Recruiting faculty

September 26, 2015

Professors L. Vosshall, C. Bargmann and N. Tronson were discussing the representation of women in the pools of applicants for faculty jobs the other day.

I surmised from the Twittscussion that they find that too few women are applying in their respective searches. These three are very well known neuroscientists so it isn’t like they don’t have the usual connections, either.

So what would you suggest?

How can a faculty member on a search committee work to get more underrepresented* individuals into the mix for a new hire?

*we can broaden this beyond just sex disparity

58 Responses to “Recruiting faculty”

  1. rinjikou Says:

    I don’t get why this is a problem. What if more women just realize that TT is a shitty shitty job and they just don’t want to do it? What’s the hiring rate compared to the applicant rate?


  2. Fatima Abbas Says:

    I think the problem starts before the faculty position search begins. Without a doubt better mentoring schemes would alleviate part of the problem.
    Most minorities experience imposter syndrome probably because of lack of relatable peers, add to that a combination of low confidence in own ability and increasingly negative views of science as a career and you’ve got people who already feel out of place thinking they’re up against the career equivalent of climbing Everest without a guide.

    From my own perspective, whilst detailed job requirements are useful to get fewer/better applicants for the people hiring, it can put less confident (perhaps minority) scientists off even applying because of a few missing skills/requirement.


  3. NotAMillennial Says:

    From the Rockefeller website, this appears to be the full list of female faculty:

    Bargman — senior hire already HHMI
    Chen — senior hire already HHMI
    de Lange — tenure track hire from Varmus lab (post-Nobel)
    Fuchs — senior hire already HHMI
    Hatten — senior hire
    Kreek — Rockefeller postdoc
    Papavasiliou — Rockefeller PhD
    Ruta — Rockefeller PhD
    Smogorzewska — Rockefeller PhD
    Vosshall — Rockefeller PhD

    Notice any trends? Is it any wonder that women from outside these clubs might think it’s not worth applying? I have no doubt that Bargman and Vosshall are sincere, but Rockefeller does not seem to have a institutional interest in casting a wide net.


  4. drugmonkey Says:

    Interesting review. Maybe they are trying to break this up?


  5. chall Says:

    NotAMillenial : interesting. 5/10 are Roeckerfeller PhD or postdocs. It would be good to see corresponding numbers for the male faculty too though. My guess would be that the pedigree might be a little more diverse but still …. probably a bias to Rockerfeller since I think it’s a lot of that going around.

    However, as a scientist – “I think” means nothing. cold hard facts do though.


  6. MoBio Says:

    This will undoubtedly change with time. A while back I was at a speciality meeting where awards were given to outstanding trainees.

    All but one of the 11 were women!


  7. drugmonkey Says:

    That’s what they said in 1975 Mobio


  8. a thought Says:

    Is this a real discussion? The easier thing everyone can do is make their ads more broad and wide reaching. The more specific an ad is makes it less likely for minorities to apply. Make your ads general and put out the word that it is an open search.

    Apologies for the earnest answer if this post is some troll thing I don’t get.


  9. pentahedron Says:

    There are already NIH/NINDS sponsored programs that identify outstanding women and minority postdocs in neuroscience, and support their professional development ie BRAINS program:

    More searches should take advantage and reach out to the organizers of these programs. They can facilitate the ads reaching directly to the target pool. And getting ad/job search info from a known source that the postdoc might trust a little more increases the chances of application as opposed to finding some random ad in the back of Science.


  10. Newbie PI Says:

    Rockefeller U’s job “ad” could not be any more general. They will hire anyone whose research program gets them really excited, and the job post says pretty much exactly that. Their new faculty are incredibly diverse from chemists to microbiologists to ecologists. So specificity in the job posting is not the problem. I somewhat agree with the first commenter that it might just be different mindsets among the sexes. Women might tend to focus on the negatives of working at a place like Rockefeller (extreme pressures and expectations) whereas men would focus on how awesome it would be to have the benefit of the Rockefeller name on your grant applications.


