Prof Eve L. Ewing – “Why I capitalise White”

“Many Black people I know say that they capitalize Black as a show of respect, pride, and celebration, and they don’t want to afford the same courtesy to Whiteness. But we frequently capitalize words for reasons other than respect – words like Holocaust, or Hell […]. When we ignore the specificity and significance of Whiteness – the things that it is, the things that it does – we contribute to its seeming neutrality and thereby grant it power to maintain its invisibility.”
– Prof Eve L. Ewing (2020), I’m a Black Scholar Who Studies Race. Here’s Why I Capitalize ‘White.’

Stock photos – beyond white cishet abled bodies

From a LinkedIn post by Lennart Nacke (2022)

  1. Queer in Tech
  2. CreateHerStock
  3. Disabled And Here
  4. The Gender Spectrum
  5. Photoability
  6. Canva Natural Women
  7. Getty Images Lean-In Collection
  8. UK Black Tech
  9. WOCinTechChat (also on Unsplash)
  10. Jopwell
  11. Shopify Burst Women Collection
  12. TONL collections
  13. Nappy collection
  14. People of Colour on Unsplash
  15. AllGo Plus Size collection (also on Unsplash)
  16. Elevate and represent a diverse Internet
  17. Disability Inclusive Stock Photography
  18. LGBTQ+ on Pexels
  19. Iwaria
  20. Mocha stock (this one didn’t work when I tried 9 Aug 2022 – maybe just overloaded)
  21. POCStock
  22. PICNOI
  23. Diversity photos
  24. Eye for Ebony
  25. ColorJoy Stock

Opportunity hoarding / social closure

“In order for certain jobs to confer high income and special advantages, it is important for their incumbents to have various means of excluding others from access to them. This is also sometimes referred to as a process of social closure, in which access to a position becomes restricted. One way of doing this is by creating requirements that are very costly for people to fulfill.”

– Wright, E. O. (2009, p. 104). [Understanding Class: Towards an Integrated Analytical Approach. New Left Review, 60, 101–116.]

Privilege hazard

“The problems of gender and racial bias in our information systems are complex, but some of their key causes are plain as day […]. When data teams are primarily composed of people from dominant groups, those perspectives come to exert outsized influence on the decisions being made—to the exclusion of other identities and perspectives. This is not usually intentional; it comes from the ignorance of being on top. We describe this deficiency as a privilege hazard.”

– Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein (2020). Data feminism. MIT Press.


Gender first, then race – social class is modelled on the other two

‘To say that the struggle of workers in a factory is “more real” than the struggle of black people against institutionalized exploitation, or than queer struggle against heteronormativity, is not just unjust, it is inaccurate. In truth, if we were forced to articulate a chronology for the naturalization of socially antagonistic identity assignments, we would have to say that gender appears first, and then race, and that class, in the historical sense, happens last, and is modeled on the other two.’

– Adam Pendleton (2017), Afterward to Black Dada

Why is evaluation so white?

Useful resources to explore:

“I have been in too many meetings where a racialised person has felt they’ve had to speak about their lived experience, at great personal cost […]. Sometimes, the individual’s point is directly challenged or downplayed. In a head-spinning moment of gaslighting, they are left isolated and disbelieved, despite (or, perhaps, because) they are the racialised person specifically invited to the meeting to explain why the racist thing is racist.”

‘I’m sometimes asked, “Why are there so few people of color in evaluation?” I flip the question: “Why is evaluation so white?” And answer: “Because our labor is actively erased.”

‘Of the 35 recipients of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award since 1977, 28 evaluators listed in the sacred Evaluation Theory Tree published in 2004, 22 evaluators featured in the related Evaluation Roots book published in 2004, and 16 evaluators featured by AEA’s Oral History Project since 2003, not one has been a woman of color or indigenous woman.

‘This omission can lead us to conclude that for the last 40 years, no women of color or indigenous women have been academically trained as evaluators, conducting formal evaluations, and engaged in scholarship on evaluation—let alone engaged in evaluative thinking and critical inquiry that are considered outside the boundaries of evaluation. Or that their work is fringe.

‘The evaluation work of several women of color and indigenous women allows us to do the work that we do every day. This post aims to repair the miseducation of evaluators of all ages and experience levels…’

Further resources, e.g.,

It’s striking how issues discussed in the 70s are still relevant now, e.g., concerning the impossibility of using IQ tests (and covert proxies thereof) to improve outcomes rather than simply to blame a child and excuse education systems for poor outcomes.

