Tips and Best Practices from the Michigan Tech Diversity Literacy Online Workshop

Thank you to Michigan Tech’s Patricia Sotirin and Sonia Goltz for permssion to post this list from the 2014 Diversity Literacy Online Workshop

Diversity Literacy Workshop:  Best Practices

Unintentional Bias

  1. Recognize the influence of stress and time pressures on decision‐making processes. If possible, schedule selection and advancement processes with an eye to minimizing semester and professional demands on committee members and provide a generous window of time for committees to deliberate.
  2. Establish decision criteria related to position requirements and professional qualifications before reviewing candidate applications.
  3. Encourage selection and advancement committees to seek additional information in order to clarify ambiguous priorities, criteria, and information. At the same time, be careful to apply the same criteria and requirements for all candidates.
  4. Identify and focus on specific position criteria rather than discussing a broader and more general sense of “fit” with the department.

Selection Bias

  1. Avoid evaluations based on inferences that may mask subtle biases. In particular, do not make offer decisions based on what the committee assumes or suspects about the candidate’s motives, preferences, or likely actions.
  2. Clarify whether gendered assumptions about roles or positions are evident and strive to compare candidates on the basis of actual accomplishments and qualifications. This is particularly important in assessing leadership and professional potential.
  3. Use a structured interview schedule for each candidate interview. If additional questions are asked of a particular candidate, these should be noted so that the committee can decide how or whether the additional information is useful and comparable to information available for other candidates.
  4. Word position announcements using gender neutral language and identify both mainstream and population‐specific venues for placing the announcement in order to ensure a pool with at least 25% minority and female candidates.
  5. Question vague, evaluative comments made by committee members to find out what specific issues or concerns underlie such comments. Vague feelings and suspicions, anecdotal information, and interpretations based on perceptions should be explored so that these comments can either be substantiated or reconsidered.

Advancement Bias

  1. Set up specific standards for advancement progress and assess all faculty periodically for advancement potential based on non‐subjective criteria (number of courses taught, cumulative teaching scores, number of publications, grant levels, etc.).
  2. Be vigilant about identifying and minimizing unconscious bias in advancement decision‐making processes. Provide P&T committees with time and information and encourage members to avoid distractions and focus on predetermined advancement‐relevant criteria.
  3. Assess the subtle accumulation of disadvantages across all faculty periodically. Pay attention to systematic differences among groups of faculty such as salary, space, research resources, teaching assignments, awards, and committee assignments.

Scholarly Articles & Books Courtesy the ADVANCE Initiative

Michigan Tech’s ADVANCE Initiative maintains a list of scholarly articles and books related  to gender discrimination and other forms of bias.  You can access their materials at the ADVANCE website.  An example of the materials available are:

From the NY Times: Women at work subject to more, and harsher, criticism

From the New York Times, September 27, 2014:

A NEW study by the linguist and tech entrepreneur Kieran Snyder, done for Fortune.com, found two differences between workplace performance reviews given to men and women. Across 248 reviews from 28 companies, managers, whether male or female, gave female employees more negative feedback than they gave male employees. Second, 76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.

For the whole article, see the New York Times website.

Volunteers Needed for Get WISE Event

The Center for Pre-College Outreach is looking for about 25 female volunteers to help out at “Get WISE,” an event seeking to raise women’s interest in science and engineering.  Although not sponsored by the Michigan Tech Women in Science and Engineering group (the source of this blog), it is a worthy event that we endorse! The event will be held on Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Volunteers or anyone looking for more information can email dwalsh@mtu.edu.

Nancy Auer’s Sturgeon Book Among Michigan’s Most Notable for 2014

The Library of Michigan has chosen WISE member Professor Nancy Auer’s book “The Great Lake Sturgeon,” coedited with Dave Dempsey, as one of the 2014 Michigan Notable Books.

Twenty books made the list, ranging from Jim Harrison’s “The River Swimmer” to a pie cookbook to a collection of Upper Peninsula poems and stories.

See the whole article in Tech Today on 8 January 2014.  Way to go Nancy!

WISE has First Gathering of 2013-14 School Year

We are having our first Michigan Tech WISE faculty and researcher meeting for the 2013-2014 year. This will be a casual, get-to-know-each-other and catch-up-with-each-other meeting. Please mark this Thursday (9/19) 5:00pm-7:00pm on your calendars.

