L. Rafael Reif, Provost

Report of the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity

C. Hiring and Career Trajectories

Results from Cohort Analysis

Even though MIT has made a real effort to recruit minorities, as shown later, the numbers are still small. Between 1991 and 2009, 77 underrepresented minority faculty members were hired - 8.5% of the total hires during that period, although three departments and one division made no minority hires at all during this time. Twenty-three (30%) of these minority hires were women; 42 (55%) were Blacks; 33 (43%) were Hispanics; and two were of other ethnic groups. Thirty-eight percent of the Black hires were female, compared to only 15% women among the Hispanic hires.

Although 8.5% of the hires were URMs, they currently comprise only 6% of the MIT faculty. This is one of our key findings: we disproportionately lose minorities in the early years. Table C.1 shows the 554 people hired as assistant professors between 1991 and 2004, all of whom should have had enough time for the first promotion to associate professor without tenure (AWOT). But, as the table shows, fewer URM than Whites or Asians were promoted to AWOT.

Table C.1
Promotion to AWOT
(of those hired as assistant professors 1991-2004)


Promoted to

Left without


























* 11 people did not get promoted but are still here (all hired after 2000), hence all totals do not equal 100%

** includes also 1 Native American

Note: There is a significant difference between promotion rates of White and URM faculty, ?2 = 7.0, p<.01

Further, women are less likely to be promoted than men (66% vs. 76%) and this is more pronounced among URM faculty (43% of URM women promoted compared to 63% of URM men) and the difference is even greater among Black faculty (44% of 9 Black women promoted compared to 71% of 14 Black men).

The picture varies by schools. The schools of Science and Engineering promote faculty to AWOT at a higher rate than do the other schools (81% vs. 67%). In both sets of schools, however, the difference between URMs and the dominant groups remains, and the difference between URM and non-URM is larger in the non-science/engineering schools. In SAP, SHASS and Sloan, 67% of Whites and 68% of Asians get promoted to AWOT, compared to 48% of URMs.4

Using promotion to AWOT as the dependent variable in a regression analysis and controlling for sex, year of hire, department, ethnicity and country of origin, we find a significant negative coefficient for URMs, as is evident in Table C.2. Compared to White men, URMs are less likely to be promoted to AWOT no matter what year they came to MIT or into which department they were hired, and this is particularly true for U.S.-origin URMs. An analysis including separate effects for Blacks and Hispanics shows that both groups have negative coefficients, with the Hispanic one somewhat larger, though they are not significantly different from each other. In Appendix 4.2 we also report logit marginal effects; they are virtually indistinguishable from the linear probability coefficients in Table C.2.

Women also have a negative coefficient, though without statistical significance.

Table C.2
Linear probability model results of effect of URM on promotion to AWOT
(assistant professors hired 1991-2004)


(Model 1)

(Model 2)

(Model 3)

(Model 4)
























URM non-U.S. Origin



URM U.S. Origin









(Year of Hire)

(Year of Hire)

(Year of Hire)







t=1.71, p=0.06

t=0.283, p=0.777











Note: "U.S. origin" in this and all tables in the research report includes non-responses to the country of origin question; hence this category may include a few foreign countries of origin.

* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001

Robust standard errors in parentheses.

Sample survival functions, which show the probability that a newly hired assistant professor still works at MIT as a function of time since hire, are graphed in Appendix 4.3. They show that the survival probability for URMs, compared to non-URMs, begins to decrease at about three years, some two years before the median time to AWOT, and then remains lower for the rest of the time. In contrast, women's survival probability is very close to that of men, and only drops below the male curve at about 14 years. Put together, we see that URM women have a lower probability of survival compared to URM men until about the seventh year. After that, the survival probability of URM men drops below that of URM women. Non-URM men and women have similar survival probabilities until about year 14, when those for women begin to decrease.

Given the attrition between hiring and first promotion to AWOT, it is not surprising that there are also differences among groups in the proportion getting tenure. For this we limit the cohort to those who entered between 1991 and 2000, thus giving them time to have obtained tenure. Forty-eight percent of entering White assistant professors and 45% of entering Asian assistant professors attained tenure during this time, compared to only 31% of URM assistant professors. Blacks fare somewhat better than Hispanics in achieving tenure (39% vs. 20%). If, however, we limit the analysis to those who did get promoted to AWOT, the difference between URM and non-URM is reduced but nonetheless persists:
63% of Whites and 60% of Asians attain tenure compared to 58% of Blacks, but only 40%
of Hispanics.

