human welfare and social justice and to promote equitable and just treatment of all segments of society through education, training, and public policy. Within PI, the Women’s Programs Office, the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, and the Minority Fellowship Program Office house the majority of APA programming focused on women of color in academia.
Education and Employment Data on Women of Color
APA’s Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) is focused on collecting data on the pipeline and workforce in psychology and describing the field according to gender, race/ethnicity, age, employment activities and settings, and other relevant dimensions. We examined member profiles for 1987, 1995, 2003, and 2011. Over time, the proportion of women of color at Member and Fellow levels has increased. Particularly at the higher membership status of Fellow, women of color increased both in numbers (14 in 1987 vs. 149 in 2011) and percentage (1.3 percent in 1987 vs. 3.5 percent in 2009).
The biennial CWS Doctorate Employment Survey targets all recent doctorate recipients in psychology. We examined survey results from 1986 to 2009 (see Table 1 in the Appendix). In 1986, there were 123 (5 percent) women of color in the sample. In 2009, this number increased to 225 (18 percent). Between 1986 and 2009, there was an overall decline in full-time employment and an increase in part-time employment and post-doctoral fellowships, which is partly due to changes in the survey, as well as reflective of a general trend. This trend held true for women of color, who reported employment status at the same rates as the total sample (i.e., 90 percent in 1986 and 68 percent in 2009).
The annual Psychology Faculty Salary Survey targets graduate psychology departments. Although the survey focuses on salary, it also includes information on rank and tenure. We examined survey results from the 1987-88 and 2010-11 academic years (see Table 2 in the Appendix). In 1987-88, 138 (2 percent) full-time faculty were women of color. In 2010-11, 576 (8 percent) full-time faculty were women of color. Women of color had the highest percentage of tenure-track positions but also the lowest percentage of tenured positions at each survey. There were more women of color in lower ranks (associate and assistant professor) than in higher ranks.
Challenges or Barriers Experienced by Women of Color in their Education and Professional Career Pathways
To more closely investigate the challenges and barriers faced by women of color in academia in their education and professional career pathways, we surveyed graduates of APA’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP). One respondent, now a faculty member at a university in the US, captures a common theme: “They (women of color) are celebrated as evidence of diversity in academia, but not protected in a way that will allow them to be successful in the long run.” Other challenges and barriers mentioned included: isolation and exclusion; tokenism; lack of mentors, role models or support; work-life balance; student loan debt; unreasonable service expectations; course assignment segregation; and overt and implicit bias. These anecdotal responses mirror what we know from the literature (American Psychological Association, 1998; Kawahara & Bejarano, 2009; LaFromboise & Marquez, in press; Miles-Cohen, Twose, Houston, & Keita, 2009; Syed & Chemers 2011).