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The intersection of race, class, and gender in higher education: Implications for discrimination and policy

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Tiffany Monique Griffin
Abstract:
This dissertation examined how discrimination perpetration, operationalized as systematic biases against low power targets in affirmative action endorsement, influenced access to higher education within and between groups. The dissertation provided a description and review of discrimination perpetration. In this review, discrimination perpetration was distinguished from the experience of discrimination; the psychological components of institutional discrimination, the role of intersectionality, and the importance of considering context were also discussed. The review served as a foundation for two subsequent empirical studies. The first empirical study examined gender-based affirmative action endorsements for targets when their race and gender were simultaneously made salient. This study found that White female participants endorsed gender-based affirmative action equally for all targets. White male participants were more likely to endorse gender-based affirmative action for White female and Black male targets, than for Black female targets. The final study investigated social class- based affirmative action when targets' race, class, and gender were simultaneously salient, and when ambiguity was manipulated via the targets' preparedness. There were no differences in the likelihood that White female participants endorsed affirmative action for White and Black female targets from low or high social class backgrounds or for White and Black male targets from low social class backgrounds. There was a higher likelihood that female participants endorsed affirmative action for White male targets from higher social class backgrounds than for Black male targets from higher social class backgrounds. There was no difference in the likelihood that White male participants endorsed affirmative action for Black and White highly prepared targets from low or high social class backgrounds, or to Black and White targets from low social class backgrounds who were moderately prepared. Yet, there was a higher likelihood that White male participants endorsed affirmative action for moderately prepared White targets from high social class backgrounds, than for moderately prepared Black targets from high social class backgrounds. Together, the results suggest that policy endorsements vary according to targets' multiple group memberships simultaneously. The results have implications for policies designed to bolster equal access to higher education and for the psychological study of discrimination perpetration in higher education.

Table of Contents Acknowledgements ii List of Tables vii List of Figures viii Abstract x Chapter 1: Introduction 1 The Conceptual Framework 3 The Three Papers 4 Chapter 2: Applying Discrimination Perpetration to the Study of Educational Disparities: A Social Psychological (Yet Interdisciplinary) Approach 9 Discrimination Perpetration Revealed 11 Intersectionality and Discrimination Perpetration 24 Considering Context 32 Summary and Conclusions 35 Chapter 3: Women and Minorities 49 Method 54 Results 58 Discussion 60 Chapter 4: Race or Class? 81 Method 89 v

Results 91 Discussion 94 Chapter 5: Conclusion 113 Summary of Major Findings 113 Methodological Challenges and Limitations 116 Future Directions 118 Implications 119 Conclusion: Why Study Systematic Biases in Affirmative Action Endorsement as a Measure of Discrimination Perpetration? 122 VI

List of Tables Table 3.1 Names Pre-Test Version A (Percentages): The Top Three Whitest and Blackest Names 66 Table 3.2 Names Pre-Test Version B (Means): Ranking the Top Whitest and Blackest Names 67 Table 3.3 Endorsement Rates of at Least One Gender-Based Affirmative Action Program Type by Gender 68 Table 3.4 Logistic Regression Analyses for Endorsements of at Least One Gender-Based Affirmative Action Type: Main Effects for Race and Gender, Interaction Effects for Race x Gender 69 Table 3.5 Logistic Regression Analyses for Endorsements of at Least One Gender-Based Affirmative Action Type: Condition Effects 70 Table 4.1 Endorsement Rates of Social Class-Based Affirmative Action by Gender 103 Table 4.2 Logistic Regression Analyses for Endorsements of Social Class-Based Affirmative Action 104 vn

List of Figures Figure 2.1 Psychological Approaches to Studying Discrimination 37 Figure 3.1 Schematic Representation of Distributive Justice-Based Predictions for Female Powerholders 71 Figure 3.2a Schematic Representation of Distributive Justice-Based Predictions for Male Powerholders 72 Figure 3.2b Schematic Representation of Predictions of Distributive Justice-Based Predictions for Male Powerholders 73 Figure 3.3a Schematic Representation of Predictions for Male Powerholders Based on the Subordinate Male Threat Hypothesis 74 Figure 3.3b Schematic Representation of Predictions for Male Powerholders Based on the Subordinate Male Threat Hypothesis 75 Figure 3.4 Schematic Representation of Predictions for Male Powerholders Based on (Additive) Multiple Jeopardy Hypotheses 76 Figure 4.1 Female Endorsement Patterns for Social Class-Based Affirmative Action for Targets from Low Social Class Backgrounds 105 Figure 4.2 Female Endorsement Patterns for Social Class-Based Affirmative Action for Targets from High Social Class Backgrounds 106 Figure 4.3 Male Endorsement Patterns for Social Class-Based Affirmative Action for Targets from Low Social Class Backgrounds 107 viii

