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Work in Progress: Proactive Dual-career and Relocation Assistance During the Faculty Interview Process

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track: Faculty - Technical Session 3

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Faculty

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Paper Authors


Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado, Boulder

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Robyn Sandekian, PhD, is the Manager of Diverse Faculty Recruiting for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. In this role, Robyn works with hiring committees throughout the College to ensure that faculty searches reach a broad pool of potential applicants and coordinates training offered by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to identify and reduce implicit bias throughout the search process. In addition, she runs a faculty development and leadership program to train and recruit diverse PhD students who wish to pursue academic positions in engineering or applied science after graduation.

Dr. Sandekian earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at CU Boulder in 1992 and 1994, respectively. She went on to earn a Specialist in Education (Ed. S.) degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 2011 and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership in December 2017, both from the University of Northern Colorado.

She is a Founding Leader of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Virtual Community of Practice (VCP) for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Engineering and a facilitator of Safe Zone trainings for engineering faculty and staff who wish to learn more about how to create inclusive environments within engineering for LGBTQ+ individuals.

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Karen G. Braun University of Colorado, Boulder

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Karen G. Braun is a Special Projects Lead for the Provost at University of Colorado Boulder. She has worked in the Office of Admissions, in the Office of Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement, and the BOLD Center in the College of Engineering & Applied Science at the university. She previously worked as an educational and public outreach specialist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Sarah Miller University of Colorado, Boulder

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Sarah Miller provides vision and leadership for the recruitment, retention, and success of outstanding and diverse students, faculty, and staff to the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. As Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence, she leads the Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center, overseeing efforts to attract and prepare students for the rigors of engineering study and careers, and to improve student performance and graduation rates. Appointed in January 2014, Miller comes to CU-Boulder from the National Science Foundation, where she worked in STEM education as a American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow.

Sarah believes that every child deserves an excellent education. She has worked in inner-city public schools, both as a teacher and as an administrator, and in the admissions office of Amherst College, where she earned a B.A. in Chemistry. She holds a PhD from Yale University in chemical and environmental engineering, where her doctoral research produced a bio-based water purification system for removing arsenic from developing world water supplies.

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Keywords: Faculty, Engineering, Computer Science

The proportion of tenure-track positions in higher education continues to decrease [1], and of the 2016 doctoral recipients reported in National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates [2], only 14% of those who had earned doctorates in engineering had definite commitments for an academic position after graduation. Therefore, tenure-track positions are highly sought after and applicants want to do their best to demonstrate that they would be the best candidate for the coveted position. In addition, the median age for individuals to earn a doctorate is now 32 for women and 31 for men [2] – ages when many people have established domestic relationships or partners. At the same time, various federal employment non-discrimination laws now limit questions that can be asked about a candidate’s family during the interview process. Indeed, many candidates fear doing or saying anything during the search process that can harm one’s chances of selection. This dichotomy of needs and requirements has led to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture when it comes to candidates’ ability to discuss their partner who might also be seeking a job. This void of shared knowledge or late awareness of such a need can leave university and college administrators who make faculty job offers scrambling to determine what opportunities might be available for the trailing partner. The authors’ institution is working to ease this process for potential candidates and the faculty search chairs by explicitly identifying our college’s support of dual-career couples in advertisements, inviting every on-campus interviewee’s partner to join them during their campus visit, and designing a customized experience for the partner while the candidate is completing interviews. Our goal is to work with partners of academics to ease their process of learning about the employment, housing, school, and social environment to which they would be entering should their partner be offered and accept a tenure-track position, without re-inviting bias into the hiring process that existed before the federal employment non-discrimination policies went into effect. This project is a work in progress through which we will track feedback to the novel program and evaluate the effectiveness of the faculty hiring process.

References [1] American Association of University Professors (n.d.) Background Facts on Contingent Faculty Positions. Available at [2] National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). (2016). Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2016. Available at

Sandekian, R., & Braun, K. G., & Miller, S. (2019, April), Work in Progress: Proactive Dual-career and Relocation Assistance During the Faculty Interview Process Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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