  11. Lurkette Says:

    Women (and men) should perhaps focus on the fact that Rockefeller has a fabulous on site day care and it would totally be possible to negotiate that your various munchkins have free ride. They do an awesome job of supporting faculty housing (in contrast to some other nearby institutions), and its a fantastic intellectual environment.

    Second Newbie PI that their ad is already extremely general. Also, very widely circulated. They are doing all they should be doing to reach people. From what I hear, both males and females often self-select out of applying there b/c they know odds are awful (~>700 apps for this broad a posting).


  12. sel Says:

    I honestly don’t understand the head-scratching here. Every single one of you who has been a grad student or a postdoc has SEEN smart women opt out of the TT job market and you KNOW exactly why they do it.

    In case you were oblivious, here’s why: its because most people pair up in grad school or as postdocs. Academics tend to marry academics. So by job-hunting time, most academic women are dealing with a 2-body (and a potential or existing 3rd and 4th body) problem. Yes, most academic men are dealing with the same problem, but because of the way most of us were raised, we subconsciously absorbed certain antiquated societal lessons on gender roles: Boys will grow up and have a career! Girls will grow up and get married and have kids and maybe have a job!

    That subconscious programming makes it far more likely that women will choose to be the trailing spouse. Science magazine did a survey about 5 years ago of NIH postdocs. Female postdocs indicated that the prospect of having a child “would greatly impact” their decisions about getting a job. Male postdocs, given the same question, indicated that the prospect of having a child would have little impact on their job hunting. (The unspoken second part of that sentence was “because the wife will handle that stuff.”)

    I’ve seen women far smarter than myself make this decision, despite people pointing out things like day care and flexible schedule and extended tenure clock. It is frustrating. But until child-rearing is truly a 50:50 proposition, there will always be a lower proportion of female TT applicants.


  13. drugmonkey Says:

    So search committee members should just give up? I say nay to that. Each and every hire that increases the diversity moves the ball a little bit.


  14. AcademicLurker Says:

    From what I hear, both males and females often self-select out of applying there b/c they know odds are awful (~>700 apps for this broad a posting).

    “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.”


  15. Juan Lopez Says:

    “That subconscious programming ”
    By the time I am married, with kids and looking for a faculty position it’s lame to blame my parents for my choices. It is a deep structural problem that requires more evolved thinking that blaming a subconscious program.


  16. DJMH Says:

    But the child issue is coupled with the very real personal dynamic that qualified women are less likely to think they’re “ready” for something than even underqualified men. I do this too; had it not been for some senior folks telling me outright to apply for a K99, I would have thought I wasn’t competitive. (Then I scored a 12, so the senior people were right.)


  17. Rob Says:

    I’m sure my tech job at Rockefeller goes a long way towards a TT position!


  18. kalevala Says:

    If we assume, as has been suggested, that men aren’t self-selecting here, can we also assume that a substantial fraction of the men candidates are not really competitive? Perhaps of the elite candidates, the ratio is more equal?


  19. Eli Rabett Says:

    The Rock is at the top of the pile. Applicants with any chance at that level are told to apply by their mentors who are either there or well connected to people who are there. Anyone who comes without such a recommendation gets tossed into the dogpile.


  20. Lurkette Says:

    I call, Eli Rabett. Several of my friends/colleagues and I have all interviewed at the Rock, with no direct or otherwise strong connections, over the past 3 years. They are paying attention outside the immediate inbred circle.

    DJMH’s point re gender differences is important. You see this over and over again, where two equally qualified candidates will behave differently in gender-based ways, eliciting different outcomes. No easy fix…


  21. drugmonkey Says:

    Tronson Lab comment:

    similar to what DJMH is saying gives clear mentoring advice to nudge this ball forward. If you legitimately think so-and-so who is not in your lab* needs to be applying to fellowship or job opportunities, tell them.

    *in your lab too, but you are already doing that.