Figure 4.4 Male Endorsement Patterns for Social Class-Based Affirmative Action for Targets from High Social Class Backgrounds 108 IX

Abstract This dissertation examined how discrimination perpetration, operationalized as systematic biases against low power targets in affirmative action endorsement, influenced access to higher education within and between groups. The dissertation provided a description and review of discrimination perpetration. In this review, discrimination perpetration was distinguished from the experience of discrimination; the psychological components of institutional discrimination, the role of intersectionality, and the importance of considering context were also discussed. The review served as a foundation for two subsequent empirical studies. The first empirical study examined gender-based affirmative action endorsements for targets when their race and gender were simultaneously made salient. This study found that White female participants endorsed gender-based affirmative action equally for all targets. White male participants were more likely to endorse gender-based affirmative action for White female and Black male targets, than for Black female targets. The final study investigated social class- based affirmative action when targets' race, class, and gender were simultaneously salient, and when ambiguity was manipulated via the targets' preparedness. There were no differences in the likelihood that White female participants endorsed affirmative action for White and Black female targets from low or high social class backgrounds or for White and Black male targets from low social class backgrounds. There was a higher likelihood that female participants endorsed affirmative action for White male targets from higher social class backgrounds than for Black male targets from higher social class x

backgrounds. There was no difference in the likelihood that White male participants endorsed affirmative action for Black and White highly prepared targets from low or high social class backgrounds, or to Black and White targets from low social class backgrounds who were moderately prepared. Yet, there was a higher likelihood that White male participants endorsed affirmative action for moderately prepared White targets from high social class backgrounds, than for moderately prepared Black targets from high social class backgrounds. Together, the results suggest that policy endorsements vary according to targets' multiple group memberships simultaneously. The results have implications for policies designed to bolster equal access to higher education and for the psychological study of discrimination perpetration in higher education. XI

Chapter 1 Introduction Persistent disparities in access to higher education have been exacerbated by recent policy initiatives that have abolished the legality of race and gender-based affirmative action (e.g., Leonhardt, 2007), the only policy in the United States that preemptively attempts to address discrimination perpetration (Karger & Stoesz, 1990; Hall, 2004; Harris, 2009). Analyses of affirmative action opposition patterns raise the possibility of the very types of discrimination affirmative action was originally designed to prevent. Specifically, when individuals believe that affirmative action targets students from low social class backgrounds, or the elderly, or the handicapped, individuals endorse the policy more than when affirmative action targets ethnic/racial minorities (Crosby, Iyer, & Sincharoen, 2006; James, Brief, Dietz, & Cohen, 2001; Lowery, Unzueta, Knowles, & Goff, 2006; Murrell, Dietz-Uhler, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 1994; Sidanuis, Singh, Herts, & Federico, 2000). Previous research has treated the selective opposition to affirmative action as an indication of racial prejudice and racism (Eberhardt & Fiske, 1994; Kinder & Sears, 1981; McConahay, 1986). This dissertation argues that racial biases in affirmative action endorsement may also represent instances of discrimination, in addition to holding prejudiced beliefs and endorsing negative stereotypes about ethnic and racial minorities. Because selectively endorsing policies such as affirmative action for particular subsets of low power groups targets represents a behavior demonstrated by individuals with decision making power, and discrimination is 1

