New tool checks professors’ syllabi for gender, racial equality

A University of Minnesota professor has developed an online tool that allows her peers a chance to check their syllabi to see if the authors of assigned readings are balanced by gender and race.

Professors can upload their syllabi to the Gender Balance Assessment Tool website to receive an approximate percentage of authors who are women, as well as an approximate breakdown of authors’ races, such as Asian, Black, Hispanic and white.


Its creator, Jane Sumner, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. She said she created the tool because she noticed too often in academia that syllabi are not diverse enough regarding the gender and race of authors of listed readings and she hopes professors will use her website to help diversify their syllabi.

“The basic idea is that a lot of people were interested in the idea of having syllabuses that were more diverse in terms of who the authors were,” Sumner told the Minnesota Daily.


Sumner told the Daily she began to think about the diversity of authors in graduate school when she noticed that white males authored most of the material in her classes.

The Gender Balance Assessment Tool does not actually know the gender nor race of authors when syllabi are uploaded by professors, rather it simply assumes one’s gender and race based on their name only, according to the website. It adds that it does not work well with those who identify as non-binary.


Original Article