In all cases, for URMs as well as non-URMs, when a faculty member enters MIT as an associate professor without tenure (AWOT), the probability of attaining tenure increases. Entering as a senior professor (i.e. as tenured), of course, is best of all. A difference remains, however, between URMs and non-URMs in rank at entry: 21% of our current tenured White faculty and 23% of our current Asian faculty arrived at MIT with tenure, compared to only 12% of URM faculty (all male). Similarly, when we look at all those hired between 1991 and 2009, 14% of White and 13% of Asian faculty came in tenured, compared to 5%
of URMs.

As to timing, the mean time to AWOT is 4.7 years, with a median of 5 and a mode of 4. URMs are somewhat higher, with a mean of 5.0 and a mode of 5.5 The overall mean time to tenure is 6.4 years (median=7; mode=7); URMs take longer with a mean of 6.9 years; Asians have the shortest time, with a mean of 6.2. The mean time from tenure to full professors is 3.6 years (mode, median=3) and there is little difference among the race/ethnic groups (see Appendix 4.3). There is almost a year's difference, however, between men and women in the time it takes to go from tenure to full professor. Women have a mean of 4.4 years compared to 3.4 years for men, and the median for women is 4 compared to 3 for men (mode for both=3). This difference in timing to get to full professor when one has already been granted tenure is something that should be examined further.

In sum, we tend to lose URM faculty and women during the early years, prior to the first promotion, and minority faculty are somewhat slower in the timing of their promotions. Blacks tend to fare better than Hispanics, though among Black faculty who entered as assistant professors, the women have considerably lower promotion rates than the Black men hired in that position. Hispanic women are notable for their absence.

Experiencing Academic Practices: Interpreting Hiring and Career Trajectories

Much of what determines the representation of URM faculty has to do with recruitment, mentoring, promotion and retention, what we described above as career trajectories. In analyzing what the faculty tell us in the interviews about their experiences with these academic practices, we can see how these aggregate patterns are differentially experienced by URM and non-URM faculty.

Recruiting. Typically, a job is advertised and people apply. But, we know that this is not always the way that the applicant pool is compiled. Indeed, one of the most common suggestions to increase the number of minorities and women applying for an opening is to actively recruit them. On the basis of how the faculty described their coming to MIT, we see that they were about evenly distributed in three modes: the normal, blind application process; encouragement to apply; and active recruitment.6 The women in the URM interview sample (25% of the whole) are proportionately represented among those who were encouraged to apply. They are overrepresented, however, among those who applied in the normal, blind application process and underrepresented among those who were actively recruited.

This picture seems quite different in the non-URM comparison group, although specific information in this group is sparse. Of the 28 non-URM faculty who gave sufficient information on how they came to MIT, 22 applied and 6 were recruited to some degree. In other words, there is a key difference here: non-URMs are about 3.5:1 times more likely to apply than to be recruited, compared to an opposite ratio for URMs, who are about 1.5:1 more likely to be recruited. MIT is clearly making an effort to recruit URM faculty, and without this effort the situation would no doubt be worse than it currently is. Nonetheless, more efforts may still need to be made in order to increase the diversity of the faculty.

One issue that needs to be carefully thought about concerns the target of opportunity hires. Few of the URM faculty knew whether or not their minority (or gender) status had anything to do with their recruitment, though some surmised that it did: "I wonder if I would have this job if I had been a White male." Others were fairly sure that race/ethnicity/gender had nothing to do with their hiring: "People are hired because they are excellent"; "I believe I came as a regular hire; race or gender was not mentioned." A few knew they were target of opportunity hires but hoped they were hired for "what I do, not just.whatever I bring in the way of identity and networks, as many faculty of color do."

For some people, the fact that race played a role in their hiring was quite negative. For example, one faculty member reported that he had heard that his department went to the provost to ask for a slot:

"That is the absolute last thing in the world that I wanted to have, to be labeled like that. At MIT, colleagues only respect you if you are very good at what you do, and it is hard to have their respect if you are perceived as having had favorable treatment. [He continued by saying that] this made life difficult for me in the beginning. How could I expect them to respect me if I was a special appointment? [He commented later in the interview] I hope MIT is doing this in a more thoughtful way. MIT should just say yes or no, we want this person because of their technical excellence or not.one should not need a special slot."

