Why the under-representation of ethnic minorities?

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12osnst
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Why the under-representation of ethnic minorities?

Post by 12osnst » Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:04 am

Following on from the wiki-post here

I am a black british postgraduate who is interested in applying for CP training. In response to this article, I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts as to why ethnic minorities are poorly represented in this area. This article seems to partially suggest a lack of academic achievment or poor grades as a possible explanation. However, I feel (probably biased to feel this way) that this most likely does not fully eplain the issue. My question primarily is whether those in this field feel that this issue is a result of a lack of interest from ethnic minorities or down to other factors in selection.

Any thoughts?

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maven
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Post by maven » Sun Sep 16, 2007 4:38 am

Hi 12osnt, welcome to the forum. I've moved your post out of the wiki into the discussion area so that people can see it and respond.

I think that when you look at the clearing house figures, the proportions of different ethnic groups being selected for training very much represent the pool of applicants. You can see this year's equal opps figures here: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/chpccp/basiceopps.htm and at the bottom of the page there are links to the previous two years of figures.

At the top of the page there is a good discussion about how the qualifications and GBR status of applicants in any of the minority groups (older, male, non-white, with dependents, not living in the UK) were lower than those in the majority groups. It is also known, as highlighted in the article discussed in the wiki, that the grade of qualifications, especially the class of degree (and now maybe even the percentage) is a strong predictor of success in the selection process, along with having a CP reference, and relevant experience.

I think from looking at the figures that some of the bias comes from preferring candidates who are resident in the UK . However, UK resident candidates are more likely to have GBR, but also to have experience of the NHS and to know the role of clinical psychology in the UK, so I don't think it will be racism at play, but a legitimate bias towards those who have the required qualification and understand the role best. What isn't given is a cross-tab of ethnic origin by current location of residence to see if my hypothesis is correct, but you might be able to contact the clearing house and ask if you have any specific questions.

I think there is genuine willingness within the profession to try to increase diversity within the profession. However, there is also a very high level of competition, and a need to select the best candidates for training from the pool of applicants. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any suggestions as to how we can begin to address this.

I think my suggestion would be that the profession think about some form of bursary or grant for undergraduate students from minority groups to create some visible encouragement to consider CP as a profession, and to ensure that candidates who show great academic promise do not drop out of the pathway for financial reasons. It might also be appropriate to think about establishing some "foot in the door" posts that are particularly applicable to candidates from minority groups (it might also meet the need of the NHS to reach out to meet the mental health needs of a more culturally diverse section of the population).
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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Mr Ben
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Post by Mr Ben » Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:41 am

maven wrote:I think my suggestion would be that the profession think about some form of bursary or grant for undergraduate students from minority groups to create some visible encouragement to consider CP as a profession, and to ensure that candidates who show great academic promise do not drop out of the pathway for financial reasons.
But isn't that 'positive discrimination' though? Could it be deemed as unfair to people who are not from minority groups? Also, isn't it a bit patronising (I'm not calling you patronising of course, Maven :) ) to offer help and assistance to people because they're in a minority - as if they can't cope without it?

I think that maybe making the career more appealing to those in monority groups, is a good idea... but then, maybe that's positive discrimination, too...? Perhaps the issue starts at pre-undergrad. level? Are enough people from minority backgrounds being encouraged to look at psychology?

Maybe the number of people joining Clin courses - or Psych jobs in general, just represents the overal population as a whole - what I mean, is that maybe the country has...I don't know - 10 times more 'white' than say Black people - and this is represented in micro form on the courses. Maybe there isn't an issue?

Also: Tony Blair said something along the lines of wanting 50% (at least) of the population to go to university. Well, what if loads of those people don't want to go to university - what if the reason that there are less minority groups in the career, is because they don't want to do it!

I struggle with this a little sometimes because, I can't help but think about how small and tiny and insignificant we all are compared to the size of the universe - we're all the same - all people who are going to live for around 90-100 years then disappear. just 90-100 years... Tortoise can live for 250 years - and the species as a whole have roamed the planet for well over 200 million years! (Just puts life in to perspective!)

