i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgI’m no longer the most junior member of the department, so I’m not quite as sheltered from service obligations as I was last year. That means that when a faculty position opened up unexpectedly, I got tapped to serve on the search committee. As the woman on the committee, I’m finding myself tasked with making sure that we have a diverse applicant pool. I’m glad that our university is genuine about their support for diversity (at least in applicant pools), and I’m happy to do what I can to make sure this pool is diverse, but … no one has told me how to go about doing so.

So far, the things I’ve come up with are:

  1. Sending the ad to list-servs that target women and minorities…if they exist and if we can identify what those list-servs are.
  2. Distributing the ad to list servs that have members outside of academia (government, industry, etc.) so that people on non-traditional career tracks are aware of the position.
  3. Contacting top departments and faculty and encouraging them to encourage diverse applicants to apply.
  4. Identify mentoring organizations and use their distribution lists to reach potential applicants.
  5. Write the advertisement broadly to attract a large pool of applicants.
  6. Use Rice’s ADVANCE database to identify potential candidates and then contact them and encourage them to apply.

Cornell University’s ADVANCE program also has a flyer with some great tips for recruiting a strong, diverse applicant pool. Unfortunately, some of those tips are things that we should have been doing before starting the search process. 🙁

If you have any other resources or ideas for me, please leave a comment. And if you are in the geosciences (broadly defined) and know of list-servs, forums, etc., please please leave a comment or contact me via email.


  1. #1 Allison
    December 1, 2008

    If you have grad students, ask them if they know who’s on the job market this year, and ask them to spread the word.

    As someone who is on the job market this year in CS, I’ve found the ACM and CRA (both computing-specific organizations) job listings most helpful, followed by Higher Ed Jobs, then the Chronicle of Higher Ed. These lists are for everyone, but my guess is that advertising far and wide would be the most helpful tactic, especially since if a candidate is clued-in enough to join a “minorities-in-my-field” organization, they’re probably aware of the big lists.

  2. #2 PhD Wannabe
    December 1, 2008

    CRA-W, which is the women branch of CRA, has several mailing lists that target women. The one for PhDs job hunters can be found here:

    These are computing-related ladies, though, I’m not sure if that’s of any help for you.

    I would contact a couple of female faculty that are leaders in the field. They can send the word to their potential graduates. They may be already mentoring some women that are on the market.

  3. #3 Zen Faulkes
    December 1, 2008

    It’s horribly difficult to get any particular group of applicants. You’re operating in a vacuum because you can’t survey people who don’t apply, so you never know why people are not interested in a job.

    It’s more important, I think, to ensure that those who do apply are looked at with some awareness that women and minorities are more likely to have non-standard career paths.

  4. #4 Marlene Zuk
    December 1, 2008

    I now have a 50% administrative appointment as the associate vice provost for faculty equity and diversity, and helping with recruitment and retention is what I do. So my first piece of advice is to find out who is my equivalent on your campus and ask him or her! You should not have to re-invent the wheel here. There are tons of websites and publications on this issue. The ADVANCE website for the entire program at NSF is useful, and the Gender Equity Project at Hunter College is also good.

    There are also lists of PhDs or other members of organizations specifically geared toward women or minorities, like SACNAS ( Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, that can help.

    The language in the ad can also be very helpful, particularly if you indicate that you have family-friendly policies and programs and are supportive of the needs of dual career couples. All that is legal and can bring in people who otherwise might not want to relocate to your part of the country. Even if it’s not in your main ad, you can put it in the online info.

    Good luck!


  5. #5 Jane
    December 1, 2008

    Is it possible to find out which institutions/departments have a high percentage of minorities/women in their PhD program? You could then email those departments specifically and have the faculty encourage their students to apply.

  6. #6 Kim
    December 1, 2008

    Gaea (AWG) comes to mind immediately. (Fewer and fewer schools advertise there, I’ve noticed. And for each one that does, I can make a guess about who was responsible for the ad. Isn’t that sad?)

    I’ll e-mail you the name of someone at AGI who might be able to help you think of other organizations.

  7. #7 volcanista
    December 1, 2008

    AAWG occasionally has job listings in its newsletters. Otherwise, most geo women I know (including myself) watch for ads in the standard places, like Chronicle, AGU, and GSA.

    I’m on my first search this year, too, and we’d also like to attract women and minority applicants. We did receive applications from women – I don’t think there is a lack of early-career women looking for jobs. The more difficult step seems to be keeping a reasonable distribution after the first or second cut if their applications, on the whole, are not as strong. That’s not always the case, but it sometimes probably is (due to less encouragement, male-oriented standards, etc. – who knows).

  8. #8 ecogeofemme
    December 1, 2008

    Is there a wiki for job postings in your field?

  9. #9 Nicole
    December 1, 2008

    Hopefully not a silly answer, but I belong to a networking website for knitters (mostly women, unsurprisingly), and we have a large group of science professionals on there along with a job opening thread. Many other have been posting their job openings there; if you send me the announcement, I’ll post it too.

  10. #10 Anonymous
    December 1, 2008

    The Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) has a job announcement listserv. I think you can forward the job ad to any member of the Leadership Board (listed at

  11. #11 frog
    December 1, 2008

    Do you have problems getting an endless stream of applicants? Generally, when a faculty position opens up, anybody with the least relationship sends in their resume.