Three other URM faculty, who knew they were opportunity hires, also felt that it contributed to less than optimal treatment, particularly regarding staff support. In one case, the URM faculty member reported difficulty getting administrative and material support because the administrative officer "is not sure I have research funds because of the way I was hired, even though [the AO] has my appointment letter."

A key issue has to do with the way the target of opportunity system is mobilized in the hiring procedure. There was concern that the system of opportunity hires means that "for institutions that do have these target of opportunity funds, there will almost never be a chance that I [minority] would actually come out as a number one in the [search] position because the interest of the department [is] to get as many people as possible." This person feared that the search committee will always rank the White applicant higher and then go for an extra slot for the URM. To combat the consequence of this gaming for assessments of candidates, one respondent suggested that search committees should put candidates into groups, rather than ranking them. In this way there would be a top group instead of a top person; with grouping, a URM could be categorized within that top tier, rather than always viewed as an add on and never ranked as the very top.

Mentoring. Mentoring varies considerably across the Institute. There are examples of superb mentoring in our sample and examples of dismal failure. They vary across schools, across fields, and across race/ethnic and gender categories. Judging from these data, the critical factor in providing supportive mentoring depends on holding the mentor accountable for the mentee's movement through the process of promotion and tenure. This complements what research elsewhere has shown (Kalev, Dobbin, and Kelly, 2006).

One example of a first-rate mentoring experience comes from a URM faculty member. In this person's school, two to three mentors are assigned to all junior faculty, one to two in their field and one outside. These mentors then have to present the case for the junior person annually to the department. It is their job to make the junior person's work accessible to the rest of the department, many of whom might be in different areas, and to create a case for the importance of that work. These mentors' connections with their mentees, therefore, reflect back on the mentors, which leads to more engaged support. The essence here is that the mentor is personally involved in the success of the mentee. This process also provides annual feedback to the junior faculty member which means that if things go wrong and they do not get tenure, the junior faculty member should, at least, not be surprised.

Without a formal process driven by a dean or department head, however, the situation is different. "I didn't know that I actually had a formal mentor assigned until I had been here almost two years." In other cases a mentor is seen as "clueless"; "I didn't have a graduate student for a few years, because, somehow, I didn't know how that worked, and nobody said, 'Gee, you should get a graduate student.'" Most of the complaints about lack of helpful mentoring come from the URM sample, and the difference in the mentoring experience of the URM and non-URM faculty is striking. Since formal mentoring is relatively new at MIT, our analysis of differences in experience centers on the untenured faculty.

In our analysis of the transcribed interviews, we identified statements about mentoring. From this information, we could determine whether a respondent: had a mentor or mentors; if they were formal or informal, if there were other people who supported the faculty respondent; what was positive about their mentoring; and, finally, what was negative. From these abstracted comments from the interviews of both URM and non-URM, we classified each non-tenured faculty's mentoring experience into three groups: average experience, above average and below average. The final counts for all groups are given in Table C.3.

Table C.3
Comparison of URM and non-URM untenured faculty on mentoring experiences



Total non-URM


White (n=13)**

Asian (n=5)


Above Average

7 (28%)

6 (46%)

4 (80%)

10 (55.5%)


15 (60%)

7 (54%)


7 (39%)

Below Average

3 (12%)


1 (20%)

1 (5.5%)

* One Hispanic AWOT talked about the downside of mentoring, mentions 2 minorities who suffered from
mentoring, and reports he didn't need any. He is excluded from the table.

** One White assistant professor provided no information about his mentoring experience and is excluded from
the table.

Note: Chi-square (3 major groups; 2 categories) = 5.06, p<.10; Fisher's Exact Test: p=.07 7

As a group, URMs have fewer good mentoring experiences, although there are group differences even among URM faculty. Of the seven URMs with positive mentoring experiences, five are Hispanic and one is a woman, compared to the below-average group in which none is Hispanic and all are women. Indeed, everyone in the below-average mentoring group, regardless of race/ethnicity, is female. It would seem, therefore, that mentoring is most problematic for Blacks and women.

This conclusion holds even when looking at the entire sample, not only the untenured faculty. Importantly, the school with the least formal mentoring and the most emphasis on informal mentoring has the worst experience. All but one of the below average group are from this school. Again, this holds for the entire sample.

