Race and the Tenure Track: A Dashboard

I work in higher education, and a few days ago I saw the Chronicle of Higher Education interactive story “How Many Black Women Have Tenure on Your Campus?” Since I’ve done some data analysis with the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data Set, I thought I would reprise this idea focusing specifically on Assistant Professors on the tenure track, which is a good gauge for the future—it can take decades for an Assistant Professor to become a Full Professor through promotion, and these faculty apply for tenure usually between 4-6 years after starting as an Assistant Professor. I wanted to explore the pipeline. I gathered all the data available in IPEDS on non-profit (public or private, 2- or 4-year) institutions in the US relevant to total Assistant Professors on the tenure track; total Black or African American Assistant Professors on the tenure track; and total White Assistant Professors on the tenure track, which was from 2013-2019. I also gathered location information and institution size data.

I also recently read a poem by American poet and spoken word artist Danez Smith, which really resonated for me as a metaphor for systemic racism. One of the location map styles used a beautiful blue for the sea, and so I used that color as the basis for my color choice because of the content of the poem. In terms of font layout, I wanted a contrast between serifed and san-serifed fonts, so I chose the traditional Hoefler and the very modern Avenir Next Condensed. I included the entire text of the poem in the dashboard, and a background image that contains selected lines with very low transparency in the upper right.

The dashboard contains several worksheets, including a dot plot of sorts where size equates to the average percentage over 7 years of Black or African American faculty. This and the bar chart in the upper right are both synched to the map (but the map is not synched to them). The bar chart is divided by institution sector on the y axis and size on the x axis, with total number of faculty on average at these institutions. The numbers are notably low overall. There are four “big numbers” showing, on the one hand, the percentage change in White and Black Assistant Professors over the past 7 years, and on the other, in the most recent data, the percent of Black or African-American faculty at specific kinds of institutions. Then, I included a large map that allows the user to search and filter in multiple ways, including whether the institution is a PWI (Primarily White Institution). This is a calculated field testing for over 50% White. I closed in the lower right with information about the data and the poem.

Users can view the data in many different ways; the dot chart shows all institutions in the US (non-profit institutions that reported numbers of faculty, anyway). Hover over it to identify particular institutions. If you click on that institution, the bar chart and the map will focus on that type of institution. You can also do the same with the bar chart–it will refocus the dot plot and the map. Hovering over the big numbers will provide additional insights.

I was worried about clutter and visibility in different browsers, and I had to make it much smaller (which meant resizing many of the elements, as well). It feels pretty clean to me, but some of the text is very small. One other worry I had as I was developing the dashboard was whether the data was being presented in too positive a light, either through scale or color. However, the data becomes more revelatory as you dig.

Dashboard URL: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/tonya.howe/viz/IPEDS_Faculty_Race/RacetheTenureTrack2013-2019

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