Wednesday, 25 April 2012

It's The Thought That Counts

This is a title I have used before (in 2007!) for a totally unrelated post, but I am going to make use of it again today for another post about job ads.

Years ago, back when some science departments realized they needed to show that they were not obviously discriminating against female applicants even if very few (or none) were interviewed or hired, the preferred mode of proving a theoretical interest in hiring women was to place a job ad in the newsletter of an organization for women in the relevant field.

Of course the ad was also placed in the major venues for such ads as well, but advertising in the women's newsletter was given as evidence that "we tried" by many departments. According to my experience and that of colleagues at other universities, this evidence was always accepted by the various university offices responsible for seeing that hiring procedures followed the university's equal opportunity policies, even if no women were interviewed.

It didn't matter that there was no potential applicant on the planet who would only see the ad in the newsletter and not also in the major job-ad venues of our field.

I see it as a sign of progress that many (most?) departments don't do this anymore. They don't do it anymore because they don't have to make this meaningless gesture to show that they are theoretically willing to consider applications from women because many actually do consider applications from women, and invite them to interview, and offer them jobs. 

Does anyone disagree with that and think that it is a good thing for a department to place such an ad in a newsletter for women or other underrepresented group? (whether or not it is backed up by a record of non-discrimination?)

Do any departments still place ads for tenure-track faculty positions in newsletters of women-in-science organizations? I have not done a systematic survey.

And does anyone know of a human resources/equal opportunity office that has rejected this as the sole evidence of a non-discriminatory hiring process?

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