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Study: Age As Aspect of Identity Not Prioritized by University DEI Offices

Age is not a factor that is often prioritized when it comes to DEI efforts, according to a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.Natalie GaluciaNatalie Galucia

The study, Age as a Factor in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in Higher Education, was conducted between February 2022 and January 2023 and published in the Journal of Gerontological Social Work.

Through a series of focus groups and individual interviews, the researchers collected responses about the role age plays in DEI initiatives from 42 DEI personnel members from 36 higher ed institutions – 14 private and 22 public schools across 19 U.S. states.

“Increases in life expectancy call for educational systems to change orientation toward age and the longer life course,” the report read. “As people are living and working longer, the need for on-going education and training grows. Today, student bodies are more age-diverse, employees are working longer, and classrooms and offices are becoming more age-integrated.”

According to the study, age was acknowledged as a factor in the DEI landscape, but it is often not a topic that is given attention.

Even WashU’s own Office of Institutional Equity hasn’t made age a priority, said study co-author Natalie Galucia, manager of the university’s Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging. 

Dr. Nancy Morrow-Howell, Betty Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy at WashU, served as the study’s lead author. Sophie Mauk, a former research assistant at the Aging Center, was listed as another co-author.

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