  22. AcademicLurker Says:

    It always surprises me to learn how restrictive people can be about what positions they will apply for. In the past I’ve been listening to someone complain about the lousy job market and when I ask how many applications they sent out they’d say “Five”. It turns out they were only applying to highly targeted ads that sounded like they were written just for them.

    IMO, when an ad is that specific, the department likely already has a favored candidate in mind.


  23. eeke Says:

    If the Rockefeller applicant pool is 25% female, I’d be curious to know why they can’t find a suitable candidate among what they already have, assuming that the overall pool is large. If they are looking for someone who came out of a BSD lab, it’s known that those labs are mostly male:

    I think Eli Rabbett and NotaMillienial have a good point, and it’s backed up by the twitter plea: applicants are hand-picked and reviewed on recommendation rather than a cold application. There is a reason why HHMI switched to self-nomination – not enough people were nominating female candidates.


  24. Newbie PI Says:

    I think AcademicLurker is giving bad info (though admittedly it was framed as an opinion). A highly specific job ad does not mean that a favorite candidate is already chosen. My university is on a massive hiring spree and the departments are all competing for slots based on proposals where we describe how great it would be to have a colleague researching XYZ. The job ad then has to say that preference will be given to those with expertise in XYZ. In reality we’re looking for the best candidate we can get for our department regardless of their expertise, and XYZ is not a criteria at all. In other words, our job ad is totally contrived based on university politics. My point is that you never really know, so you might as well apply even if you don’t seem like a perfect fit for the ad.


  25. AcademicLurker Says:

    @Newbie PI: I wasn’t suggesting people not respond to highly specific ads. My job search advice is that you should apply for every position that could reasonably accommodate your expertise and research focus.


  26. shrew Says:

    Eeke is totes right. BSD lab membership and “mentoring” is not evenly distributed between genders. BSD lab membership and “mentoring” is what elite institutions are looking for. This is all much more than an academic (ha) question for me right now, as I weigh the effort of submitting applications, and asking my references to submit letters, to some fancy joints that won’t like my pedigree. Why would they consider someone who is not immediately going to add to their prestige? They are in the business of selling prestige.

    OTOH, some friends tell me that submitting (good) applications to outrageous places is sometimes worth it, just gets your name out there in the field. But these friends are men. I don’t even know if a “what the hell” application from a woman is perceived in the same way as a man. I do know that my more successful applications last year had much more detailed cover letters than the unsuccessful ones, which had cover letters modeled after the short and sweet cover letters of male friends of mine who had secured assistant professor positions. Yeah, yeah, who can say what it was, it’s about fit, n is low – but we are evolved to learn quickly from feedback, and I learned that I have to work to justify my worthiness for a faculty position to a degree that my male colleagues do not.


  27. jmz4 Says:

    Yeah, this isn’t a Rockefeller problem, it is a workforce problem. I’ve seen female postdocs exit academia at an approximately 2:1 ratio relative the their male counterparts.
    Quotas may sound unappealing, but it’s likely the simplest way to redress the self-perpetuating cultural issues in academia that disproportionately favor men (eg imposter syndrome, mysoginy, childcare access).


  28. drugmonkey Says:

    I am pro-quota. Emphatically so.


  29. lurkette Says:

    On quotas…. for interviews or for job offers? How rigid a time-frame?

    Last year our dep-t had all male apps among top 10 scores (out of >300). We closely discussed top 3 ranking females (within top 25-30) and chose to interview one of them. From a good/great lab, couple baby glam pubs, fancy fellowship, great recs, though people were not thrilled with the well-written but not exciting proposal. She gave a weak talk. Easily last ranking candidate. Sigh. We will absolutely do the same rank bump if needed again on next searches, but bummer…


  30. Aravis Says:

    I just want to give my 2 cents as a former Rockefeller postdoc, a wife of another biological scientist, and a mom who had her first kid while at Rockefeller…

    I think they are trying their best to hire all kinds of people and pushing the envelope compared to the “good ole days.” I started there at the same time as Paul Nurse, and I really got the sense that he was trying to make the place not just somewhere for Nobel laureates to retire/die, but on the cutting edge of bioscience. There were some “out of the box” type hires, which honestly all assistant professors were for RU — classically you were recruited there because of your achievements. I applaud them for the efforts in very general searches, but the fact of the matter is if women don’t apply, you can’t hire more women. What Vosshall et al. are saying is that they want some new infusions into the gene pool — women/minorities from everywhere should apply! I think Rockefeller is still fighting the old image that “if you have to ask, you aren’t good enough to be here.” Pedigree is not as important these days, but as always who you know is going to help.