In summary with regard to mentoring, it seems fairly clear that the non-URM sample has more favorable mentoring experiences than the URM group, and that the most difficult
experiences are among Blacks, women and those from schools that rely on informal

Promotion and Tenure. Promotion and tenure create anxiety for all. Nonetheless, there are distinct differences across racial and ethnic groups in perceptions of the process, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of tenure. Achieving tenure at MIT is perceived as extremely difficult and, many think, increasingly so. It is particularly difficult for those who might be considered risky. One respondent echoed statements made by several others concerning MIT's absolute commitment to recruiting and retaining the very best in any field: "They [MIT] would rather turn someone down for tenure and then have them go on to [a] brilliant career than the reverse, to give tenure to someone who turns out to just be dead weight." Respondents commented that the Institute's unwavering commitment to excellence works against those among the URM and non-URM faculty who are not superstars but, think some, this seems to have a disparate impact for URM scholars, both at hiring and promotion. "As long as you're hiring average White chemists, then you can hire an average Black chemist.why hold the Black chemist to the Nobel standard and hold the White candidate to the good-enough standard?"

In the URM sample, a small but vocal set (n=5, 9%) explicitly talked about the subjective nature of promotion and tenure decisions, with a large number implying less explicitly that subjective judgment plays a significant role in the tenure process. Often this came from
faculty in fields outside of science and engineering, fields where criteria for evaluation are less consensual and clear (Lamont, 2009). There was a sense that to impose clear criteria from the most dominant forms of scholarship on other areas and styles of work - "to insist on orthodoxy" as one URM faculty member speculated - "stifles one of the pillars of MIT which is to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship of ideas." Such worries among the URM faculty contrast with the comparison group: not one person in the Asian or White groups mentioned any such concern about the subjectivity of the tenure process.

There were clear differences in the reported post-tenure experiences of 20 URM and 12 non-URM faculty who came up through the ranks.8 Two White male faculty looked back on the pre-tenure years as a "more idyllic" time where they could do unencumbered research; where they "didn't know all the things I'd end up having to do"; "they were the best years I've had here." No URM, women or Asian faculty expressed this attitude in quite this way,
although a number did indicate (four URM, three non-URM) that with committees and other administrative duties they now had more work, and, in some ways, there had been more support, if also more tension, in earlier days.

Among faculty, particularly URM faculty (five URM, one non-URM), there was an articulated sense that tenure came with both positives and negatives. With tenure, there is less tension, things are more relaxed and the insecurity is gone (four URM, four non-URM). There is also considerably more freedom; four URM and two non-URM were specific about this aspect of their experience. With tenure, however, also came increased committee and administrative work which took time. In that sense, there was a loss in autonomy, but tenure also allowed more access to information, more opportunity to learn the culture, and to have more influence and power. Interestingly, the advantage of additional access, leverage and influence was more frequently and clearly mentioned by URM faculty. There was, however, one discordant note of a URM faculty member who actually felt marginalized by not being appointed to the leadership positions that would provide this advantage.

Notably, across all groups, faculty felt that tenure did not dramatically reduce the pressure to produce. "MIT continues to send signals about what it wants, especially in research.It's ongoing, and it's never completely easy at MIT, even after tenure. MIT has a stressful face."

Retention. The faculty experiences already portrayed involve issues of retention implicitly and explicitly. We have, however, another data set of interviews with 11 URM faculty who left MIT that can shed different light with more explicit focus on the retention issue for URM faculty.

Although a small group, there is a remarkable consistency in the interpretations of the MIT experiences of the 11 former faculty interviewed. Of the five who left as assistant professors, only one was a recent faculty member (who left after 2000). Atypically, he said that he was aware that his publications were low and admitted that he "had trouble hitting on all cylinders while I was on the MIT faculty." Those from the earlier group were more likely to blame the system and two reported highly negative experiences. They cited lack of feedback, lack of mentoring, unfilled promises of resources and a lack of awareness on the part of MIT that race is an important aspect of the faculty experience. One, in particular, felt strongly that URMs experienced exclusion at MIT, and that this experience was not taken into account at promotion and tenure decisions.

"However it's [tenure] being defined now, it's definitely not an inclusive reality. It wasn't that you were excluded in an obvious way; it was just this really, really racist kind of exclusion, of alienation that went on . I don't think Whites have any, my White colleagues have any idea. And they don't care because they don't ask, they just assume. You know, so, when you talk about inclusion, the different realities and the different worlds that we experience in academic institutions, many of our White colleagues aren't asking. When it's time for tenure, they don't put that on the table. They don't care."

