Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity in STP

Approved by the STP Executive Committee, August 19, 2020

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The Executive Committee for the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2, known from here on out as “STP”) is making this statement in order to inform our membership about how we plan to address systemic and structural racial inequities. Racial inequities have long existed, including in the field of psychology and more specifically within STP. The Executive Committee acknowledges and recognizes that our organization has been complicit in perpetuating institutionalized and structural racial inequities. We have failed to fully and adequately lead and develop an organization that is equitable and inclusive. We recognize the negative impact our failure has had on representation in the field and throughout STP. We understand that we must disrupt the systemic centering of whiteness by making long-lasting, structural changes. Our goal in making this statement is to reimagine how to dismantle structural and institutionalized racism in STP and to advocate for social justice as well as antiracist policies for institutions, organizations, structures, and systems involved in the teaching of psychology across the United States, and internationally.

We recognize that faculty members and instructors of color (e.g., Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] in the US; Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic [BAME] in the UK) deal with a number of structural and systemic racial inequities, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Faculty members and instructors of color are often held to higher standards than their white counterparts, with implications for hiring, promotion, and tenure.
  • Faculty members and instructors of color are often expected to refrain from speaking out about racism, also with implications for hiring, promotion, and tenure.
  • The field of psychology tends to regard topics of race, ethnicity, and diversity as a special interest topic outside of mainstream psychology, with implications for presenting at conferences and publishing in academic journals.
  • Racial inequity exists in psychological research regarding work about race and ethnicity. While generally such work is not published nearly as often as other topics, when it is published, the work of white authors is disproportionately published over that of BIPOC authors. Additionally, BIPOC authors who publish work about race and ethnicity are often not esteemed as highly as white authors who do work in this area.
  • Research shows that students often rate equally qualified faculty members and instructors of color as less skilled and competent than their white peers. Nevertheless, these evaluations are utilized in faculty performance review processes as a means to judge teaching effectiveness.
  • Within STP, systemic and structural inequities exist. For example, as of 2017 (the most recent division membership statistics available), 62% of STP members and 84% of STP Fellows identified as white . Within our 75-year history, STP seems to have only had two Presidents who are persons of color. Furthermore, only 10.8% of candidates for STP’s Executive Committee were BIPOC members, and only 14.8% of elected members of the Executive Committee were BIPOC members. These inequities affect development and dissemination of resources, programming planning and speaking opportunities, receipt of awards and grants, leadership opportunities, and STP’s climate of inclusion.

We offer a sincere apology to faculty members and instructors of color – as well as current and former members of our organization - who have been negatively impacted by our disregard for these issues and failing to advocate for social justice in the field of psychology teaching and learning. Moving forward, we will be accountable to addressing these issues head on and offer more direct resources, support, and inclusivity for faculty members and instructors of color and STP members.

To our white colleagues, STP should not replicate the inequities that are present outside the organization. We also have a responsibility to ensure that inequities are not replicated in our own departments and institutions. As members of search committees, promotion and tenure committees, grants and awards committees, conference planning committees, and editorial boards, we must resist and speak out against discrimination, bias, and racist practices. As allies, white colleagues should practice their vigilant self-awareness (as colleagues and teachers), witness the systematic inequality in your respective institutions and organizations, and speak up to challenge decisions or processes that continue to support white supremacy.

We recognize that dismantling systemic racism in our organization will take time and much effort. This statement is not exhaustive and the steps outlined below are only the beginning of a long-term process. We welcome input for next steps that add to or refine our priorities and commitments. We welcome such input from our member community and others interested in seeing STP be more inclusive and equitable. STP leadership understands throughout this process we are subject to being held accountable by our membership and interested individuals for valuing equity and inclusivity. We encourage you to call us out and hold us accountable as we move forward. Please feel free to email president@teachpsych.org with your feedback on diversity and accountability concerns.

