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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Donald Jr. Mitchell, Charlana Simmons and Lindsay A. Greyerbiehl

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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Chapter Seventeen: Demographic Information Collection in Higher Education and Student Affairs Survey Instruments: Developing a National Landscape for Intersectionality



Developing a National Landscape for Intersectionality


Within the fields of higher education and student affairs, there are a select number of national surveys that provide data for a considerable amount of empirical analyses. Because of their wide recognition and publication volume, findings from these analyses have the potential to shape the discourse of research on students in higher education and student affairs. Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) wrote, “[A] number of national data sets, which produce a substantial portion of the evidence on the impact of college on students, have become targets of opportunity for large numbers of social scientists” (p. 15). These national quantitative datasets significantly permeate tier-one journals within the fields of higher education and student affairs and the disciplines of sociology, economics, and political sciences. It is possible that these national surveys not only influence the entire body of literature in these broad fields and disciplines but also policies and administrative practices.

Though these national quantitative datasets heavily permeate research publications, scholarly communities do not have a holistic or transparent understanding of how participant information is collected. With a growing emphasis on intersectional survey research (Cole, 2009; Davis, 2008; McCall, 2005), there is a need to examine the ways in which these influential surveys collect demographic information across various social identities.

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