The Association of University Presses, in collaboration with Lee & Low Books, analyzed university press data from the most recent Diversity Baseline Survey of U.S. publishing released last year and found that 81% of the university press workforce to be white.
In their analysis, the AUP noted that this figure was even higher than for general trade publishing, which came in a 75% white. A total of 926 people from university presses responded to the survey, which returned results that showed that the university press industry was marginally more diverse than the industry overall, with 64% of people identified as cis woman (compared with 74% overall; 79% were straight-identifying (compared with 81% overall), and 88% said they were non-disabled (compared with 89% overall).
The analysis was conducted by Laura M. Jiménez (PhD, Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development) and Betsy Beckert (graduate student in the Language and Literacy Department of Wheelock College of Education & Human Development). They concluded that, "In fact, the [UP] data is so incredibly skewed it is unlikely that the few non- white, cis, straight, able people have any kind of demonstrative power or agency to push against the normative status quo standards."
Brenna McLaughlin, research and communications director at the AUP, responded to this new in an essay, “Reckoning with Whiteness in Scholarly Publishing," published on the website Scholarly Kitchen. In reviewing their work, McLaughlin noted a variety of efforts to diversify the workforce over the years and determined they have largely failed. She added that new efforts, such as the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship program, which offers paid internships and mentoring, the new Princeton University Press fellowship program, which do not demand a college degree, as well as rising salaries at publishers like Beacon Press, are all promising developments.
“The Association must acknowledge and address our own lack of progress, despite decades of diversity work, in building a publishing workforce that directly supports equitable knowledge production,” McLaughlin writes. “The actions our community takes now must be with the understanding of past failure and the intention to effect long-term change in our environment,” McLaughlin concludes. “Anti-racism must become part of the groundwater.”