Having said that of course, it runs deeper than that because there's the cultural thing and the representation is about the people we help - many of whom, as well as being white, christian will be black, muslim, jewish etc and having a psychologist that is of the same culture or creed, is going to make you more at ease (but then, maybe by doing that, you're just encouraging a sort of segregation...where people can discriminate between who they want to see and who they don't - because of their religion? Surely I'm not aloud to say of a nurse, if I am in hospital - "Oh, I don't want to see her - she's not white, middle class, protestant"? Or maybe I can?

Another question's just popped up: do minority groups feel under represented in Clin Psych? Obviously one persons view isn't enough, but if it was found that minority groups did feel represented - then would or should it be left at that?

I think TV is an amazing tool - I bet your second doller that if you had more people from minorities playing key psychologists ('cracker' sorts) in dramas and real 'minority' psychs being interviewed for these tv shows (BB, House of tiny Tearaways...), then you'd have more people from minorities enrolling on to courses... (but then, surely they should be their because they are good actors or psychs - not because of the colour of their skin or their religion...? again, that's positive discrimination - I'd hate to think the only reason I was around, was to 'make up the numbers')!

Another thing, what do we mean by minority? Also, isn't that 'labelling' people - something that a lot of psychological people seem to be dead against?

Just a thought (or 2 :wink: )
just...keep.........going...

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Guest23
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Post by Guest23 » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:17 pm

Aside - of possible interest:

Boyle, M., Baker, M., Bennett, E. & Charman, T. (1993). Selection for clinical psychology courses: A comparison of applicants from ethnic minority and majority groups to the University of East London. Clinical Psychology Forum, 56, 9–13.

Clinical Psychology (May, 2005) - Eurocentric roots of psychology etc: http://www.bps.org.uk/downloadfile.cfm? ... 2C&ext=pdf

BPS document “Widening access within undergraduate psychology education and its implications for professional psychology: gender, disability and ethnic diversity”: http://www.bps.org.uk/downloadfile.cfm? ... E8&ext=pdf

BPS/DCP 'Race' & Culture Special Interest Group: http://www.bps.org.uk/raceandculture/ra ... e_home.cfm

Patel, N., Bennett, E., Dennis, M., Dosanjh, N., Mahtani, N., Miller, A. & Nadirshaw, Z. (Eds.). (2000). Clinical Psychology, ‘Race’ and Culture: A Training Manual. BPS Books: Leicester, UK.

'White Privilege' article: http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/U ... apsack.pdf

Related: viewtopic.php?p=585&highlight=ethnic#585
Last edited by Guest23 on Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The search function is (still) your friend... :wink:

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psych_lad
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Post by psych_lad » Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:52 am

I am a little concerned with the generalisation that ethnic minorities = low SES = need for bursary!

I think what would help is if those schools that have high proportion of ethnic minorities are given more info about clinical psychology at school and colleges.

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psych_lad
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Post by psych_lad » Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:55 am

Oh and just to add, I do not like the label "ethnic minorities" but at the same time I cant think of another more helpful label to desribe anyone who is not white-british.

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Post by clairabella » Mon Sep 17, 2007 4:02 pm

What's wrong with the title ethnic minorities?

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psych_lad
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Post by psych_lad » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:14 pm

I guess it that fact that people from diverse ethnic backgrounds are labelled as "minorities" can somtimes feel a bit exlusive and quite stigmatising. I understand that others may disagree with me but I feel that language is important. I am not sure what else I might be more comfortable with without it sounding to long. I like the term "people from diverse ethnic backgrounds"

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Mr Ben
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Post by Mr Ben » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:19 pm

but minorities just means their are less of them - it's not a view point - just a fact...