defined as the behavioral demonstration of social-category-induced bias, systematic biases against certain subsets of low power groups, such as Blacks and other ethnic minorities can be conceived of as instances of discriminatory bias. Discrimination, unlike the related concepts of stereotyping and prejudice, represents behavioral demonstrations of social category-induced bias. Discrimination is multidimensional and multifaceted, ranging from interpersonal unfair treatment, such as insults to institutional and systemic bias such as Apartheid or the differential sentence laws for crack versus powder cocaine (Braddock & McPartland, 1987; Fernandez, Castilla, & Moore, 2000; Lewis-Trotter & Jones, 2004; Loury, 2001; Mouw, 2002; Royster, 2003; Sidanius, Pratto, van Laar, & Levin, 2004). Less interpersonal and more distal forms of discrimination, such as institutional discrimination, have been deemed the most detrimental forms of discrimination given their ability to negatively influence large numbers of low power targets at once and given the absence of one identifiable perpetrator (Henkel, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2006; Jones, 2000; Lewis-Trotter & Jones, 2004; Sidanius et al., 2004). Given that policy endorsement and other forms of resource allocations represent decision making behaviors, systematic biases in policy endorsements and resource allocations that disproportionately negatively affect low power groups represent one type of discriminatory bias (Augenblick et al., 1997; Biernat et al., 2009; Orfield & Lee, 2005; Massey & Denton, 1993; Pratto, Tatar, & Conway- Lanz, 1999; Sachdev & Bourhis, 1985; Sachdev & Bourhis, 1991). This dissertation examined how discrimination perpetration, operationalized as systematic biases against low power targets in affirmative action endorsement, influenced access to higher education for low power students within and between social groups. 2

The Conceptual Framework The conceptual framework used in this dissertation was created by integrating social psychological theories and methodologies with approaches from sociology, economics, education, and women's studies. Social psychology has asserted that contemporary discrimination is often subtle and perpetrated by self-reported political Liberals, making the empirical investigation of discrimination extremely difficult (Gaertner & Dovidio, 2005). Psychologists and other social scientists have used lab and field based experiments to empirically study contemporary discrimination perpetration. The current research builds from these previous studies and employs experimental methods that attempt to account for subtle, discrimination behaviors, among individuals who may conceive of themselves as fair and unbiased. Social psychological and other research has also shown that discrimination inherently requires social power (e.g., French & Raven, 1959; Griffin et al., 2009; Ragins & Sundstrom, 1989; Yoder & Kahn, 1992). In the current research, where the goal was to ascertain how discrimination perpetration stifles educational access and opportunities, discrimination perpetration was operationalized as systematic biases against low power groups in the allocation of educational policy endorsements. Systematic biases in the decisions to endorse policies represent one mechanism by which discrimination may be perpetrated in higher education. Such biased decisions may subsequently influence the creation and re-creation of the systematically biased policies, procedures, and norms that comprise institutional discrimination. Conceptualizing discrimination as the systematic bias against low power targets in educational policy endorsements thus allows for the 3

investigation of how psychological schemas around decisions to grant aid in access to higher education can contribute to institutional discrimination. Finally, the conceptual framework in this dissertation incorporated intersectionality frameworks (Crenshaw, 1994; Cole, 2009; Cole & Stewart, 2001; Stewart & McDermott, 2004) as a means to assessing discriminatory bias within and between social groups. As mentioned, affirmative action research has shown that Americans endorse the policy more for some low power groups, in comparison to other low power groups. This body of research has not investigated, however how individuals differentially endorse the policy when targets' multiple group memberships are simultaneously made salient. The analyses in this dissertation can thus help inform how individuals make decisions about whether to grant affirmative action-type aid when they are faced with a decision that primes multiple group membership. This type of decision making situation provides a context that more closely mimics how powerholders often have to make educational decisions in real life contexts. The analyses also have the potential to provide an empirical investigation of one of the most basic assumptions in intersectionality research—that powerholders exhibit differential sets of out-group bias depending on targets' multiple group memberships. In sum, the conceptual framework in this dissertation synthesized affirmative action, discrimination perpetration, and intersectionality research to investigate how biases in affirmative action endorsement can influence students' access to higher educational contexts. The Three Papers Discrimination is generally defined as the systematic behavioral manifestation of social category-based bias targeted against group members with low levels of social 4

power (Allport, 1954; Fiske, 1998; Larwood, Gutek, & Gattiker, 1984; Pincus, 1996; Sidanius et al., 2004). Despite this relatively straightforward definition, there is often confusion about what discrimination is and what it is not. Paper one reviews relevant literature on discrimination perpetration, especially as it relates to higher educational contexts. The second and third papers are reports on experiments that investigate how discrimination perpetration, in the form of biased affirmative action endorsements, depends on targets' multiple group memberships simultaneously. Paper two investigates biases in the endorsement of gender-based affirmative action. Paper three investigates social class-based affirmative action endorsements, when targets' race, gender, and social class group memberships are simultaneously salient. Together the three papers situate systematic biases in policy allocations within discrimination perpetration frameworks that speak to recent debates about how to create more equity in higher education. The dissertation studies also suggest that interventionists and policy makers may want to consider designing and implementing policies that take into account targets' multiple group memberships simultaneously, in addition to their social group memberships in isolation of each other. 5

