If you want more women in your workforce

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If you want more women in your workforce

Universities and research institutions around the world agree that diversity in their laboratories and departments is important not only for fostering innovation and diverse perspectives in research, but also for recruiting women candidates and others from marginalized backgrounds. is.

We are four female researchers who have applied for faculty positions in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, information science, cognitive science, public health, public policy and statistics in the past five years. Collectively, we have sought over 130 faculty jobs and conducted interviews for over 50.

We focus here on our experiences as women, but what we faced in the job market was also influenced by our racial and other identities – so we stress the importance of creating a department that caters to all backgrounds. welcomes people. Our suggestions are a part of a broader vision of diversifying the education world.

Here we learned how departments and institutions can best communicate that they are welcoming to women and other marginalized and underrepresented groups.

Create speaking opportunities for candidates at your university before they hit the job market.

Inviting candidates to chat before applying for a position may encourage them to visit institutions they might not have otherwise considered. Before we graduated, many universities flew in for a day to each of us to give a speech and meet with their faculty members. We were always more excited after visiting the university, and ended up applying for several.

When the department funds these trips, it reduces the socio-economic disparities among potential candidates. In the age of COVID-19, many things are being done remotely, minimizing the cost of inviting a candidate to give one. Think roughly about who you can invite, and to avoid bias, consider creating specific schedules to which candidates can apply.

Talk to your faculty members about etiquette for interviewing candidates

Remind them to keep track of time: Power dynamics may cause a candidate to feel uncomfortable cutting off the interviewer in a long-running meeting. Encourage interviewers to think before speaking. A job interview is a high-stress situation for the candidate, perhaps especially for women: We are alone with a stranger in a small space, there is a power imbalance and comments can easily be misunderstood.

To list a few real-life examples, let's not discuss a high-profile gender-related scandal; Do not inquire about a candidate's marital status or ask personal questions that are illegal in some countries, including the United States; Do not graphically describe sexual assault or make jokes or comments that may be sexist, racist or otherwise discriminatory.

If you see or hear someone speaking or acting inappropriately during an interview or job talk, take action.
Our interviews were mostly positive, but each of us experienced inappropriate events. Others describe worse situations, ranging from unwelcome sexual comments to hearing blasphemy from female faculty members or students.

If you are attending such an interview and notice inappropriate remarks or behavior from a colleague, your response tells the candidate whether or not that behavior is acceptable in your department. Addressing the behavior directly is the most powerful indication that it is not. If you are not comfortable speaking at this time, make it clear to the candidate in a private e-mail or conversation that you do not support such actions.

Be wary of making unsolicited remarks to the candidate about how much you value gender diversity.
If a candidate specifically asks, it's fine to talk about gender issues and summarize your department's efforts around diversity. But diversifying out of the blue is often ineffective—especially if you're a cisgender guy.

Diversity can also backfire. If you are clumsy about it, you can convince the candidate that you know nothing about the issue. Or you can make them wonder if you just see them as 'candidates of diversity'. Don't tell the person you're interviewing that you're very excited about them because they're a woman, or that they were selected for the interview because of their gender identity.

There are exceptions to this rule. One is if your university has taken unusual and concrete steps to help women. During an interview, one of us scheduled a meeting with chemical engineer Malancha Gupta, a faculty member at the University of Southern California (USC)'s computer-science department in Los Angeles, who studied women in USC's science and engineering program. helped to run. He also supported the university's influential efforts to support gender diversity.
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