    Yes, their daycare is fantastic, and faculty get priority over the throngs of postdoc parents who are clamoring to get their children in there. The housing situation is great for faculty as well.

    I think some of you give short shrift to the complications of the 2- and 2+- body problems of academics. Out of practicality, unless you have family support it is going to be difficult to have 2 TT individuals and children in a household. I can’t imagine if both I and DH were to be on TT — I am a full-time instructor (not TT but with annual renewals and promotion in the future) and I struggle with demands of work and home as it is. Our household is pretty evenly divided in work, but I still get the kids every day since I’m the one who can leave by 5 pm. Leaving that early is incompatible with tenure and promotion these days and I acknowledge that if he is going to succeed, I’m going to have to pull up the slack in some areas. He still gets his share of the poopy diapers. I don’t want the stress of TT, with teaching, research, grants, service obligations. I am happy teaching my 18 contact hours and trying to do the best I damn well can to serve those students.

    My point is, families make decisions that are not 100% because of societal programming. No matter what your situation, someone is going to have to be responsible for the home life, whether it is split evenly or not. Just because women tend do this more often is not necessarily reflective of them seeing themselves as trailing by default. DH got the job, and we all had to move. If the situation were reversed, and I had a career-promoting opportunity that required us to move, he would be trailing. RU is a high-pressure environment, and I think the patterns we are seeing are that working moms more often than not don’t want all that stress. I am on the same page.


  31. Morgan Price Says:

    Maybe Rockefeller should ask why themselves why women don’t want work there as PIs? I don’t know anything about the place myself but some comments imply that it has a very competitive culture. And is there an expectation that PIs will work >>40 hrs/week? Or, maybe they need to promote their pluses (subsidized child care & housing)?


  32. drugmonkey Says:

    Lurkette- Jean-Luc Picard style….. “Make it so!”

    Overt, visual representation is the key to the pipeline issue. All the nice talk in the world fails if nobody who looks/sounds/acts like you is succeeding.

    Since our ability to predict who will be the most awesome, long term, amongst the top 2% or 1% that make the short list, I say we should prioritize diversity even if the talk is a little weak. Or if the plan is unexciting (also a sex-laden issue, btw).


  33. pinus Says:

    FWIW, I have been on quite a few committees, and I work my ass off to get more diversity on campus for interviews. It has been met with some success, but I want more. still working on it.


  34. shrew Says:

    Maybe lurkette is at the same place I used to be. Dept had 5 talks on the same day. Some asshole later was complaining to me about how “the girl’s talk” was just not up to snuff. There was a lot of shrill cursing out of me as a result, but the gist of my response was that there should have been more than one woman invited to fucking speak in the first fucking place, so that chodes like him couldn’t disparage “the girl.”

    Later, they hired some dude that wasn’t even presenting that day. He had his own separate interview. So it goes.


  35. Rheophile Says:

    I think Vosshall is doing exactly the right thing, trying to get a broader group of people into the Rockefeller applicant pool. It certainly also makes sense to do sanity checks as lurkette describes – if your top ten is all-male, in a, say, 25% female applicant pool, there is likely to be some weirdness about your evaluation scheme.

    I do worry that the benefits of “bumping up” the top woman in the pool into the interviews end up accruing to the women who have been least harmed. I know a couple of women who are brilliant scientists and I think would be great at Rockefeller – but because of some very bad/sexist mentoring over the years, they are not likely to be in the top 25 – their CVs will look a little more unconventional. I suspect this is never going to change, as long as there are enough great scientists competing that someone with “good/great lab, couple baby glam pubs, fancy fellowship, great recs” is outside the top ten.