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Chapter 2 Applying Discrimination Perpetration to the Study of Educational Disparities: A Social Psychological (Yet Interdisciplinary) Approach Scientists and laypersons alike tend to personify structural entities such as markets, countries, and institutions, discussing structures as if they have agency in and of themselves. Instead, complex systems of human beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors combine with socially defined norms, policies, procedures, spaces, and traditions to influence how structural entities help shape social outcomes (Acker, 2006; Massey & Denton, 1993; Massey & Lundy, 2001; Mullahy & Wolfe, 2001; Sidanius, Pratto, van Laar, & Levin, 2004; Stewart & McDermott, 2004; Williams, 2004; Yinger, 2001;). This implies that there is a very real psychological component to structural forces (Acker, 2006; Henkel, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2006; Shields, 2008; Sidanius, et al., 2004; Stewart & McDermott, 2004, Tajfel, 1982; Verloo, 2006), yet there is a dearth of psychological research that examines social disparities at the intersection of individual and structural levels (Sidanius et al., 2004; Stewart & McDermott, 2004). Accordingly, the current review discusses how the psychological study of discrimination perpetration can create a discourse on the human behavioral dimensions of the structural processes that contribute to social disparities. Discrimination perpetration will be reviewed primarily from a psychological perspective. Yet, because the question of social disparities is inherently an interdisciplinary one, the review will also include research perspectives and findings from other fields including sociology, economics, education 9

and Women's Studies. The review will focus most heavily on how studying discrimination perpetration can be informative in the realm of between and within group educational disparities, but the discussion in this paper may also be applied to studying other social disparities, such as health, income, and wealth disparities. Discrimination Can Be Investigated Via Two Main Approaches Discrimination Experiences. Theoretically, there should be at least two major ways that discrimination can negatively influence low power group members. First, discrimination should lead to negative outcomes for low power group members when they appraise treatment as unfair (Clark, Anderson, Clark & Williams, 1999; Harrell, 1999; Harrell, 2000; Jones, 2000; King, 2005; Klonoff & Landrine, 1999; Lewis-Trotter & Jones, 2004; Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2003) and when these appraisals are connected to stress, and other negative affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses that influence psychological, physical health, and social outcomes. The processes by which discrimination experiences harm low power group members are largely independent of the intentional or unintentional behaviors of powerholders (Smith, 2001; Schiller, 2004; Schuman et al., 2001; Williams, et al., 2003). If someone deems a behavior as unfair or biased and this appraisal elicits a response, the cycle of discrimination's influence has been activated (see Figure 2.1). A good portion of the psychological research on discrimination has focused on discrimination experiences. For instance, recent health disparities research has found that acute and chronic, interpersonal and structural discrimination creates stress that can act as a major mechanism by which racial and other disparities are created (e.g., Clark et al., 1999; Fang & Myers, 2001; Krieger & Sidney, 1996; Williams et al., 2003). Research on discrimination experiences in education 10

specifically has also linked students' discrimination experiences to adverse academic and mental health outcomes (e.g., Chavous, et al., 2008; Chavous et al., 2007). Discrimination Perpetration. Discrimination can also negatively affect low power groups via the perpetration of unfair treatment independent of targets' appraisals or responses (Darity & Mason, 1998; Munnell et al., 1996; Pager, 2003; Sidanius et al., 2004). An employee does not need to interpret and respond to her or his resume being overlooked because of their social group membership to be negatively affected by discrimination. Similarly, a student does not need to perceive, appraise, or attribute the unfair treatment of an admissions officer to be harmed by a discriminatory admissions decision. Discrimination perpetration is important to understand given its ability to directly influence low power targets' outcomes (see Figure 2.1). Psychology's heavy focus on discrimination experiences however, particularly in the absence of research on discrimination perpetration, has created a gulf in psychological literature that places an extraordinarily heavy burden on targets' responses to discrimination as a way to ameliorate the negative effects of unfair treatment. Without the same amount of attention placed on understanding the processes by which powerholders' discriminate, interventions designed to minimize disparities will lack key pieces of information (Sue, 2004; Warner, 2008; Yuval-Davis, 2006). Thus, the second major pathway by which discrimination processes can create disparities, and the focus of the current review, is by the perpetration of unfair treatment. Discrimination Perpetration Revealed Discrimination perpetration can be defined as the social category-induced, intentional or unintentional, behavioral demonstration of systematic bias targeted towards 11

