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Searching For Excellence And Diversity: Does Training Faculty Search Committees Improve Hiring Of Women?

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Perspectives for Women Faculty

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1257.1 - 12.1257.19



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Sheridan University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Eve Fine University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Jessica Winchell University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Christine Pribbenow University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Molly Carnes University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Jo Handelsman University of Wisconsin-Madison

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Searching for Excellence & Diversity: Does Training Faculty Search Committees Improve Hiring of Women? ABSTRACT

With funding from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program, the University of Wisconsin-Madison designed and implemented training for chairs of faculty hiring committees. Training began in 2004 and continues to the present. The workshops are implemented using a variety of formats, but the common elements that make them successful include: • Peer Teaching: Incorporating faculty from the unit to deliver short presentations and serve as discussion facilitators; • Active Learning: Most time is spent in discussion and a sharing of practices from different departments; presentation is kept to a minimum; • Unconscious Biases & Assumptions: Participants are introduced to the social psychological literature on unconscious biases and assumptions, and learn how these tendencies might impact the hiring process; • Accountability: Participants report on their success at recruiting diverse applicants to their pools.

In 2004 and 2005, over half (61%) of departments in biological and physical sciences sent at least one faculty member to this training (usually the chair of the search committee). Using data on faculty offers and faculty new hires, we have found that the departments who sent at least one person for training (“participating departments”) did increase the percentage of offers that went to women as well as the number of new assistant professors who are women. In this same time period, non-participating departments actually saw the percentage of offers made to women and their percentage of women new assistant professors decline. The linkage between participation in the hiring workshops and offers made to faculty of color is less clear, although it does appear to be positive, especially in 2004. Additionally, using data from our faculty climate surveys, we found that new hires in participating departments reported increased satisfaction with the hiring process overall, compared to new hires in non-participating departments which saw a decline in their new hires’ satisfaction from 2003 to 2006.

Although a number of factors likely combined to produce these positive results (most significantly a selection effect, whereby those faculty most motivated and committed to faculty diversity in the hiring process were likely those who chose to attend the workshops), our data show that given a willing audience, our training appears to be correlated with increased hiring of women faculty, as well as other desirable changes to our hiring processes at UW-Madison.


After years of attempting to increase the gender diversity of our academic science and engineering leadership through awards to individual women (e.g., Research Opportunities for Women, Visiting Professorships for Women, Career Advancement Awards, Faculty

Sheridan, J., & Fine, E., & Winchell, J., & Pribbenow, C., & Carnes, M., & Handelsman, J. (2007, June), Searching For Excellence And Diversity: Does Training Faculty Search Committees Improve Hiring Of Women? Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2038

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