  36. BioSciProf Says:

    I write from the perspective of 20 years as faculty at different sorts of places, with many searches under my belt.

    1) Women do not apply at 50:50, but then, women are not 50:50 in the pool of academically inclined postdocs. My experience is about 30% of any search is female.

    2) Women do self-select out of academe and certain jobs for a variety of reasons. Family is just one (a big one, but not the only one). .

    3) In my experience, men seem more driven by the status of a place than women. At intense places like Rockefeller and Harvard, few people succeed in coming up through the ranks to tenure, and I think women are more likely to decide that ‘s not a culture that they want to be a part of.

    4) In my department (R1 but not Harvard-level) our last search shortlisted mostly women, not because they were women but because they were the best in the pool. They were all fantastic. However, like most places we suck at ethnic diversity in the faculty. That pool is tiny. You can’t cure the faculty till you cure the pipeline. We all struggle with that! I teach diverse undergrads, but I find that my most qualified under-represented students all want to go to medical school.

    I am a woman, by the way.


  37. Rheophile Says:

    *crucial point I didn’t make clear: even though the benefits of affirmative action of this sort may miss some women who have been badly harmed by sexism, it’s still highly valuable in getting women into positions of mentorship, which is also great.


  38. jmz4 Says:

    “Overt, visual representation is the key to the pipeline issue. All the nice talk in the world fails if nobody who looks/sounds/acts like you is succeeding. ”
    -Well, that, and it will help break up the existing positive feedback loops in science culture so that the metrics and milestones are not so precipitously slanted towards things SWMs are predisposed to achieve (CNS, letters of rec from BSDs, etc), which will open the door for the metrics to be things that actually generate career success (e.g. degree of collaborativeness, mentorship, etc). This will hopefully benefit science as a whole. In general I think the culture of science could use a good airing out, and shaking up the workforce structure is a good way to do that, since if nothing else it causes us to re-evaluate how we pick who leads the labs.

    But you’re going to encounter a lot of resistance from people entrenched in idolization of a system that doesn’t really exist except in the minds of 50’s something profs and starry-eyed grad students.


  39. drugmonkey Says:

    idolization of a system that doesn’t really exist except in the minds of 50’s something profs and starry-eyed grad students.

    I think one is making a dangerous mistake if one does not understand that the traditional majority culture individuals who look, think and act just like the rapidly-emeritizing cohort are replacing them. With a profound selection preference and training experience to ensure the younger scientists act just like the prior generations do. The rapidly vertically ascending wunderkind of today is going to be the problem of tomorrow. Unless they are buffered with much greater surrounding diversity than their mentors enjoyed.


  40. kalevala Says:

    I’m pro quota too. Why increase the pool of women applicants just to reject more of them? Just select a woman for the job.


  41. Newbie PI Says:

    I’m with kalevala. Just hire someone from the pool of candidates you got. At least you know they really want to be there without convincing. Why do they assume that there must be masses of women out there who are qualified and who also want to move to NYC and work at an institution with the highest expectations in the world. It takes a special type to want to move to NYC in their mid-late 30’s, and quality of life on a starting faculty salary will be far less than one could have elsewhere. Scientific fame and prestige can be built anywhere. Just FYI, our midwestern faculty search candidates this year were not nearly as skewed.


  42. Female postdoc Says:

    As an early stage female postdoc, I am a bit worried about the need to increase the % of female applicants without a hiring quota. I am worried that I’ll get interviews at places where I’d never really get hired, because of lowering the bar out of good intentions — but then forgetting those good intentions when having to pick the 1 new faculty (without getting into how unconcious bias sneaks in to all those fuzzy factors of ‘fit’…). I have already been invited to apply for positions at places that I am pretty sure would not give me a job this early in my career…


  43. Susan Says:

    “Exceptional” has the sum of many varieties of gendered expectations behind it (ie things that reward men and penalize women), which are well documented in the literature. If they’re looking for people who have “succeeded” and are “exceptional” by today’s definition of success, they’ve already made big mistakes. They should look well outside of today’s brand of exceptional if they really want to think outside the box.


