How can we adequately measure the diversity and inclusiveness of our programs and universities?

Metrics of Diversity: An International Framework by Suzanne T. Ortega, President, Council of Graduate Schools

Measuring diversity is a necessary (but not sufficient) first step in the effort to broaden access to, and success in, high quality graduate education.  Data are useful for setting goals, catalyzing change, improving diversity programs and policies, and holding ourselves accountable for progress.  To be relevant and most useful, data must be local and as granular as the need to protect confidentiality and privacy allow.  Thus, at this level of analysis, minorities will be locally defined and the most useful strategy for assessing progress will benchmark a single university, region, or nation’s progress towards its own defined and articulated goals.  However, since the concept of representational diversity always has as its referent the distribution of group membership or characteristics in the larger population, it is possible to make cross-national comparisons on how well, overall, a country is doing in meeting its self-defined diversity goals.  There is much less agreement about the appropriate metrics or measurement strategies that might be used to assess progress in meeting inclusion goals.  However, since creating more equitable educational outcomes is one of the primary drivers of inclusion efforts, comparisons of gaps in degree completion rates gaps rates – over time within a single university or nation or between regions and nations – is one potentially useful metric for judging progress towards full inclusivity.  Of course, agreement about the appropriate frequency with which such data should be collected and analyzed is a critically needed next step, as is additional work to develop methods for assessing the impact of policies and practices focused on creating a more welcoming environment and experience.

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