 12, 339-355.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 2, 2006, p. 316-338
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12312, Date Accessed: 10/27/2021 12:32:14 PM

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About the Author
  • Jerlando Jackson
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
    E-mail Author
    JERLANDO F. L. JACKSON is assistant professor of higher and postsecondary education at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
 
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