New Initiative Will ADVANCE Search Committees

New Initiative Will ADVANCE Search Committees

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hiring a diverse, talented workforce begins with the search committee. 

That’s the guiding principle behind a series of seminars for faculty and administrative search committees. The seminars are the first major project of UNH ADVANCE Institutional Transformation, a five-year, $3.47 million initiative funded by the National Science Foundation to support and advance women faculty in STEM fields. The seminars were developed by an ADVANCE committee of faculty with representatives from each college and chaired by Monica Chiu, professor of English. Nearly 90 UNH faculty who are serving on 13 faculty search committees in COLSA and CEPS as well as three search committees for senior administrators will attend the pilot seminar tomorrow (Dec. 5). 

“If you want to hire the best possible candidate, you’ve got to remove the barriers that are preventing some applicants from getting a fair evaluation in the first place,” says Christine Shea, interim vice provost for faculty development and inclusive excellence and ADVANCE co-principal investigator.    

“The search committee seminars will strengthen our policies and practices for attracting and retaining a diverse candidate pool,” says Karen Graham, UNH ADVANCE executive director and professor of mathematics and statistics. 

Participants in the seminar will learn to recognize subtle, often unconscious behaviors that may lead to bias or prejudice in evaluating candidates.  For example, research has repeatedly shown that a resume with a woman’s name at the top is significantly less likely to garner a job offer than the very same resume with the same credentials and a man’s name on it. If a job is offered to the female applicant with the same experience, it is likely to be accompanied by a significantly lower salary offer.   

Participants will be aided in their self-discovery with an innovative interactive theater approach led by David Kaye, chair of theatre and dance department. A troupe of actors will serve as a mock search committee with whom seminar participants will engage. 

While the stated focus of ADVANCE is on women in STEM departments, its leaders at UNH anticipate that over time search committees for all faculty and upper-level administrative positions will participate in similar seminars.   

“The goal of ADVANCE is to transform the institution, to create fairness and equity for all,” says Provost Lisa MacFarlane, who is principal investigator on the NSF grant, which began in 2012. “We believe that projects like these interactive seminars will support access and equity for all faculty, not just for women and not just for those in the STEM fields. ADVANCE will raise awareness across the university about the ways in which unconscious bias shapes our community.” 


For more information, visit the UNH ADVANCE website.