The problem with saying "people from diverse ethnic backgrounds" is that it includes everyone - I'm from a diverse ethnic background. If we put everyon e in the same catagory, then...well...I mean... :lol: I know what I mean - it would mean that the whole thing about certain types of people being excluded, would be hard to sort out...

we really can't live in a world without catagorise - it would be rediculous!! :lol:

plus, isn't it terribly patronising? I mean - it's like when you call disabled children 'gifted' or 'special' It's like saying "poor souls, they wont be able to handle the truth, lets just stroke them gently on the hand, tilt our heads at them and go "awwwww bless" and then try our hardest to make them forget their woes by giving them an extra spekle name!!"

:roll: :lol:
Last edited by Mr Ben on Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
just...keep.........going...

James
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Post by James » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:26 pm

psych_lad wrote:I guess it that fact that people from diverse ethnic backgrounds are labelled as "minorities" can somtimes feel a bit exlusive and quite stigmatising. I understand that others may disagree with me but I feel that language is important. I am not sure what else I might be more comfortable with without it sounding to long. I like the term "people from diverse ethnic backgrounds"
not wanting to sound picky or anything, but diverse from what? white british? sounds a bit ukcentric to me and not a lot different to ethnic minority. ethnicity shouldn't even play a role in selection - it should be based on ability to do the job. It is not the resposibility of selection panels to ensure that ethnic minorities are motivated from a young age or that they received an 'upbringing suitable for success in CP.'

Sometimes being overly politically correct can have detrimental effects. If someone belongs to a given ethnic group, and that group happens to be in the minority compared to other ethnic groups, then surely there is nothing but proudness and individuality to come from that, not stigma.

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Post by zena » Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:47 pm

some interesting comments have been posted here. As a black woman hoping to enter into a career in applied psychology, I think the potential use of positive discrimination is not appropriate. There is a lack of information at pre-undergraduate leve which ought to be addressed through the careers services, I for one, fell into studying psychology by accident and it was something I hadnt realised applied to all walks of life.

I do think there is the 'glass ceiling' effect in place. I for one and a few others I know of have twice applied for a place for educational psychology courses. All of us having extensive experience and representing the minorities the service is 'desperate' to recruit. however, in both intakes of students from the conversion from the MA to the Phd, there have been 2 black students, and around 3 asian student in the first intake and i dont anticipate there being greater intake numbers this year.
There is I beleive a notion that its the middle classes who enter this profession and because of that, there is inevitably a lack of representation. Someone mentioned that within CP there is a need to reflect the differing cultures that access this service, the same can be said for the EP service.
I do also agree with the experience issue. I have to this date written numerous letters offering my services and I have a very good educational background and good work experience, yet Im continually overlooked-by the professionals who seek to recruit a diverse workforce.


My thoughts-i hope i dont sound blighted are to KEEP TRYING. if all else fails, i do beleive there are good grounds to call for an investigation.

Does anyone know the figures for minority ethnic intakes in the London and South east region?

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Post by kooky » Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:02 pm

In response to 12osnst question of why ethnic minorities are under represented in CP.

I think the main problem is lack of education of the nature and purpose of CP or general undergraduate psychology for that matter. Psychology degrees aren't a particular popular choice for those from ethnic minorities when compared to other degrees and so therefore there are fewer numbers to work with to start off with.

Not to generalise but coming from an ethnic background myself. The largest ethnic minority by far in the UK is the Asian population and in Eastern culture many british born asians feel under pressure to please their parents when it comes to making career choices. Many are attracted to careers which have traditionally been prestigous, such as medicine, law, accounting and may not have recieved any information about psychology careers unless their friends or family have pursued related careers.

Secondly there is the social stigma of mental health. There is still lots of stigma associated with mental health, but this is more so apparent in ethnic cultures where people come from countries where mental health traditionally recieves much less attention. People will be less inclined to enter a profession that has a stigma attached to it, especially if family and friends disagree with their career choices.

I do not believe that poor grades or poor education is to blame for under representation. The 2001 census puts british born asians and chinese as the highest academic achieving groups with the general level of education amongst minorities as being quite high.

