Stanford has released new demographic data about students, faculty and staff on three new dashboards on the IDEAL website. The IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access in a Learning Environment) initiative is a key part of the university’s Long-Range Vision.

The new faculty dashboard displays demographics by department, appointment type, rank and tenure status. The student dashboard shows the numbers of first-generation and low-income undergraduate students in recent cohorts, the detailed race/ethnicity profile of the current student body and the demographics of individual majors and fields of study. Staff data can be viewed by school, business unit or job family. There is also a breakdown by teaching staff, non-teaching staff and clinician educators.

After the release of the first IDEAL dashboards in 2019, the most dominant request in the feedback received from the campus community was to present information in greater detail. These new visualizations are a response to that feedback.

“Never before have we released demographic data about the Stanford community at this level of detail,” said Provost Persis Drell. “The reason we’re sharing this information is to improve transparency about who we are and monitor our progress toward all forms of equality. We will not make advancements in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion unless we have a clear picture of our community, and can see where we need to improve and measure how we’re progressing.”

Access limited

In recognition of privacy concerns, access to these new IDEAL dashboards is limited to users in the Stanford community with a valid SUNet ID (Stanford University Network Identifier). Users accessing the new dashboards will be held to terms of appropriate use, which include not sharing the data with those without a SUNet ID.

“In trying to balance the issues of privacy and transparency, we made a decision not to make all the data available to the public. Many of the data sets are small, which could lead to situations where individuals could be identified,” said Drell.

The provost said that future iterations may include data on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as more detailed ethnic information.

“Going forward, we want to ensure that the data better reflect identities as people within our community experience them,” she said. “We’ve chosen to display the data we do have now while acknowledging that some members of our community do not feel that their identities are well-represented by the categories we are using.”

The basic schema Stanford uses for reporting race/ethnicity comes from the Department of Education. The university is also looking at ways to improve its internal data collection practices in order to expand the way identities are represented.

“When looking at the data on race and ethnicity in these new dashboards, it’s important to remember that these data are based on the choices of individual community members, and that they may not have seen themselves in the category options given. In addition, some community members chose not to identify their race and/or ethnicity,” said Drell.

Deeper dive

While the dashboards represent a much deeper dive into the composition of the Stanford community, the data are limited to what information was available and consistent. For example, because Stanford’s job classification structure underwent significant changes in early 2015, the data on the staff dashboard begins with the 2015–16 academic year.

The initial iteration of the IDEAL dashboard, showing the composition of the Stanford community from 2010 to the present, was launched in May 2019. This dashboard remains visible to the public and allows viewers to compare sex and race/ethnicity data across five populations – undergraduate students, graduate students, professoriate faculty, postdoctoral scholars and staff. Users can drill down to view data by year and by school or unit and view trends for each population over time.

The dashboards are a project of the research group of the IDEAL initiative. The Office of Institutional Research & Decision Support (IR&DS) developed the dashboards and continues to maintain them, updating the data every year.

“One of our most important university-wide goals is to advance diversity and inclusion. We want to ensure that a diversity of races and ethnicities, cultures, gender and gender identity, sexual orientations, beliefs, abilities, backgrounds and identities is thriving at Stanford. The IDEAL dashboards are intended to help move us toward that goal,” said Drell.