Better vs. not really
Well, taking the weekend off helped in a lot of ways, and I got a lot done yesterday.
One thing I found out this weekend was not very encouraging. It's funny, though, in a black humor - aha I knew it! that explains a lot! - kinda way.
Although we hear lots about how "most" universities are either trying or are forced to use some kind of affirmative action in their faculty searches, not all of them are actually even trying.
This weekend I found out from a friend that one of the places I always wanted to go is among the worst when it comes to hiring.
Case in point: last year they interviewed 6 people.
1) 1 of the 6 people they interviewed was female.
2) The search committee consisted of: two guys.
3) They concluded after the interviews that the one woman they interviewed was
"too unfocused" and "sounded like a first-year grad student."
4) They also concluded that "the best candidates" are "waiting" and "not applying right now."
(I can't quite follow the logic of why the best candidates would be waiting to apply, but hey, since I think I'm one of the best candidates and didn't apply last year, I kind of have to laugh at that.)
However, when asked how they chose the candidates, and whether they even tried to take diversity into account, the answer was that they "just interviewed the top candidates."
5) The reason these two guys ran the search: the department chair is basically a figurehead. They're sort of the puppetmasters of their department. But how would an applicant know that before applying there, unless they had friends inside?
6) The two guys said there were no women faculty on the search "committee" because they were given "ample opportunity" and "chose not to participate".
Uh huh. I can think of about ten reasons why that might be, and none of them make me feel better about the outcome.
7) Last but not least, the department somehow 'dictated' that they wanted new faculty who work in particular areas, so topic was one of the major criteria by which candidates were chosen to interview.
However- and this is in some ways the best punchline- neither of the two guys choosing the candidates knows anything about the topics that were supposed to be top priority.
One has to wonder, then, how qualified these two guys could be to evaluate the quality and impact of the work from these candidates.
My guess is that lots of departments conduct searches this way, and even if there are more bodies on the search committee, it doesn't mean anyone in the whole group knows anything about the research topics of the candidates they're supposed to be evaluating.
So there you have it, folks. Another example of the scientific ways in which we hire scientists, while making conscientious strides towards increasing diversity.