    The question is probably more in the first-cut, before people are invited for seminars. Actively look and argue for people who are on “non-traditional” tracks — give ’em a leg up, when more conservative members of the committee may prefer to dump their CV’s in the circular file. That’s the issue — they may simply not recognize talent that has taken another route (say, had a few low publishing years while giving birth…)

    Argue for a non-traditional cut — because that’s the pool that matters, not whose CV you get, but who gets a seminar, who gets a chance to sell their research.

  12. #12 Maria
    December 1, 2008

    The Earth Science Women’s Network has a jobs list.

  13. #13 ScienceWoman
    December 1, 2008

    Thanks for all of the wonderful suggestions. I may contact a few of you to get more info. I completely agree with those of you who argued that the real crux piece is who gets invited to interview, and rest assured that I’ll be a strong advocate for applicants with traditional and non-traditional career paths. I won’t really be able to blog about the rest of the process though.

  14. #14 B
    December 1, 2008

    The UIC WISEST program (NSF ADVANCE) has a faculty search toolkit.

  15. #15 Lab Lemming
    December 1, 2008

    If the position is for an appropriate sub-field, consider looking at applicants from industry. This will let you drain the pool that is formed by the leaky pipeline.

  16. #16 Veronica
    December 2, 2008

    B…you beat me to it! Gah!! haha…

    The UIC WISEST toolkit is awesome. I presented it at NCRW over the summer and everyone loved it. Of course I don’t have anything to do with it, I was just presenting it. No credit is due me! But do check it out.

  17. #17 jc
    December 2, 2008

    I think the strongest signal a dept can send about diversity in hiring is their current diversity. If I read an ad that says “we care about diversity, blah blah blah….” and then see 39 males and 2 females, it says lip service and RUN, especially if recent hires are all male.

    I’ve been invited for several interviews, and it makes a HUGE difference if the female member (assuming there’s only 1 is a safe bet in my field) of the search takes the helm with the visit of the women candidates. I didn’t feel uncomfortable asking for bathroom breaks or an extra 1/2 hour after my flight landed to regroup and get changed before dinner, and I felt like the women had a genuine interest in recruiting me.

    You will need to go to bat for getting women on the short list – sticking your neck out may not be something you are comfortable with, so it helps to enlist tenured others.

  18. #18 PhizzleDizzle
    December 2, 2008

    the Rochester Institute of Technology has this great program for searching for future faculty – it’s too late for this year, but something to consider for the future:

  19. #19 Lu
    December 3, 2008

    That’s such a band-aid…

    How about solving more basic issues, such as making academia more family-friendly and life-friendly in general?

    On-campus affordable daycare? Tenure clock stoppage for childbirth? Ditching unhealthy expectation that a graduate student or postdoc must work 10 hours / 6 days a week for a janitor’s pay until her middle 30s?

    Women should not feel that they are being trapped between Scilla and Charybdis of work and family responsibilities.

  20. #20 ScienceWoman
    December 3, 2008

    Lu: I completely agree, and you’ll find those issues discussed plenty of other places on this blog. And, in fact, MU has at least one of those fixes in place. But we also need to make sure that women and minorities are aware of the position and feel encouraged to apply so that they can contribute to the intellectual discourse of the department (and maybe add to the voices for social change…).

  21. #21 neurowoman
    December 3, 2008

    I’m amazed no one has mentioned sending job flyers to the HBCU’s (historically black Colleges and Universities); there aren’t that many of them, you could look at their departments & send an email to the chairs with the job announcement, asking them to distribute to their faculty, students, possibly alumni. Also, some universities have a “Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering” you could contact.

  22. #22 anon
    December 4, 2008

    Does advertising outside the normal disciplinary venues make much of a difference? A colleague involved in an ADVANCE project told me that from her surveys the women in certain disciplines were reading the same job ads as the men (Chronicle, Nature, Science, and discipline-specific journals), and so she is working on other aspects of recruiting.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with sending the ad to other places, but has it been shown that sending to targeted lists is an effective strategy?

  23. #23 Jennifer
    December 4, 2008

    What about AWIS and AAUW – surely they can distribute something through their mailing lists? But I agree also with Chronicle, Nature, Science and discipline-specific publications – those are the first places I turn when looking to see recruitment offerings.

  24. #24 B
    December 5, 2008

    I think it’s less about putting ads where you hope women will see them and instead about directly targeting strong female candidates. That was UIC’s strategy and it worked wonders from what I hear.

    Incidentally, have you tried New Scientist Jobs? If my university hadn’t posted there I never would have applied for my current position.

  25. #25 Anonymous
    February 9, 2009

    Is there anything like ADVANCE for minorities (who are not women)? I’ve heard a lot of big talk about hiring women and minorities, but the only effect I can discern for me as a minority man is that if I ever do get a faculty job (my first search got me zero interviews) it seems like everyone will openly and disparagingly call me an “affirmative action hire”.

  26. #26 BikeMonkey
    February 9, 2009

    well, perhaps not “openly”…:-)

    and srsly, it is not everyone that is down on diversity hiring, just those insecure windbags who are afraid they will start to look shabby in comparison if they don’t tear down the competition.

New comments have been disabled.