Professor Deirdre Bowen wins prize for article examining affirmative action
(August 18, 2010) An article written by Deirdre Bowen, Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills, won the Junior Faculty Writing Competition sponsored by the National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference at Seton Hall University School of Law.
Her article, "Grutter's Regrets: An Empirical Investigation of How Affirmative Action Is(n't) Working," examines whether students of color enjoy the benefits articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grutter decision that rationalized the continuation of affirmative action based on diversity interests. She will present her paper and receive the award at the conference next month.
Bowen conducted a national survey of under-represented minority students to determine if students of color gain the benefits of diversity. She tested whether a diverse classroom versus a diverse classroom with a critical mass of minority students affected the types of benefits students enjoyed. In addition, the study examined whether the nature of the benefits or the number of students encountering these benefits varied depending on whether the students attended school in affirmative action versus anti-affirmative action institutions.
Her results raise questions about how effective institutions are in creating the type of diversity and critical mass needed to ensure that students of color enjoy the Grutter benefits. While she notes that affirmative action seems to play a role in ensuring students may receive these benefits, Bowen cautions that not enough students of color are actually realizing Grutter's goals. Bowen observes that one of the challenges is reconciling the paradox of diversity in a colorblind world. She makes recommendations so that institutions of higher learning can work to ensure that students of color are not just the producers of diversity but also its beneficiaries.