Specifics detailed by this group include: lack of interactions with colleagues, a changed environment with a new department head, difficulty of getting graduate students and a promised lab that never materialized (all from people in the earlier group). These kinds of reasons could well be given by anyone who did not get tenure at MIT, and without a comparison group we cannot be sure. We can tell, however, that the people from the earlier period are more negative, find fault with the system, and attribute their situation more specifically to race. This fits with indications from forums and from the survey that older, more senior URM faculty seem to be less satisfied than those who are younger (see Appendix 3.3).
Perhaps MIT is improving.

Salary Analysis

A salary analysis was conducted including all faculty members as of January 2009 with the exception of the president, provost, chancellor and the five deans. The final N was 834. In this regression analysis, the dependent variable was the log of the nine-month faculty salary in January 2009. Independent variables were cohort of entry, age, gender, time at MIT, race/ethnicity, country of origin, current rank, department, initial rank and administrative position. The resulting regression accounted for 84% of the variance in salaries (see Appendix 5.1). Rank, department, being hired as a full professor and previous administrative experience were the strongest predictors of salary.

Results indicate that URM faculty are not paid less than White male faculty with comparable characteristics. An initial non-significant negative coefficient reflects the disproportionate number of URMs in the lower paying departments of SHASS. With controls, the URM coefficient turns positive (larger for URMs of U.S. origin) and is statistically significant at the .05 level, though remains quite small (.041).

The URM coefficient is further reduced and loses its statistical significance when research volume (money brought in from grants) is added to the equation (see Appendix 5.2). We do not have a good measure of research productivity that covers all the schools, nor is it clear that money brought in from grants captures the quality and impact of the research. Nonetheless, in the absence of a better and more universal indicator, we used a smaller population consisting of 489 members from departments in the Schools of Engineering and Science where research volume was meaningful, i.e. where there was a non-zero average over three years. In this group there is no significant difference in salaries between URM and White male faculty, once controls are introduced.9

Summary of Section C

It is clear from this analysis that even though MIT is actively recruiting minority faculty, their numbers are still low, with URM assistant professors leaving disproportionately in the early years before promotion to AWOT. Opportunity hires clearly help, but some of their inadvertent consequences suggest a rethinking of the procedures involved.

We have also seen that the mentoring experience of URM faculty (and women) is less positive than that of White or Asian men. What seems to work well is a formal system with two to three mentors who are accountable to their school councils for the progress of the mentee.

Further, URM faculty have some concerns about the objectivity of the tenure process, which will become clearer in the next section. Their lives are less likely to be seen as "idyllic," even though the influence accorded with tenure is very much welcomed. Those who have left MIT, especially those from earlier years, are likely to blame the system and to see race as involved in its deficiencies.

Finally, as far as we can tell with the variables we have available, there is no salary imbalance between minorities (or women) and White men.

B. Research Design

D. MIT: A Meritocratic Institution
of Excellence and Inclusion?


4 It is primarily the School of Engineering that has a somewhat higher than average promotion rate to AWOT, and the Sloan School that has signifcantly lower promotion rates at all levels. The other schools are all pretty much the same: about three quarters of entering assistant professors get promoted to AWOT and about half of them get tenure.

5 Blacks are somewhat slower than Hispanics (5.1 years compared to 4.7), but the numbers involved are very small.

6 Fifteen of the 41 URM faculty who were specifc about their recruitment reported that they applied for their jobs in the usual manner. Twelve were encouraged to apply (i.e. they were told about the ad, or someone suggested they apply) and 12 were actively recruited (i.e. someone kept after them with specifc information and advice, beyond mere encouragement). Two URM faculty members (both male Hispanics) pushed to be considered. Thirteen in this group had MIT connections (all of whom were either encouraged to apply or actively recruited); three were senior appointments (who were actively recruited); two had MLK connections (both of whom were actively recruited).

7 Because of small numbers, the categories of Average and Below Average have been combined. For Fisher's Exact Test, the comparison is between URM and non-URM.

8 Among the 11 tenured White faculty, one (9%) came here already tenured, a similar proportion to the URM faculty (2 of 21, 10%) who came with tenure. But both contrast sharply with the three of fve tenured Asian faculty who came already tenured (60%).

9 In this smaller sample, research volume is a statistically signifcant predictor of salary ( p<.001), even though the coeffcient itself is small (.023) and adds hardly anything to the variance explained.

L. Rafael Reif
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