Recent assaults on diversity initiatives have caused many Latinos in academia to become increasingly concerned about the future of their career paths. While there is still a dearth of Latino representation in leadership positions, it is slowly beginning to improve - however, much more work must be done.
In the United States, only 4% of full-time professors are Latino. To address this issue, 20 universities have taken strides towards improving these numbers by promising to double the number of Latino doctoral students and increasing the number of Latino professors by 20%. This pledge marks progress towards greater inclusivity and diversity in higher education, but some experts note that more must be done, especially early on in the pipeline.
Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, notes that if we want to see an increase in an equitable college professor workforce, we need to start at the beginning of the process. Schools and universities need to ensure students from diverse backgrounds have resources and support from their institutions to access and receive an equitable higher education. This could include encouraging high academic performance among Latino youth and providing them with scholarships, or expanding mentoring programs to help them gain the skills they need to succeed in their future endeavors.
Beyond the school level, more widespread policy changes will need to occur in order to truly promote diversity among college professors. This could mean introducing legislation that requires universities to maintain set goals for diversity, or incentivizing institutions to prioritize inclusion in order to spur progress.
Within the realm of academia, what’s clear is that there must be a systemic effort to increase the number of Latino professors. With the right combination of institutional, educational, and policy approaches, we can create a more equitable and diverse system where all students and professionals from different backgrounds feel respected, valued, and included within the academy.