The project addresses racial inequality in Brazilian higher education. In the last ten years, public policies have been implemented with the aim of including more black and indigenous students in federal universities in Brazil. The result was positive and the number of black and low-income young people in universities increased a lot. On the other hand, the number of black professors in Brazilian higher education is still very low. We used microdata from the Higher Education Census to analyze the percentage of blacks in Higher Education and discuss the reasons for low representation and its consequences.
The report was published on November 20 – a date that marks the celebration of black culture in Brazil. The repercussion on social networks was intense, generating debate in profiles of great national relevance. The project exposes the racial inequality existing in Brazilian universities and provides tools for the subject to be discussed in depth.
The article compares the proportion of black professors at the university with the proportion of black people in the state where the university is based. We consider “adequate” the university in which the proportion of black inhabitants is equal to or greater than that of the State. We chose this methodology because Brazil is a very large and diverse country. While in some states the proportion of blacks is less than 20%, in others they are more than 75% of the population. Therefore, we prefer to analyze each reality separately.
The main impact of the report is to show that elite universities, classified as the best in the country by international rankings, have very few black professors. None of them have the proper amount of blacks. At the University of São Paulo (USP), the most important in the country, only 4% of professors are black. We also show that public policies created to include more black teachers are flawed and insufficient.
Another important impact is to show the consequences of low racial representation in Higher Education. Without diversity, there is no quality debate and universities are an important space for public debate. In addition, experts say that the lack of representation in classrooms ends up discouraging black students from entering higher education.
We use Python and Google Spreadsheet in this project. The pandas library was used to clean, select, cross-check and analyze the data. Google Spreadsheet was used to, after the analysis, organize the data to assemble the graphs. The github with the code is at this link: https://github.com/marihallal/Professores-negros-no-ensino-superior
What was the hardest part of this project?
The hardest part was dealing with the lack of data. The Census provides information on the race of teachers, but this field is not mandatory. About 30% of teachers did not declare race. We had to filter and exclude universities where the rate of self-declaration of race was less than 75%. Also, the 2020 data was late and had not been released. Therefore, we had to work with older data, from 2019.
Despite this, the project managed to deal with the problem and present a very feasible scenario of racial representation in universities. I believe that the work deserves to be awarded because it deals with a subject that is very important, but does not receive as much attention.
What can others learn from this project?
The microdata from the Census of Higher Education in Brazil have already been used in several reports. However, we were able to analyze the same database and extract new guidelines. A great lesson that this report brought is that databases can be inexhaustible sources of agenda, even those that have already been extensively explored by the press — just take a different look at the numbers.