low power group members (Fiske, 1998; Sachdev & Bourhis, 1991; Sidanius et al., 2004). Discrimination is linked to social categorization processes (Fiske, 1998; Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000; Turner, 1975), social group hierarchy and prestige (Blumer, 1960; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001), exertions of social power (Acker, 2006; French & Raven, 1959; Kanter, 1977; Karenga, 1982; Ng, 1984; Pratto & Espinoza, 2001; Pratto, Sidanius, & Levin, 2006; Sachdev & Bourhis, 1991; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) and affords dominant individuals, groups, and institutions with sustained privilege that can reproduce itself over time (Acker, 2006; Pratto, Tatar, & Conway-Lanz, 1999; Sidanus, et al., 2004). Because discrimination is explicitly linked to power (Acker, 2006; Apfelbaum, 1979; Ng, 1984; Stewart & McDermott, 2004; Sachdev & Bourhis, 1991; Sidanius et al., 2004), independent of a group's social status, discrimination is discussed in this review within the context of power asymmetries between social groups. Discrimination is related to other psychological concepts such as prejudice and stereotyping (Biernat, Collins, Katzarska-Miller, & Thompson, 2009; Duckitt, 2003; Fiske, 1998; Henkel, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2006), but theoretically and empirically, discrimination should be kept independent from affect and cognition (Fiske, 1998). Although historically discrimination in the United States presented itself in explicitly hostile forms, contemporary discrimination often manifests more covertly and among individuals who self-report egalitarian values (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1996, 1998, 2004; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986; Myrdal, 1944; Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, & Krysan, 1997; Sears, Henry, & Kosterman, 2000) \ Notwithstanding the more recent subtly of 1 Discrimination overall may be more subtle than in previous eras, but it is not always subtle, and definitely may not continue to stay subtle. For example, the fight against gay marriage mirrors almost exactly the logic used at the turn of the last century to justify laws that forbade Blacks from getting married and that 12

Full document contains 137 pages
Abstract: This dissertation examined how discrimination perpetration, operationalized as systematic biases against low power targets in affirmative action endorsement, influenced access to higher education within and between groups. The dissertation provided a description and review of discrimination perpetration. In this review, discrimination perpetration was distinguished from the experience of discrimination; the psychological components of institutional discrimination, the role of intersectionality, and the importance of considering context were also discussed. The review served as a foundation for two subsequent empirical studies. The first empirical study examined gender-based affirmative action endorsements for targets when their race and gender were simultaneously made salient. This study found that White female participants endorsed gender-based affirmative action equally for all targets. White male participants were more likely to endorse gender-based affirmative action for White female and Black male targets, than for Black female targets. The final study investigated social class- based affirmative action when targets' race, class, and gender were simultaneously salient, and when ambiguity was manipulated via the targets' preparedness. There were no differences in the likelihood that White female participants endorsed affirmative action for White and Black female targets from low or high social class backgrounds or for White and Black male targets from low social class backgrounds. There was a higher likelihood that female participants endorsed affirmative action for White male targets from higher social class backgrounds than for Black male targets from higher social class backgrounds. There was no difference in the likelihood that White male participants endorsed affirmative action for Black and White highly prepared targets from low or high social class backgrounds, or to Black and White targets from low social class backgrounds who were moderately prepared. Yet, there was a higher likelihood that White male participants endorsed affirmative action for moderately prepared White targets from high social class backgrounds, than for moderately prepared Black targets from high social class backgrounds. Together, the results suggest that policy endorsements vary according to targets' multiple group memberships simultaneously. The results have implications for policies designed to bolster equal access to higher education and for the psychological study of discrimination perpetration in higher education.