When a job ad is obviously looking to make a diversity hire, is being non-heterosexual enough? I'm a bisexual white woman from a middle-class background who has lived all over the world (so also have a diversity of perspectives on issues). Is it a waste of time for me to apply to these diversity-hire type positions or worth a shot?
Date: 21 Oct 2014 11:10
Number of posts: 6
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Diversity is broadly defined. For these positions, it's often helpful to talk about your perspectives regarding diversityin your research, teaching, and/or mentoring. Diversity statements are usually an opportunity to do soin addition to your cover letter. I would say that you should apply. It is NOT a waste of time.
In a similar boat so have been looking for any mention of this topic in job postings. The majority I've seen give no specific information on what qualifies in their mind, but did come across an interesting posting from UMich for a combined post-doc/tenure track job in psych (posted on the aps website):
"We seek applicants whose research, teaching and service will contribute to our diversity mission. We are particularly interested in scholars who are members of groups that have been historically underrepresented in Psychology or whose research interests bring a critical perspective to understanding the experiences of groups that are historically under-represented (by race, ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual orientation etc.)."
It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, disability, etc. except under very narrow conditions (e.g., the job requires very specific BFOQ's like casting for specific role in modeling/art, hiring for a specific church, flying a commercial plane after 60 years old). Whoever you are, if you feel like you'd want to take on the responsibility of playing a major leadership position for many years to come in a faculty position at a leading US university with the specific charge of promoting diversity via professional actives then you should apply. You can't be compelled to identify anything regarding sexual orientation for the position (note that this record will become public property and public record in some sense because it will be processed by a public university). Still, you may decide sexual orientation is something you'd want to disclose but I guess it's worth careful consideration. Note that university of Michigan has an impressive track-record of (winning/losing) discrimination cases that make their way all the way to the supreme court (e.g., do a quick google search if you enjoy irony). If you apply and have good reason to think they discriminated based primarily on any protected attribute then you can (and probably should) sue and I guess lots of lawyers would take on a case like that (assuming you could really show that you were the best candidate or some other violation of process, etc.)
Bottom line: If this is something you're passionate about and you're confident you can be/come a leader and luminary on these and related issues, no matter who you are you should go for it!!! The only way any evaluation will be legally defensible is if they consider the whole candidate (e.g., research, teaching, service, other, etc.).
as someone who is on a sc for a diversity hire right now, I can say that you can and should disclose everything you can about yourself that makes you diverse (first generation college student? sexuality? everything) in your personal life, your research, and your teaching. It may be that the kind of diversity you offer just won't "count" for the sc (whatever that means), but if the sc doesn't know HOW you would contribute to diversity, they won't be able to evaluate you on that, and that can work against you (compared to other candidates who may disclose all sorts of stuff). Caveat: don't disclose mental illness or other very personal struggles unless you have a good reason to.
The sc is not allowed to ask you about this stuff, but it's also hard to ignore once we know it about you, and that can work to your benefit. Just like in a court case — some evidence is considered inadmissible, but juries have a hard time forgetting it.
Finally, I agree with FakeNameProf — in a selfish way, we want to get a job by any means necessary, but a real consideration is that if you are hired as a diversity hire, you will be doing the school, your students, and the field a disservice if you fail to actually act in a way that substantially promotes diversity — this may mean extra committee and mentoring work, and may mean being the force behind diversity initiatives. If that's not your bag (just in general — maybe it IS your bag, but for some people it isn't), maybe leave the job for someone who will take that very real and very necessary challenge on.