The Faculty Hiring Process for Women and Men in Academic STEM: Assessing Fairness in Evaluation Ratings and the Interview Experience

Principal Investigators: Mary Blair-Loy, Pamela Cosman, and Stephanie Fraley.

Funder: National Science Foundation

Grant: $512,000

Timeline: 2017-2020

Related publications:

Summary: The underrepresentation of women faculty in STEM limits the potential for scientific creativity and reduces available role models for female undergraduate and graduate students pursuing STEM careers. Research on implicit bias indicates that women candidates for faculty positions are less likely to be selected than men. It is critical to understand the experiences of hiring committee members, and of candidates for faculty positions, in order to advance STEM academic hiring practices. Having a more diverse STEM academic workforce contributes to promoting the progress of science.

The project team will investigate whether and, if so, how bias against women creeps into the process of selecting and interviewing tenure-track faculty candidates at a highly ranked public research university. There are three studies: Study 1 analyzes the deployment and outcomes of faculty using evaluation rubrics in the processes of rating candidates and recommending them for interviews and for hire. The research team will compare rubric ratings and outcomes to its own
assessment of scholarly production, impact and teaching quality, extracted from candidates’ CVs. Also, video-recordings of the candidates’ formal job talks will be analyzed to determine social interactions, such as the number and tone of questions and interruptions, which may vary depending on whether the candidate is male or female. Study 2 surveys advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and newly hired faculty to examine if men and women self-report being treated differently during academic STEM interviews, and to determine if men and women react differently to similar interview events such as interrupting. Study 3 surveys early career scholars to determine their perceptions of discipline-specific understandings and stereotypes about merit and how these perceptions may or may not affect how they navigate their own interview processes.