I have spotted a job posting for tenure-track positions at an R1 school in the US, saying that they look for candidates who bring perspectives in their research that reflects membership in groups historically excluded from higher education and the field of X (within public health).

Does this mean that they want to hire someone who is Black/Hispanic and considers their membership in their research? Or does this also include other groups including such as those disabled, veteran, immigrants, Asian, indigenous people, women (depending on fields?), nationality, etc?

My colleagues and friends from different fields have different ideas. Some in social science who study diversity insist the former only and (with some sarcasm) argue that applicants should read the context, while others in fields of STEM, public health, and social science, say that “historically excluded” should be more inclusive like the latter, and/or is meant to be so.

1 Answer 1


The exact groups depend on the institution, but no, it's not just those two groups. It's also not limited to race or ethnicity, since underrepresentation can extend to gender, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, personal and family history, and various other factors.

Sometimes institutions publish their definition of historically underrepresented groups. Here's an arbitrarily selected example (Emory University) that's broadly consistent with common definitions at American universities.

This term refers to groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United States and, according to the Census and other federal measuring tools, includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans.

This is revealed by an imbalance in the representation of different groups in common pursuits such as education, jobs, and housing, resulting in marginalization for some groups and individuals and not for others, relative to the number of individuals who are members of the population involved. Other groups in the United States have been marginalized and are currently underrepresented. These groups may include but are not limited to:

  • Other ethnicities
  • Adult learners
  • Veterans
  • People with disabilities
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals
  • Different religious groups, and
  • Different economic backgrounds
  • 4
    Just to illustrate the point, if the field in question is something like midwifery, men would be a historically excluded group.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 8:41
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    You forgot the group of people whose names start with Wq.
    – markvs
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 12:49
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    @markvs reallly, those are historically excluded? There is a difference between being absent and being excluded.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 13:55
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    @Wrzlprmft really, those are historically excluded? There is a difference between being absent and being excluded.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 13:56
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    @DanRomik: Practically almost certainly (though I am far from an expert). I don’t know whether any “hard” exclusions were ever in effect, but then neither were they for many other cases for a long time – it was just much more difficult if you were in the wrong group.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 14:17

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