A new analysis published in Public Administration found that student graduation rates improve as more faculty employed by a college or university share sex and race/ethnic identities with students.
The analysis focuses on the concept of intersectionality, which seeks to understand how aspects of a person's social and political identities--such as gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, and physical appearance--may combine to create aspects of discrimination and privilege.
The findings demonstrate an opportunity to help marginalized students: by hiring faculty with shared intersectional identities.
"We are the first study to show how the intersectional identity of the representative can improve the outcomes of the represented," said author Daniel L. Fay, MPA, PhD, of Florida State University. "Studies of representation should not overlook the importance of intersectional representation. Women or men of color serving as elected officials, political appointees, and managers can best represent and improve the outcomes for women or men of color, respectively.
Dr. Fay noted that future studies should look beyond race/ethnicity and sex to examine the effects of the intersection of other identities.