Closing the tenure gap for business faculty of color  

Founded by two professors and Wharton alumni, The Tenure Project is on a mission to help more underrepresented junior business faculty receive tenure across the country.

Wharton School Assistant Professor Wendy De La Rosa  and her colleague Esther Uduehi, an assistant professor at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, first met while pursuing their Ph.D.s. Both took part in The PhD Project, a non-profit organization that aims to diversify the business faculty pipeline.

Two people sit outside on a bench talking

Inspired by this approach, they’ve now created The Tenure Project to support underrepresented scholars—Black, Indigenous, and Latinx scholars, for example—through the next big obstacle: obtaining tenure in a historically inequitable system.

In a Q&A with Wharton Stories, De La Rosa and Uduehi touch on the far-reaching issues behind the tenure gap, how they started The Tenure Project, and the success of their first conference.

“You don’t have job security if you don’t have tenure. The default is that if you don’t get tenure, you are forced to uproot your entire family and move to a different part of the country. The whole process—understanding why you didn’t get tenure or what was the reason for that—can often be a black box, especially for students that have built a rapport or a relationship with a specific faculty member,” says De La Rosa. “If a faculty is untenured, there’s always a chance that they may not be back at the institution. It’s all about, “How do we create an equitable system where everybody has an equal seat at the table?” And without tenure, you may not even be at the table.”

Esther and I created The Tenure Project with a singular goal of helping underrepresented junior faculty in business schools get tenure. And that is our golden post,” says De La Rosa. “The more that we can help move that metric forward, I think the better institutions will be.”

This story is by Gloria Yuen. Read more at Wharton Stories.