Book by Katherine Grace Hendrix
Review by Lorneth Peters
TRiO Student Support Services Program
Austin Peay State University, Tennessee
The number of minority professors in higher education has increased steadily to 20% in 2004 compared to 15% in 1998 and 9% in 1990 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). Although there has been an increase in minority professors, Nettles, Perna and Bradburn (2000) noted that salaries and tenure status are lower among minorities.
In Neither White Nor Male, ten minority women share the challenges they face in higher education. Each story delves into the biases and inequalities women encounter on a daily basis. Lack of respect, classroom opposition, and blatant discrimination are all discussed in this quick read.
The content of this book, from the first to last pages, grabs the reader’s attention. In the first chapter, Fang-Yi Flora Wei, discussed the lack of respect shown to her by students in comparison to that shown male professors. For instance, she noted that students who easily addressed male professors as “Dr.” most often addressed her as “Mrs.”
While educators in the academy may have learned to accept inequalities and biases, discussions of Critical Race Theory (CRT) remind the reader that the fight is not over for equality within higher education. Working hard and going the extra mile in teaching is not enough. Verbalizing dissatisfaction with the hidden inequalities for minorities and women should be an on-going fight. Jones (2002) noted that Critical Race Theory, which began in the 1970s, focused on the impact of law on the relationships between blacks and whites. Since that time CRT has evolved and now examines issues related to other minority groups.
There are five elements associated with CRT including color and gender blindness as a state of denial within racial and gender discrimination. Today many colleagues comment on being color-blind. Yet, the first thing people often note when a person of color walks into a room is skin color. The same thing occurs when a faculty member of color enters a classroom on the first day of classes. It’s hard to solve a problem when people ignore its existence (p.27); we are not color-blind.
Authors discuss that female professors are usually more scrutinized by students than their male counterparts. Although women have come along way, they are still considered inferior in many academic circles. Personal experiences have shown that female professors of color are more apt to experience power struggles with white males than any other race. The authors discuss how a higher percentage of white males in a classroom can have a negative effect on the female teacher’s evaluations (p.39).
Editor Hendrix discussed her experiences with students of her same ethnicity; she pondered the notion that black students assume that their shared racial background entitles them to some special latitude (p.88). Personal experience has taught this reviewer that students who mirror my ethnicity also can make teaching difficult. Many students of color have tested the waters by missing an excessive number of days, coming to class late, and by not submitting assignments by due dates. When these students earn failing grades they wonder why.
This book is not only for women in higher education but for male educators. Every page tackles issues and discusses solutions we can all use. Advisors looking for a book to rekindle their passion for equality will find that this text fills that need.
Jones, B. D. (2002). Critical Race Theory: New Strategies for Civil Rights in the New Millennium? Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal, 18, p.1-90.
National Center for Education Statistics (2004). National study of postsecondary faculty: Percentage distribution of all full-time faculty and instructional staff, by race/ethnicity, institution type, and program area. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Nettles, M.T., Perna, L.W., and Bradburn, E.M. (2000). Salary, Promotion, and Tenure Status of Minority and Women Faculty in U.S. Colleges and Universities (NCES 2000-173).
Neither White Nor Male: Female Faculty of Color. (2007). Book by Katherine Grace Hendrix (Ed.) Review by Lorneth Peters. San Francisco: Wiley Periodicals. 120 pp., $29.00. ISBN 978-0-470-17686-3