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About the Survey

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How was the survey designed?

The IDEAL Research System charged the Assessment and Evaluation Team in IR&DS with designing the survey.  To provide oversight of the design process, the Provost appointed a survey advisory committee composed of individuals with research and/or substantive experience in DEI and survey fields. Committee members representing students and postdocs were chosen by the ASSU Nominations Commission and the SURPAS postdoc association. The survey advisory committee played an important role in helping shape the content of the survey as well as how it was administered. The survey design team also collected extensive feedback from the community through a feedback form sent to the entire campus community as well as many meetings with stakeholders across the University.  This feedback directly informed the final design of the survey instrument.

Survey committee members

Brian Lowery
Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor in the Graduate School of Business and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Shelley Correll
Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden Family Professor of Women's Leadership and Professor, by courtesy, of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business

Linda Boxer
Vice Dean of the School of Medicine and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor

Nancy Ware
Chief of Staff, CIO Office - University IT

Emelyn dela Pena
Associate Vice Provost for Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning - VPSA

Hoda S. Abdel Magid
Postdoctoral Scholar in Health Policy - School of Medicine

Draven Rane
Undergraduate Student - Anthropology, Bioengineering

Shannon Yan
Undergraduate Student - Economics, Graduate Student - Computer Science

Patrick Dunkley
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community

Incorporating Community Feedback

The chart below summarizes some of the feedback we collected from the Stanford community. We received submissions from Stanford students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional), postdocs, faculty, and staff. The size of the bubble below represents the relative frequency of the topic in the feedback we received about what the IDEAL survey should cover. The survey design team used this information to create a survey that we hope reflects many of the themes that emerged from the community during the design process.

The most commonly requested survey topics from community submissions

The size of the circle represents the relative frequency of survey themes in feedback form submissions.

The most commonly requested survey topics from community members were more data about diversity, campus climate, occurrences of adverse behaviors, and solution seeking.


Survey Methodology

The IDEAL DEI Survey instrument covered four topical areas that emerged from the most common themes we heard from the Stanford community: 1) Diversity - increasing the depth and breadth of data available about demographics and identities across all populations at the University, 2) Inclusion and Belonging - providing information about sense of belonging and inclusionary and exclusionary experiences, 3) Harmful Experiences - providing transparent data about the prevalence of experiences with racism and discriminatory and harassing behaviors at Stanford, 4) Informing Action - collecting qualitative information about problematic aspects of the institution as well as information about efforts that community members feel have improved the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of the University.  The IDEAL DEI Survey instrument is publicly available on the survey project website.  Below is a diagram that summarizes the overall flow of the survey. You can access the full survey instrument here.

A survey flow chart that shows the sequence of each section of the survey

Racial or Ethnic Identity and other Demographics Questions

This survey approached collecting racial and ethnic identity information differently than the federal race and ethnicity categories used in the IDEAL dashboards and other university reporting. Survey participants were asked to check all of the categories that apply from the following list: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian or Asian American, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino/a, Middle Eastern or North African, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and White or European. In addition to selecting one or more broad categories, the survey prompted respondents to write in as much specific detail as they desired regarding their racial or ethnic identities. The survey also asked respondents to provide information about their country of origin and religious identity. The survey followed a similar methodology for asking other identity questions (e.g. gender identity and sexuality), allowing participants to select multiple identity categories as well as encouraging write-in responses when survey categories insufficiently captured a respondent's identity. Because many of the demographic questions on the survey allowed respondents to select more than one identity option (for example, respondents could select both Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino/a), in the findings presented on this website survey participants are included in every category with which they identified. You can find more information about the demographic questions included in the survey by accessing the survey instrument or exploring the demographics and identity interactive survey dashboards.

Inclusion and Sense of Belonging at Stanford

The survey covered several different aspects that might contribute to a respondent’s overall experience of inclusion or sense of belonging at Stanford:

  • feeling valued
  • finding groups, communities, or spaces of inclusion or exclusion
  • general aspects of psychological safety while participating in day-to-day activities associated with a respondent’s role at Stanford

The questions in this section of the survey: 1) collected data across different organizational levels of the university (e.g. belonging in a department vs. belonging in a school or at the university more broadly), 2) asked for information about spaces at Stanford where people have felt welcomed as well as places that have felt exclusionary, and 3) asked about feelings of safety in the academic and professional environments within which community members interact. Findings from these questions can be explored in the belonging and inclusion interactive dashboards.

Microaggression, and Discriminatory and Harassing Behaviors

A significant portion of the IDEAL DEI Survey covered survey participants' experiences with microaggression and discriminatory and harassing behaviors. The survey did not ask whether respondents experienced “microaggression,” “discrimination,” or “harassment.” Instead, the survey used specific examples of interactions and behaviors across each of these types of experiences. For example, “Microaggression” is used as a term for commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups (Sue 2010). Racial microaggressions are “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to people of color because they belong to a racial minority group”(Sue et al 2007). The word “microaggression” itself never appeared on the survey. Rather, respondents were asked whether they experienced specific types of behaviors during the last two years by someone associated with Stanford: 

  • Someone invalidated your lived experience due to your racial or ethnic identity, 
  • Someone assumed you were inferior due to your racial or ethnic identity, 
  • Someone acted as if they were afraid or wary of you due to your racial or ethnic identity, 
  • Someone) made you feel othered or exoticized due to your racial or ethnic identity. 

Each of these questions also listed several concrete examples of these behaviors. In the reports and dashboards available on the survey website, the term microaggression is used to categorize these four sets of specific experiences that were presented to survey participants. The survey followed a similar methodology for asking questions about discriminatory behaviors, verbal, written, or online harassing behaviors, as well as physical harassing behaviors. You can find out more about how these questions were asked on the FAQ page and by viewing the publicly available survey instrument.

Open-Ended Questions

There were multiple kinds of open-ended questions on the survey. For example, the survey analysis team processed the text provided by respondents offering further details about their race or ethnicity and other identity questions where open-ended responses were encouraged.  The last several questions on the survey asked participants to provide information about their experiences at Stanford and to let us know more about things that the university should do differently in the future, as well as to describe programs, resources, places, etc. that they felt have been particularly effective in improving the climate for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Stanford.  We are being especially careful with responses from these questions to make sure we protect the privacy of survey participants.  We have engaged a third-party contractor to analyze and summarize the responses.  A summary report will be released to the community during Winter Quarter of the 2021-22 academic year.

Survey Response Rates

The overall survey response rate was 36%, with 14,907 survey respondents who completed the survey out of the 41,052 Stanford affiliates invited to take the survey. For the purposes of analysis, only those survey respondents who completed and submitted their survey were included. At a broad level, survey respondents were representative of the campus community. Response rates among staff  (44%) and faculty (38%) were slightly higher than for students (29% for undergraduate and graduate students and 31% for postdocs). Survey response rates were similar across racial or ethnic identity groups; the response rate was over 30% for community members with known racial or ethnic identity groups (in university records). (The response rate was 25% for respondents with “Unknown” race or ethnicity in university records and 25% for student and postdoc respondents classified as “International.”) The response rate was higher for respondents who identified in university records as female (44%) than respondents who identified as male (29%).  The survey data presented in the reports and dashboards on the survey website are not weighted to account for these differences. 

Note: Currently university records contain only biological sex. Therefore, calculating survey response rates compared to the total university population required using biological sex instead of gender identity. The survey collected data on gender identity, which can be found on the survey project website.


Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. Wiley. pp. xvi. ISBN 978-0-470-49140-9.

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: implications for clinical practice. American psychologist, 62(4), 271.