SWM-003: The Presumed Incompetence of Faculty Women of Color, with Professor Carmen Gonzalez

October 17, 2013 @ 10:12 pm


Social Work Matters podcast coverCommunications Director Mary-Lea Cox Awanohara talks to Carmen Gonzalez, Professor of Law at the Seattle University School of Law, about her book Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (co-edited with Gutiérrez y Muhs and Angela P. Harris, published in 2012 by Utah State University Press). Presumed Incompetent is a 600-page account of the intersecting roles of race, gender, and class in the working lives of women faculty of color, with testimony from over forty contributors. Professor Gonzalez visited the Columbia School of Social Work last month to address faculty, advisors and administrators about the lessons learned from the research.



  • Professor Gonzalez’s visit to CSSW was sponsored by the School’s Professional Development and Self Awareness Program (PDSA). After delivering an address on the book, she held a series of meetings with faculty, advisors and administrators of color.
  • Stats: At each full-time academic rank, women are hired at lower salaries than men (a recent study found that female faculty in the United States on average earn 6.9 percent less than men in similar academic positions), receive less career support than men (such as research leave, relief from service work and research assistants), and are tenured and promoted at lower rates than men.
  • The statistics for women of color are particularly grim. Women of color hold only 7.5 percent of U.S. full-time faculty positions. But even this low number is misleading because women of color are concentrated at the lowest faculty ranks.
  • Presumed Incompetent is a collection of stories told primarily by women of color in a multitude of disciplines.
  • The editors organized the essays around four major themes: negotiation of identity, the link between the individual and the collective, the nature of academic culture, and mechanisms for change.
  • The final section of the book focuses on strategies and tools for creating a healthier environment—not just for women of color in the academy, but also for the administrators who will be managing them and their white and/or male colleagues.