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Disaggregation and Privilege

I'm off to Hawaii and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) annual meeting. Now I admit the title of my presentation, "Changes in PhDs Awarded in STEM and New Enrollees in STEM Graduate Programs by Gender and Race", isn't very exciting but the results remind us how badly we need data that are broken by sex by race/ethnicity. Results are often very different between white and African American women or between Hispanic women and men. But if data are only reported for women and men without looking at their race/ethnicity we will never know.

And there are many things that we won't know about graduate education because while the Council of Graduate Schools PhD Completion Project breaks out student data by race/ethnicity and by sex ; it does not break out race/ethnicity data by sex. Even worse, the National Research Council Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs breaks out student data by race/ethnicity, but does not even collect student data by sex.

It was the loss of potentially key information that was bothering me here but after reading the following from Thus Spoke Zuska I realized that I was missing the bigger picture

" …there are times of the day when my privilege makes me forget about racism and homophobia and religious discrimination, and a whole host of other isms I'm not even thinking of right now. Because sometimes I am just sick to death of thinking about gender, and I can't seem to unknow that perspective on the world anymore. I can still slip out of the others if I'm not careful, which, I must admit, is restful at times.

That's what's so very, very cozy about privilege. It's not disturbing at all, if no one (including yourself) forces you to think about it. "

PS The paper will be part of the 2007 Conference Proceedings. If you want to see it before then, drop me an e-mail and I'll send it to you.