Theory, Research, & Praxis
Chapter Eight: Living Intersectionality in the Academy
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LEAH J. REINERT AND GABRIEL R. SERNA
From its establishment, higher education has operated within a patriarchal system. Institutions of higher education are still overwhelmingly led and run by White men (Bystydzienski & Bird, 2006). Indeed, the reward system in the academy is heavily influenced by a historical legacy that decidedly values Whiteness, maleness, and heterosexuality over other identities (Cress & Hart, 2009). The literature indicates that the academy continues to operate within a distinctly patriarchal and androcentric structure (e.g., Acker, 2006; Cress & Hart, 2009; Dill & Kohlman, 2012; Hirshfield & Joseph, 2011; Mason & Goulden, 2004). Encompassed in the patriarchal and androcentric structure is the assumption of the normative “straight, White, and male” that supports and sustains heteronormativity within the climate and culture of academia (Bilimoria & Stewart, 2009; Danby, 2007; Rankin, 2005). Within the academic culture and climate, identities socially marked as subordinate to the dominant norm are often pressured to exist on the periphery, to be within the culture but to make invisible certain identities in particular contexts, in order to enable achievement and success (Carbado, 2013; Dill, 2009). For those in academia who are already on the periphery, the academic environment can serve to further marginalize those multiple identities that inform their research and teaching. It also can mediate the way policies in the academy, especially around these two areas, are experienced and understood. Within academia, often, the more intersecting minority identities one experiences, the more opportunities...
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