We put forward several priorities and concrete steps toward institutional change to address systemic racism and structural inequity. Our priorities lie in four main areas: 1) Critical reflection and assessment, 2) Representation, 3) Equity, and 4) Inclusivity. Our goal is to implement changes so that our organization meets our own standards and so that it can serve as a positive example for faculty and students across the country. With that in mind, we express the following priorities and commitments in this process:

  1. STP values critical reflection and assessment. We understand the importance of reflection and organizational self assessment in order to have a better sense of the specific ways in which structural inequities exist and are perpetuated within our organization. This is particularly relevant with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion in each VP area and overall within STP. To achieve these goals, we are making the following commitments:
a)   We will develop a member survey assessing the needs of members from marginalized and racially minoritized communities.
b)   We will engage in an immediate assessment of organizational gaps in how STP manages diversity, equity, and inclusion.
c)    Each Vice President will document the diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives in their area in their annual reports.

2)   STP values representation. STP wants to ensure institutional representation - increasing the number of faculty members and instructors of color - in all areas, including membership, leadership (including the Executive Committee), awards, resources, diversity and international relations, and programming. STP will work toward greater representation in the Society, including parity between membership and leadership, including the executive committee. To achieve these goals, we make the following commitments:

a)   Recruitment and retention initiatives will promote greater representation among STP membership.

b)   Recruitment initiatives will promote greater representation in leadership, particularly at the executive level and in APA Fellows and Council members.

3)   STP values equity. We want the organization to be equally accessible to all STP members. STP wants to promote equity in the teaching of psychology for faculty members and instructors of color. To this end we will:

a)   Establish a Presidential task force to examine leadership and executive committee structure to include discussion of adding an executive-level position for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and accountability.

b)   Promote social justice initiatives targeting outreach in the field and psychology departments to promote faculty equity for faculty of color .

c)    Award research and scholarship of teaching and learning that promotes the study of race, ethnicity, systemic racism, and other structural and institutional inequities.

d)   Make changes in the editorial structure of STP’s journal, Teaching of Psychology, in order to promote the inclusion of diverse perspectives and research/scholarship about race, ethnicity, systemic racism, and other structural inequities in the teaching of psychology.

4)   STP values inclusivity. We aspire to be an inclusive organization where faculty members and instructors of color have an equally meaningful impact and voice within the organization. To this end we commit to:

a)   Antiracist training that is ongoing for all current and new leaders in STP, including executive committee members.

b)   A Presidential task force to explore changes in STP membership structure to provide more areas for diverse voices and perspectives to be impactful.

c)    Implementation of outreach strategies to STP members from faculty members and instructors of color.

We would like to thank our colleagues who serve on the STP Diversity Committee who helped inform and inspire this document, in particular Teceta Tormala, Leslie Berntsen, and Dina Gohar. We also want to thank the scholars and activists in the field working toward equity and whose work on which these commitments are based.

Signed,

The Executive Committee of APA Division 2, Society for the Teaching of Psychology

Amy Fineburg, President

Rick Miller, Past-President

Susan Nolan, President-Elect

Kelley Haynes-Mendez, Vice President of Diversity and International Relations

Keli Braitman, Vice President of Grants and Awards

Meera Komarraju, Vice President of Membership

Angela Legg, Vice President of Programming

William Altman, Vice President of Resources

Stephanie Afful, Secretary

Jeff Holmes, Treasurer

Tom Pusateri, Executive Director

References

Ahluwalia, M. K., Ayala, S. I., Locke, A. F., & Nadrich, T. (2019). Mitigating the “Powder Keg”: The Experiences of Faculty of Color Teaching Multicultural Competence. Teaching of Psychology, 46(3), 187-196. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628319848864

Bavishi, A., Madera, J. M., & Hebl, M. R. (2010). The effect of professor ethnicity and gender on student evaluations: Judged before met. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 3(4), 245–256. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0020763

Roberts, S. O., Bareket-Shavit, C., Dollins, F. A., Goldie, P. D., & Mortenson, E. (2020). Racial inequality in psychological research: Trends of the past and recommendations for the future. Perspectives on Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620927709


Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Division 2 Members by Membership Status, 2017, Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/about/division/officers/services/div-2-2017.pdf

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