  44. Established PI Says:

    @Female postdoc – Why are you sure that a place that invited you to apply isn’t serious? If they are places where you would like to work, go for it.


  45. jmz4 Says:

    @Female postdoc and Est. PI
    I have a little anecdata on this. I’m at an ILAF and I’ve seen my women colleagues get invited for more interviews than men, much earlier and with less substance to their CV, but conversely get way fewer final offers. Not sure why that might be, but seen it with an n of 3 or 4, for what it’s worth.


  46. Grumble Says:

    @jmz4: Makes sense. Hiring committees probably really do want to increase the number of women in tenure-track positions. Or at least they say they do, and to show that they are sex-blind, they might be inclined to make sure they interview roughly equal numbers of men and women. So, particularly if there are fewer women applicants than men (and there seem to be, according to Bargmann et al) there may be more willingness to give women a chance they wouldn’t give to men with an equivalent record.


  47. Anonymous Says:

    @jmz4 & Grumble: yes, so they will be bring the women in, but even if they interview really well, in the end they won’t be hired because, you know, their records are not that strong.


  48. SFGDMB Says:

    In places where the male:female ratio in the pool of applicants is 80:20 (or around), the search committees generally use an “excellent” and “statistical” approach of inviting 4 men and 1 woman for interviews.

    You should ask yourself 2 questions:

    (1) What is the probability that X (X>5) years in a row, each faculty
    search will ALWAYS result in 1 woman and 4 men being invited for interviews, assuming this 80:20 male:female ratio in the applicant pool?

    (2) What would the most probable number of women invited during these X years be, assuming a gender-blind selection based on merit and a 80:20 male:female ratio in the pool of applicants?

    There is a huge difference in paying attention to whether female candidates are selected for interviews at all, and then setting such limits. I feel sorry for the women who come in second on these lists of female applicants. So, quotas are already in place in many departments…

    Re: “If your top ten is all-male, in a, say, 25% female applicant pool, there is likely to be some weirdness about your evaluation scheme.”
    – I think this is put very mildly.


  49. radscientist Says:

    Um, I am looking at tenure track jobs and had seen the rockefeller general advertisement (and honestly, assumed it probably wasn’t worth applying because I am not a superstar). But then after seeing this tweet I went back to look again and noticed….the department I am interested has ONE woman (who, yes, got her Ph.D. at Rockefeller), out of 18 heads of lab. That to me is a big red flag, it does not seem like ratios like that can be accidental, so I have to ask myself- even in the unlikely event of getting an interview or offer, would I want to be part of a department/university that seems to have a good probability of being hostile to women? I will also say, in answer to the question of how to get more women to apply if that is a goal, I am definitely more likely to apply when there is an explicit statement in the job ad to the effect that women and minorities are actively desired and encouraged to apply.


  50. Grumble Says:

    @Anonymous: “yes, so they will be bring the women in, but even if they interview really well, in the end they won’t be hired because, you know, their records are not that strong.”

    Not necessarily. It could also be that someone with a less-strong record on paper also tends to perform less well at the interview stage.

    The bottom line, though, is that this thing called “merit” is extremely hard to pin down. From a pool of, say, 10 interviewees, a few of them will be easy to reject and the rest will all have great science and bright futures. So how does a committee decide? A lot of it has to do with whether the committee feels the candidate fills a niche that needs filling in the department or school; how well they predict the candidate will interact with existing department members; and whom she will interact with. I’d like to think that sex doesn’t also play a role in the decision (except, maybe, when two candidates are considered equal and the offer goes to a woman because the ratio among existing faculty is skewed towards men). But I’m probably wrong in many cases.


  51. Grumble Says:

    “I am definitely more likely to apply when there is an explicit statement in the job ad to the effect that women and minorities are actively desired and encouraged to apply.”

