Behind the Diversity Numbers

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Behind the Diversity Numbers uncovers how frequently used approaches to examine and understand race-related issues on college campuses can reinforce racism and inequality, rather than combat them. The book argues that educational leaders must look beyond quantitative metrics in order to develop institutional policies and practices that promote racial equality. Utilizing nearly thirty years of data and research, W. Carson Byrd shows that limiting conversations about racial inequality to numeric representation and outcomes fails to take into account that inequality is also an experience. Quantitative-heavy approaches can turn students into numbers, devaluing their lived experiences of marginalization on campus. Byrd repositions these experiences to better understand how to design effective analytic and policy strategies to promote racial equity and justice in higher education.

Behind the Diversity Numbers focuses on how racial stratification and inequality can hide in plain sight behind analyses of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It provides readers with a range of suggestions for institutional change, including how to incorporate racial equity as a central component of higher education, especially when it comes to analyzing and monitoring data that can inform decision-making and policy making. The conclusion offers recommendations for systemic institutional change and for incorporating racial justice and equity as central components of higher education.

Behind the Diversity Numbers will enhance how institutions, higher education agencies, and policy makers think about what should be done to reduce racial inequality and to create diverse and equitable campuses.

“Byrd’s book offers an important and clear-eyed critique of quantitative data and analyses, revealing how the field’s reliance on ‘the numbers’ exacerbates educational disparities we strive to eliminate. This is a must-read for education researchers, leaders, and policy makers, and a reminder that we must integrate multiple research methods, center narratives, and interrogate our and others’ biases to fight inequity in higher education.”
Kimberly A. Griffin, professor and associate dean of Graduate Studies and Faculty Affairs, College of Education, University of Maryland

“Byrd offers a deeply nuanced text that critically unpacks how quantitative analyses do not capture the depths of systemic racism, especially in affirmative action cases. In this important book, he challenges quantitative scholars to more thoroughly and meaningfully engage structured inequities in our work, moving from diversity to racism in our analyses.”
–Nolan L. Cabrera, associate professor, University of Arizona

“Byrd rightly calls for a rethinking of how higher education institutions address racism by looking beyond the numbers. In doing this, he reengages foundational research concerning racism in higher education that has been obfuscated by cheap ‘diversity talk’ to offer both new directions for research in higher education and bold recommendations for meaningful organizational and policy change.”
Mitchell J. Chang, professor, University of California, Los Angeles

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