Please let  Nilufer (nilufer@mtu.edu) know by Wednesday (9/18), if you can come. I need only a ballpark count for planning purposes, feel free to come even if you haven’t signed up.

The details are:

Date: Thursday, September 19, 2013

Time: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Place: Continental Fire Company – upstairs lounge
Downtown Houghton
Address: 408 E Montezuma Ave, Houghton MI 49931
Corner of Huron and Montezuma Streets
Across from Carnegie Museum on Huron Street

Style: WISE will provide refreshments (cheese, fruits). Pizza can be ordered for those who’d like. Please get your own drinks.

WISE stands for Women in Science and Engineering. It is an informal networking and professional development group for faculty and researchers in engineering and science fields at Michigan Tech. We hold monthly luncheon meetings and discuss issues that will help with performing our professional tasks (teaching, research, service) while balancing work and life.

Our co-director team members are Nilufer Onder, associate professor of computer science; Adrienne Minerick, associate professor of chemical engineering; and Nina Mahmoudian, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. We are very excited to start the new academic year and see you.

New Michigan Tech Publication Examines Gender Balance Issues

Beyond the Glass Ceiling is a new student-edited feminist publication at Michigan Tech where writers can examine gender balance issues.  As reported in Michigan Tech News:

Beyond the Glass Ceiling is the successor to the former TechnoBabe Times, a publication largely housed in the humanities department a decade ago. Graduate student Katie Snyder wanted to revive the tradition, with encouragement from faculty, leading to the new publication.

Visit the Michigan Tech News story for more information or go to their Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Beyond-The-Glass-Ceiling-Mich-Tech-Newspaper/216829025108704

Susan Bagley Receives Waksman Outstanding Teaching Award

Susan Bagley, a professor emerita of biological sciences, has received the Waksman Outstanding Teaching Award.

Presented by the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, the award recognizes teaching excellence that incorporates an active, productive research component and is named for Nobel laureate Selman Waksman. Recipients must have been an active, fulltime professor for at least 10 years or have attained emeritus status. Funding for the award is provided by the Waksman Foundation.

David Hand, chair of civil and environmental engineering, has first-hand knowledge of Bagley’s teaching abilities. “I was in the first microbiology class Sue ever taught at Michigan Tech, and she’s never changed,” he said. “Sue doesn’t just teach microbiology, she gets students excited about the subject, and they become eager to learn. That’s her successful strategy for teaching, and we faculty members can all learn from her example.”

Emily Geiger, a PhD student in biochemistry and molecular biology, has nothing but praise for her mentor and former teacher.

“My passion for microbiology, my work ethic and my responsible conduct can be attributed to Dr. Susan T. Bagley,” Geiger said. “She was the first to introduce the topic of microbiology to me, and her teaching and ability to communicate difficult subjects went beyond that of other professors.”

“Dr. Bagley sees the potential in each of her students and pushes us to be the best we can be. She has the ability to make her students believe that they can achieve anything, regardless of the field,” Geiger said. “Dr. Bagley will be a lifelong mentor of mine and an individual I respect and admire for the contribution of her time and knowledge to educate and inspire thousands.”

Chandrashekhar Joshi, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, calls Bagley “one of the most dedicated teachers on the Michigan Tech campus.”

“She truly cares about giving her students the best learning experience. Receiving the Waksman Teaching award is the most appropriate recognition of Sue’s illustrious career, which spans over 30 years,” Joshi said. “She influenced the lives of thousands of Michigan Tech students through her teaching, advising students in their research and serving on graduate committees. Even though Professor Bagley retired recently, we are fortunate that she will continue her educational mission in the capacity of emerita professor.”

For Bagley, the honor was unexpected. “I was completely surprised to learn that I had been selected to receive the Waksman Outstanding Teaching Award,” she said. “The past recipients’ list reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in this field, and I am so honored to join this group. The Waksman Award really recognizes the importance of ensuring that our graduate–and undergraduate–students are prepared for careers, in this case in industrial microbiology and technology. Teaching takes place in all areas, including the formal classroom, the lab and at meetings. In a broad sense it is really about mentoring, making sure that the students have the knowledge, skills and experiences to allow them to succeed after graduation.”

The Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology is a nonprofit, international association dedicated to the advancement of microbiological sciences, especially as they apply to industrial products, biotechnology, materials, and processes.

Published in Tech Today