    You are letting colleges’ policies on what boiler plate they force to be put in job ads decide where you apply. Colleges might have strong women/minorities policies and yet not want to pay to say it over and over again whenever they post a job. Or there might be colleges where the policies are murky, yet the department advertising the position is actually not completely composed of sexist dudes who would laugh your application out of town.

    Look. The only way to get more women faculty members is to get more women faculty members (who will then help push for even more women faculty members). Same for minorities. If you don’t even apply, you are not doing your part to help end these forms of discrimination.


  52. radscientist Says:

    @grumble-“Colleges might have strong women/minorities policies and yet not want to pay to say it over and over again whenever they post a job.”- I would argue that means it’s not a strong priority for them. No, I see what you’re saying, and I understand those words can be boilerplate, but to me they provide a strong but very simple balance against my tendency to self-select out of something I don’t feel “perfect” for (which, as we know, is one of the things that contributes to lack of female/minority candidates). Only my personal opinion, obviously, but during this process I have been SURPRISED by how much of a difference those words make in my opinion and behavior.


  53. lurkette Says:

    “Re: “If your top ten is all-male, in a, say, 25% female applicant pool, there is likely to be some weirdness about your evaluation scheme.”
    – I think this is put very mildly.”

    In a pool of 100 sure thing, but many jobs get >300 applicants, which makes top 10 a tiny overall percentage.

    Our top 10 male list last year emerged our of a gender balanced committee with several actively seeking female hire members. Incidentally, this is in a department where the last several hires were female. We looked carefully at the top quarter of all candidates, down to discussions of supplementary figures in published papers. Granted, this gender distribution was described as unusual, but nevertheless made me sad and concerned.


  54. Grumble Says:

    @rad: “I have been SURPRISED by how much of a difference those words make in my opinion and behavior.”

    I’d be curious to know if there is really a difference between institutions with and without the boilerplate in their ads.

    I’m also curious about your assertion that self-selection away from potential employers seen as non-perfect is more common in minorities and women than white men. Is that because white men tend to have more of a sense of brash self-confidence (or at least a perception that applying and getting rejected won’t hurt), whereas minorities/women tend to anticipate that the failure will hurt more?

    I wonder if this is real and what an be done about it. When a phenomenal woman post-doc in my lab was in the job market, I found myself nagging her to apply for positions she thought were long shots. *I* would have applied for them, and said something like “if they don’t want me, fuck them, their loss, not mine.” And I find myself fairly frequently giving my wife (who is not in academia) career pep talks (when she’s job hunting) along the lines of “how do you know they don’t want someone like you unless you apply for the position?”

    What is UP with all this?


  55. Female postdoc Says:

    @Grumble “A lot of it has to do with whether the committee feels the candidate fills a niche that needs filling in the department or school; how well they predict the candidate will interact with existing department members; and whom she will interact with. I’d like to think that sex doesn’t also play a role in the decision (except, maybe, when two candidates are considered equal and the offer goes to a woman because the ratio among existing faculty is skewed towards men).”

    These soft criteria are ways for unconscious bias to creep in and make you pick a male over an equally good female candidate. In a male-dominated science department, people who seem like you, who share your interests or working style, or who share some qualities are your heroes are going to have a skew towards male.


  56. jmz4 Says:

    “What is UP with all this?”
    -I think that’s what’s known as impostor syndrome. I’ve heard it is frequently more prevalent in underrepresented groups.


  57. ninhydrin Says:

    I am a minority assoc prof. I for one have been the AA interview on several occasions and during my job search it was evident. I would go places and no one would be at the talks and turns out it was a university holiday or big football game or who knows. It happened/happened all the time. It even happens when I am on hiring committees. The committee knows they need to bring in a black or a woman. So they invite one and low and behold they like someone else better. Most of these departments aren’t serious about this but their are smart enough to play the game.

    No easy fix, seen it first hand.


  58. lurker Says:

    Overheard: the most important diversity action in the recruiting process is to ensure enough URMs send in applications. That alone is the most required step to make the process look diverse enough. Any other step afterwards………


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