Let’s Start from the Very Beginning: Implicit Bias Conversations for Faculty Search Committees

Credit: iStock.com/VIDOK
There is a great deal of discussion in higher education about how to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive campuses. Tufts is not unique in its desire to diversify its faculty to better mirror the student population. One challenge in achieving this goal is implicit bias—that is, attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner—in search committees. The Deans of Arts & Sciences and Engineering have made it a priority to address this concern and requested that Human Resources (HR) develop mandatory implicit bias training for faculty search committees. Our HR partner in turn engaged the director of The Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) to discuss how we might together develop a mandatory program that would appeal to and benefit faculty on search committees, providing space for deep discussions about how to address implicit bias in the search process. To mitigate the reaction to all things mandatory, we immediately reframed the sessions from “search committee training” to “search committee conversations.” We decided to work with intact departmental search committees (not mixed groups across departments) to work toward diversifying their faculty in their disciplines. Below we discuss the final model and some preliminary outcomes.

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