‘At its core, evaluation is value laden and embued with and responsive to a larger social political order, and evaluators are situated within contexts of study and within interactions of the setting that shape the evaluation study’s logic, structure, and practices (Hopson, Greene, Bledsoe, Villegas, & Brown, 2007). The question of “Who evaluates and why?” highlights the contexts, agendas, and intentions of the evaluation and the evaluator and so raises questions about practices—sometimes commonly accepted ones—and the structures of power and the uses of those power structures for or against hegemony.’ [p. 418]

This cites The oral history of evaluation, part 3: The professional evolution of Michael Scriven, which provides a clue – hiding in plain sight – to why the official history of evaluation is as it is (bold emphasis added):

“Now, there was the May 12th group, which was ahead of the game. The May 12th group was so called after the first date on which they met [in “about 1968”, says Gene Glass–AF]—but the general feeling was if we call it the May 12th group, that will have absolutely zero cachet, and so no one will be able to argue that they were entitled to join the May 12th group because it’s called something generic. And so the idea was you got invited to the May 12th group, and if you weren’t invited, then you weren’t in, and so there was no official stuff. So, they would meet in somebody’s house once a year. […] But some of us felt that we needed to do something that was slightly more official, and we’d got to start making this more than the intellectual elite group.”

The May 13 Group formed on that date in 2020 to challenge this.

‘Evaluation is political. At its simplest, evaluation is the systematic “process of determining the merit, worth and value of things” (Scriven, 1991, p. 1). Who gets to decide, the questions, the process, and the criteria for determining merit, worth, value, or significance—all of these matter.’ [p. 534]

‘As professionals and practitioners, we can no longer sit on the sidelines wearing the cape of objectivity and neutrality, a cape that shields beliefs and assumptions about knowledge, rigor, and evidence and which elevate a Western White worldview. [..] Everyday narratives that continue to marginalize, minimize, and disrespect people of color and those with less privilege could be replaced with ones that do not demonize and place blame on the individual. They could instead lift up the historical, contextual, and powerful dynamics that create and sustain oppression and shed light on the strategies and solutions which can shift the “rules of the game,” so that equity is achievable.’ [p. 538]

“Advisors of evaluation graduate students of colour should create spaces for students to express their feelings and, if they choose, be vulnerable and open about the stressors of simply being a person of colour in a world with white supremacy woven into its very fabric. “

“Whenever a prospective student emails me, I put them in touch with current students in my department. I find this is especially important for international students; I am unable to speak to how the culture in North Carolina and in our department differs from their home culture. I also aim to introduce students to faculty across campus who have similar cultures and backgrounds”

“Advisors of evaluation graduate students of colour can research or have conversations about the norms and dates associated with the holidays and events that their students observe. […] While I can’t know all the traditions observed by my students, I encourage them to inform me about their cultural and religious traditions as appropriate.”

“… advisors and mentors should also practice giving microvalidations […], small acts and words that validate who graduate students believe they can be. My post-doctoral advisor always praised me in public and raised concerns in private. I regularly let my advisees know that I am proud of them, see their potential, and believe in them. I learn every student’s name and work to pronounce their names correctly. And I make a concerted effort to refer to my advisees as my colleagues.”

“… evaluators of color noted that the burden of addressing DEI and calling out racism is often placed on them as they are assumed to be experts…”

“… evaluators of color cited examples of being tapped to join an evaluation project when philanthropic clients asked for demographics of staff in their RFPs, yet not feeling meaningfully included in the subsequent work…”

“When organizations have difficulty retaining staff of color, they often perceive the person of color as the problem, not the ecosystem that reinforces inequities. Persistent challenges with retention should signal a need for the organization to self-reflect on its culture and make changes…”

Intersectionality, in under 200 words

If we try to eliminate pay gaps by monitoring only single characteristics like gender or ethnicity, we can still end up with pay gaps between combinations of characteristics. One way to do this would be to appoint white women and Black men to senior management positions, but not appoint any Black women.

The idea of an intersection comes from set theory and describes where two sets overlap. For instance, the intersection of the set of Black people and the set of women is the set of Black women.

Venn diagram illustrating the intersection between women and Black people

Intersectionality is a broad framework that promotes the study and elimination of oppression and exploitation of people in terms of combinations of characteristics.

Is intersectionality a theory, explaining why this form of discrimination occurs? Here’s Patricia Hill Collins (2019, p.51), a leading scholar in this area:

“Every time I encounter an article that identifies intersectionality as a social theory, I wonder what conception of social theory the author has in mind. I don’t assume that intersectionality is already a social theory. Instead, I think a case can be made that intersectionality is a social theory in the making.”


Collins, P. H. (2019).  Intersectionality As Critical Social Theory. Duke University Press.