Accurate perceptions race and gender in the university setting
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ACCURATE PERCEPTIONS: RACE AND GENDER IN THE UNIVERSITY SETTING . Alissa Kretzmann, Sarah Peters, Kelsey Gatza. Comments about Diversity at Valparaiso University (VU).

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Accurate perceptions race and gender in the university setting


Alissa Kretzmann, Sarah Peters, Kelsey Gatza

Comments about diversity at valparaiso university vu

Comments about Diversity at Valparaiso University (VU)

The Diversity and Inclusion Statement, as part of VU’s Vision Statement: Valparaiso University will be a diverse community, which includes and purposefully supports diversity in all aspects of university life and beyond.

“Please diversify!! That’s a big reason why people don’t come to campus.”

“I don’t think about issues of diversity very often.”

“Ideally, gender and racial representation would echo that of the general population of qualified people for the position.”

“I really do not care

about diversity.”

“People should be hired based on qualifications or merit, not gender or color.”

“Diversity is silly, emphasizing it just perpetuates race issues.”

“VU Diversity Rocks!”

“There is good diversity at Valpo!”

“Valpo is diverse internationally, but not domestically.”

Aim of this study

Aim of This Study

  • Analyze the relationship between the perceptions of Valparaiso University students about the racial and gender diversity of VU’s administration and faculty in comparison with their own racial and gender identity.

  • Compare the student estimates of diversity to the actual demographics of VU administration and faculty to determine if the students’ perceptions of diversity are accurate.

Diversity in the university setting

Diversity in the University Setting

  • Why Diversity?

    • Increased diversity in America

    • communities, employers and universities have had to address the diversity question

  • Progress

    • “In general, universities and colleges are far more diverse than three decades ago” (Conklin and Robbins-McNeish, 2006, p. 26).

    • “While the student population has become more diverse, the faculty remains predominately white and male” (Conklin and Robbins-McNeish, 2006, p. 26).

Why faculty and administration diversity matters

Why Faculty and Administration Diversity Matters

  • Comfort on Campus

    • Students feel comfort in places where their race/gender is represented

  • Representation

    • Administration and Faculty should mirror demographics of University student population

  • Role Modeling

    • Female/minority Administration and Faculty offer important role-modeling for female/minority students

  • Preparation

    • Students of all races and gender are better prepared for the world when they have diverse administration and faculty

Contributing factors

Contributing Factors

  • “Pipeline Problem”

  • Clustering of Minority Faculty and Administration

  • Short Term Solutions

    • “It is not enough to include value statements in the institution’s vision” (Page, 2003, p. 81).

    • Systematic changes must be made

Proposed study

Proposed Study

  • Inspiration and Significance to the Researchers

    • Our observations on campus

    • Our study abroad experiences

    • VU’s recent emphasis on diversity

    • VU’s changing definition of diversity

  • Confirmation of Study

    • Lee’s study

Research hypotheses

Research Hypotheses

  • Research Hypothesis:

    • There is a significant relationship between a student’s race or gender and the accuracy of their perception of diversity among VU administration and faculty.

  • Null Hypothesis:

    • There is not a significant relationship between a student’s race or gender and the accuracy of their perception of diversity among VU administration and faculty.



  • Setting: Valparaiso University Campus located in Valparaiso, Indiana.

  • Participants must be students at Valparaiso University.

  • Questionnaire was distributed at four different “peak” times in VU’s student union.

  • Questionnaire was also distributed to four different multicultural organizations.

    • Asian American Association (AAA)

    • Black Student Organization (BSO)

    • Latinos in Valparaiso for Excellence (LIVE)

    • Valparaiso International Student Association (VISA)

  • All questionnaires were kept confidential and anonymous.



  • Demographics

    • Gender

    • Race/Ethnicity

    • Year in School

    • Membership in a Multicultural Organization

  • Rate their satisfaction with diversity at VU and its attempts to diversify the campus community.

  • Estimate the percentages of the racial and gender makeup of the administration (Board of Directors, President, Provost, Managers, Administrative Deans, etc.) and full time faculty (professors) of VU.

  • Report their ideal racial and gender makeup of VU’s administration and faculty.

Demographics of our participants

Demographics of Our Participants

  • Sex

    • Females: 102 (53.4%)

    • Males: 88 (46.1%)

  • Year

    • Freshmen: 40 (20.9%)

    • Sophomores: 49 (25.7%)

    • Juniors: 65 (34.0%)

    • Seniors: 34 (17.8%)

    • 5th Year: 1 (.5%)

    • Graduate: 2 (1.0%)

  • Ethnicity/Race

    • White/Non-Hispanic: 159 (83.2%)

    • People of Color: 33 (16.2%)

      • Asian: 11 (5.8%)

      • Black: 8 (4.2%)

      • Hispanic: 11 (5.8%)

      • Native American: 1 (.5%)

      • Pacific Islander: 1 (.5%)

      • Other: 1 (.5%)

Accurate perceptions race and gender in the university setting

Findings: Comparison of Participant’s Estimates to the Actual Demographics of Faculty and Administration

**The actual numbers come from the Department of Institutional Advancement and are from November 2009.

Discussion of results

Discussion of Results

  • Fail to Reject Null Hypothesis: There was never a significant difference in mean estimates based on race or gender.

    • Percentage of VU Administrators: Persons of Color

    • Percentage of VU Administrators: Women

    • Percentage of Faculty: Persons of Color

    • Percentage of Faculty: Women

  • Patterns

    • There was a significant difference between all student group estimates and the actual percentage (exception: women faculty).



An interesting find

An Interesting Find…

  • In response to the statement, “Valparaiso University is a diverse community,” there was no significant difference between the responses of white participants and persons of color.

  • On average, all participants answered “neutral” in response to that statement.

Limitations of this study

Limitations of this Study

  • Limited sampling size of persons of color

  • Confusion about some questions on the questionnaire

  • Unwillingness to answer certain questions (especially on table)

  • Suggestions for future studies

    • Explore further aspects of diversity (i.e. religious diversity)

    • Improved Questionnaire

    • Larger Sample Size

Implications of this study

Implications of This Study

  • Our findings suggest that students generally overestimate the diversity of VU administration and faculty.

    • More consistency

  • VU should adhere to their hiring statement.

    • Students reported a desire for more diversity

  • When brought to people’s attention, interest is sparked in regards to administration and faculty diversity.



  • Conklin, W., & Robbins-McNeish, N. (2006). Four barriers to faculty diversity. Diversity Factor. pp. 26-33. Retrieved from 108bfc09-ee9c-4b01-95aa-1400416aea60%40sessionmgr14&vid=8

  • Eckes, S. E. (2005). Diversity in higher education: the consideration of race in hiring university faculty. Brigham Young University Education & Law Journal, (1), 33-51. Retrieved from

  • Lee, J. (2010). Students’ perceptions of and satisfaction with faculty diversity. College Student Journal, 44(2), 400-412. Retrieved from

  • Page, O. (2003). Promoting diversity in academic leadership. New Directions for Higher Education, (124), 79-86. Retrieved from

  • Status of ethnic and racial diversity in college and university administration. (2009). ASHE Higher Education Report, 35(3), 11-30. Retrieved from

  • Tapia, R. (2010). Broadening participation: hiring and developing minority faculty at research universities. Communications of the ACM, 53(3), 33-35. Retrieved from

  • Taylor, O., Apprey, C., Hill, G., McGrann, L., & Jianping, W. (2010). Diversifying the faculty. Peer Review, 12(3), 15-18. Retrieved from



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