Educators Battle Discrimination In The Field

Part 2: Obstacles in schools and publishing.

Posted May 02, 2018

Jenny Grant Rankin, Ph.D.
Source: Jenny Grant Rankin, Ph.D.

Part 1 of this series shared the Chinese parable “The Wisdom of the Mountain”, which celebrated the need to pursue diverse perspectives. Diverse voices need to be welcome for the field of education to benefit from all research and knowledge available.

Part 1 covered current obstacles women, people of color, and LGBT+ individuals face in higher education, which hurt students by holding back the education field as a whole. This article provides the second part of the series, covering obstacles traditionally marginalized groups face in primary and secondary school professions, as well as when they seek to share their knowledge through publishing.

Primary and Secondary Education

If we look at educators in primary and secondary school leadership roles, we see a similar pattern of concern as that shared in Part 1 of this series. In England, 74% of state educators are female, yet only 65% of headteachers (another term for principals) are women (it would take over 1,500 more female headteachers for these percentages to be balanced); at the secondary level, 62% of educators are female and 38% are male, but at the headteacher level 36% of educators are female and 64% are male (O’Conor, 2015). In the U.S., women comprise 76% of school teachers, yet only 52% of principals (Superville, 2016), and 25% of school superintendents (Simon, 2016). While this discrepancy is found in gender, it is not found in the race or ethnicity of principals. For example, 18% of teachers are not white, comparable to the 20% of principals who are not white (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development [USDEOPEPD], 2016).

Of course, our students ought to be able to observe the same level of diversity in the teachers leading their classrooms that they see in our communities. Yet while 82% of non-private school teachers are white, only 51% of students in non-private schools are white (USDEOPEPD, 2016). Multiple studies rendered evidence students are less likely to experience bias from teachers who share their same racial or ethnic background. As evidenced in Egido’s (2018) research into assumptions, prejudice, and discrimination in a class setting, teachers’ own thoughts on their role as educators are impacted by the assumptions others make about them, just as their own biases can negatively impact students.


Inequity impacts opportunities we pursue within our field. In a study across 33 nations, 90.79% of the 6,121 scholarly publishing employees studied identified themselves as white; other ethnic and racial groups comprised 2.56% at most, and Hispanic/Latinx employees were the least represented (at only 0.77%) (Greco, Wharton, & Brand, 2016; Roh & Clement, 2017). When non-White groups (and women, who disproportionately occupy non-leadership roles in publishing and are underpaid) are underrepresented among those making decisions in publishing, this directly affects the work that is selected for publication (Milliot, 2014; Roh, 2016). This lack of diversity even penalizes people of color and women when blind review is utilized, as so many other variables impact publishing decisions than just the blind review (Roh, Drabinski, & Inefuku, 2015).

There Is More

Picking up where Part 1 left off (bias in higher education), this article covered ways in which the education field is underserved when traditionally marginalized groups face bias in schools and publishing. Part 3 of this series will cover areas of progress and solutions to increase the diversity of voices in the field of education so students can benefit from all research and knowledge available.


Egido, A. A. (2018). Students’ presupposition, prejudice, and discrimination in an English language class. Londrina, Brazil: State University of Londrina.

Greco, A., Wharton, R., Brand, A. (2016, February). Demographics of scholarly publishing and communication professionals. Learned Publishing, 29(2), 97-101. doi: 10.1002/leap.1017

Milliot, J. (2014, September 9). Publishing’s holding pattern: 2014 salary survey. Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from

Roh, C. (2016). Inequalities in publishing. Urban Library Journal, 22(2), 17-34.

Roh, C., Drabinski, E., Inefuku, H. (2015). Scholarly Communication as a Tool for Social Justice and Diversity. Association of College and Research Libraries Annual Meeting. Panel conducted from the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR.

Roh, C., & Clement, G. P. (2017, May 2). Scholarly Publishing Education for Academic Authors: Reframing the Library’s Instruction Role. Digital Initiatives Symposium. Presentation conducted from the University of Sand Diego, Sand Diego, CA.

Simon, C. (2016, March 7). The costs of inequality: For women, progress until they get near power. Harvard Gazette. Retrieved from

Superville, D. R. (2016, December 30). Few women run the nation’s school districts. Why? PBS Newshour. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. (2016). The state of racial diversity in the educator workforce. Washington, DC: Author.