I do agree with Zena in stating that there may possibily be a glass ceiling that people may reach although this is also true of many other professions. It is unacceptable to discrimate against someone on the grounds of race, creed, colour, background these days but it would be unrealistic to believe that it doesn't happen at all. Studies frequently show non caucasians are less likely to be shortlisted for interview or awarded positions when compared to their caucasians counterparts with similiar qualifications.

At the end of the day I think most people from an ethnic background wanting to pursue CP are pretty tired from all the PC talk. Someones most distinguishing feature should be their personality, character and what their bring to their work rather than the colour of their skin. This BME business is getting a bit thin. Most people would identify themselves as British rather than anything else. Trying to syphon people off into little groups just breeds the feeling that people aren't intergrating.

One final thought. I can't speak for others my in my experience of the Asian community choosing a CP career oriented route is a consideration of opportunity cost. There are no guarantees yet the benchmark is constantly being set higher and higher. If you were a bright Alevel student with 3 As at Alevel would you want to choose CP route or something that leads to professional registration straight after graduating? Most families would push their children towards pursuing a more stable route. Not knocking CP as a profession but I'm sure everyone on here knows the road is long and tough with competition at every level.

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maven
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Post by maven » Tue Sep 18, 2007 8:38 pm

I'm a bit confused because when I read a lot of these comments they seem to show a bit of attribution to ethnic origin that I wouldn't necessarily make.

For example, Psychlad, I mentioned a bursary to increase the profile of CP as a profession to minority groups and to ensure that people don't drop out of a career path that otherwise appeals for financial reasons. Firstly I did not ever in my post mention "ethnic minorities" I only spoke of "minority groups" in which I included people with disabilities, people with dependents, males, and people from non-white-british backgrounds. In fact, ahead of your posts, the only person who had mentioned the term was the OP, who was classing him/herself within this category.

By the term "minority groups" I just meant "anyone who doesn't fit the dominant demographic being selected" and there was nothing judgemental about that from my point of view. It is therefore more your construct than mine that
ethnic minorities = low SES = need for bursary!
In my head I was recalling other discussions in which people had said that older applicants and those with dependents (both minority groups amongst applicants) found the lack of financial support more difficult than others who were young and used to living frugally or had parents who could support them.

It is also interesting to me that people attribute lack of selection (or lack of information at school) to their ethnic origin. I'm not at all sure that they haven't had the same experience as many other people, including young, middle class, white, female, applicants without dependents or disabilities. The level of competition is so high that a lot of people just don't make the cut, and the profession isn't very well understood by the public generally. It might feel more comfortable to externalise that to prejudice inherent in the system (just as other people might attribute it to chance) but that isn't the same as having evidence that there is actually bias. You need to bear in mind that it would be hard to identify ethnic origins from from the application form received (given this doesn't give your name, age, address, or equal opps info). As far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that minority groups are better represented in interviews than in offers (which might suggest that seeing or hearing people's ethnicity and other physical attributes influences selection).

I do think there are some generalised cultural attributions about the value of mental health, and the relative merits of certain professional groups, but these are going to need tackling in a variety of ways in order to widen the use of services as well as recruitment to the profession, and that isn't an area exclusive to CP. I'd be curious about how we compare to nursing or medicine (or psychiatry specifically) in terms of the demographic profile we attract, and about how these relative groups are changing in demograhics over time...
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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Spatch
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Post by Spatch » Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:08 pm

I think a shift to more transparent recruitment and selection procedures will make a difference in minority groups being given a shot.

However, I am worried that the stats seem to be as low as ever, despite the best efforts of courses, but New Ways of Working if implemented effectively could change all that.

There was something in this months Clinical Psychology Forum that talked about greater investment and support in Statement of Equivelence being a way to remedy the problem of under representation, and I personally think this is something that WILL have a huge positive effect on diversity if there is the political will behind it.

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Post by Mr.M » Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:36 pm

Something of passing interest

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7001371.stm

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