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Ruth Enid Zambrana

Profile Photo of Ruth Zambrana

Distinguished University Professor, The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Affiliate Professor, American Studies

(301) 405-4552

2101 Woods Hall
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Research Expertise

Higher Education
Institutional Discrimination
Latinx Studies
Reproductive Health
Reproductive Justice

Ph.D. (1977) Boston University, M.A. (1971) University of Pennsylvania, B.A. (1969) Queens College City University of New York

Ruth Enid Zambrana, Ph.D., is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies, Director of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity and Adjunct Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Medicine. Dr. Zambrana’s scholarship applies a critical intersectional lens to structural inequality and racial, Hispanic ethnicity, and gender inequities in population health and higher education trajectories. Her recent work includes an anthology with Sylvia Hurtado, The Magic Key: The Educational Journey of Mexican Americans From K-12 College and Beyond (UT Press, 2015); an edited volume with Virginia Brennan and Shiriki Kumanyika, entitled Obesity Interventions in Underserved U.S. Communities: Evidence and Directions (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); Latinos in American Society: Families and Communities in Transition (Cornell University Press, 2011). Awards include the 2013 American Public Health Association Latino Caucus, Founding Member Award for Vision and Leadership, 2013 University of Maryland Outstanding Woman of Color Award for her lifetime achievements, and the 2011 Julian Samora Distinguished Career Award by the American Sociological Association, Sociology of Latinos/as Section for her contributions to the sociology of Latinos and immigrant studies, teaching and mentoring. She was Principal Investigator of a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Understanding the Relationship between Work Stress at U.S. Research Institutions’ Failure to Retain Underrepresented Minority (URM) Faculty and her book, entitled Toxic Ivory Towers: The Health Consequences of Work Stress on the Health of Underrepresented Minority Faculty is in press. The most recent award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Expanding the Bench program initiative, aims to translate these new findings on URM faculty barriers and challenges into higher education policies to enhance retention and promotion.

Major Areas of Research: Women and health: Race, Ethnicity, and SES Latinos in the U.S.: Family, Community, and Class Chronic Health Conditions in Life Course Trajectories Inequity in Access to Pathways to Higher Education


Toxic Ivory Towers: The Consequences of Work Stress on Underrepresented Minority Faculty

A new book by Ruth Enid Zambrana documents the professional work experiences of underrepresented minority faculty in U.S. higher education.

Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity | The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Lead: Ruth Enid Zambrana

By Ruth Enid Zambrana, professor and interim chair of women’s studies, director of the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity

"Toxic Ivory Towers," seeks to document the professional work experiences of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty in U.S. higher education, and simultaneously address the social and economic inequalities in their life course trajectory. Ruth Enid Zambrana finds that despite the changing demographics of the nation, the percentages of Black and Hispanic faculty have increased only slightly, while the percentages obtaining tenure and earning promotion to full professor have remained relatively stagnant. Toxic Ivory Towers is the first book to take a look at the institutional factors impacting the ability of URM faculty to be successful at their jobs, and to flourish in academia. The book captures not only how various dimensions of identity inequality are expressed in the academy and how these social statuses influence the health and well-being of URM faculty, but also how institutional policies and practices can be used to transform the culture of an institution to increase rates of retention and promotion so URM faculty can thrive.