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Evidenced-Based DEI Best Practices

Our Top Twelve Evidence Based Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Best Practices for Advancing Faculty Diversity and Equity

Compiled by the Advancing Faculty Diversity Workgroup, 2020-2021, UC Santa Cruz


Equity and Inclusion in Academia

Research-based guidance for fostering greater educational equity:

McNair, Tia Brown, Bensimon, Estela M., and Malcom‐Piqueux, Lindsay. (2020). From Equity Talk to Equity Walk. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

From book summary. From Equity Talk to Equity Walk offers practical guidance on the design and application of campus change strategies for achieving equitable outcomes. Drawing from campus-based research projects sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, this volume provides real-world steps that reinforce primary elements for examining equity in student achievement, while challenging educators to specifically focus on racial equity as a critical lens for institutional and systemic change.


Proven strategies for improving racial and gender diversity in faculty hiring:

Bhalla, Needhi. (2019). Strategies to improve equity in faculty hiring. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 30(22) 

Abstract. Through targeted recruitment and interventions to support their success during training, the fraction of trainees (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) in academic science from historically underrepresented groups has steadily increased. However, this trend has not translated to a concomitant increase in the number of faculty from these underrepresented groups. Here, I focus on proven strategies that departments and research institutions can develop to increase equity in faculty hiring and promotion to address the lack of racial and gender diversity among their faculty.


Pursuing equity work in California after Prop 209:

Kidder, William C. and Gándara, Patricia. (2015). Two Decades After the Affirmative Action Ban: Evaluating the University of California’s Race-Neutral Efforts. Educational Testing Services.

AFDW Summary. While some data is mixed, on the whole, the passage of Proposition 209 led to fewer admissions of BIPOC students, especially in the years immediately following its passage in 1996. The most dramatic inequalities were seen on the wealthiest UC campuses, especially UCLA and UC Berkeley. However, some race-neutral alternative strategies to increase enrollment of underrepresented minority students such as targeted outreach, high school partnerships, and academic preparation programs can yield a more diverse student body.



Think carefully about how desired research area is listed in the ad:

Stacy, Angelica, Goulden, Marc, Frasch, Karie and Broughton, Janet. (2018). Searching for a Diverse Faculty: Data-Driven Recommendations. Report from UC Berkeley.

From the Executive Summary. The general practice that yielded the strongest positive association with diversity at various search stages was the practice of describing the search area in a way that was likely to tap especially rich applicant pools of women and URMs. The results were especially striking when the search description explicitly mentioned research interests that included women or minorities.


Attending workshops improves uptake of recommendations:

Denise Sekaquaptewa, Koji Takahashi, Janet Malley, Keith Herzog, Sara Bliss. (2019) An evidence-based faculty recruitment workshop influences departmental hiring practice perceptions among university faculty. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal. 38(7). 3-24.

From Article. Findings: Faculty had more favorable attitudes toward equitable search strategies if they had attended a workshop or if they were in a department where more of their colleagues had. Workshop attendance also increased intentions to act on two of three recommendations measured, and led to greater belief in evidence-based descriptions of gender biases… Practical implications: The present studies demonstrate that an evidence-based recruitment workshop can lead faculty to adopt more favorable attitudes toward strategies that promote gender diversity in hiring. Originality/value: These studies provide evidence of the role of belief in social science research evidence in explaining the effectiveness of a program designed to increase faculty diversity.


Balanced applicant pools lead to more equitable outcomes:

Heilman, Madeline E. (1980). The impact of situational factors on personnel decisions concerning women: Varying the sex composition of the applicant pool. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. 26(3). 386-395.

Abstract. One hundred male and female MBA students evaluated a woman applicant for a managerial position when the proportion of women in the applicant pool was varied. Results indicated that personnel decisions of both males and females were significantly more unfavorable when women represented 25% or less of the total pool. Additional findings suggest that this effect was mediated by the degree to which sex stereotypes predominated in forming impressions of applicants. The results were interpreted as supportive of the thesis that situational factors can function to reduce the adverse effects of sex stereotypes in employment settings.


Hiring Process

Diverse scholars are more innovative, but their work is taken up by others less than it should be:

Hofstra, B., Kulkarni, V. V., Galvez, S. M. N., He, B., Jurafsky, D., & McFarland, D. A. (2020). The diversity–innovation paradox in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(17), 9284-9291.

Abstract. Prior work finds a diversity paradox: Diversity breeds innovation, yet underrepresented groups that diversify organizations have less successful careers within them. Does the diversity paradox hold for scientists as well? We study this by utilizing a near-complete population of ∼1.2 million US doctoral recipients from 1977 to 2015 and following their careers into publishing and faculty positions. We use text analysis and machine learning to answer a series of questions: How do we detect scientific innovations? Are underrepresented groups more likely to generate scientific innovations? And are the innovations of underrepresented groups adopted and rewarded? Our analyses show that underrepresented groups produce higher rates of scientific novelty. However, their novel contributions are devalued and discounted: For example, novel contributions by gender and racial minorities are taken up by other scholars at lower rates than novel contributions by gender and racial majorities, and equally impactful contributions of gender and racial minorities are less likely to result in successful scientific careers than for majority groups. These results suggest there may be unwarranted reproduction of stratification in academic careers that discounts diversity’s role in innovation and partly explains the underrepresentation of some groups in academia.


Scholars are not equitably rewarded for their achievements:

Bendels, M. H., Müller, R., Brueggmann, D., & Groneberg, D. A. (2018). Gender disparities in high-quality research revealed by Nature Index journals. PloS one. 13(1)

From Abstract. Women are underrepresented at prestigious authorships compared to men (Prestige Index = -0.42). The underrepresentation accentuates in highly competitive articles attracting the highest citation rates, namely, articles with many authors and articles that were published in highest-impact journals. More specifically, a large negative correlation between the 5-Year-Impact-Factor of a journal and the female representation at prestigious authorships was revealed (r(52) = -.63, P < .001). Women publish fewer articles compared to men (39.0% female authors are responsible for 29.8% of all authorships) and are underrepresented at productivity levels of more than 2 articles per author. Articles with female key authors are less frequently cited than articles with male key authors. The gender-specific differences in citation rates increase the more authors contribute to an article. Distinct differences at the journal, journal category, continent and country level were revealed. The prognosis for the next decades forecast a very slow harmonization of authorships odds between the two genders.


Where a scholar trained is not as important as where they end up working:

Way, S. F., Morgan, A. C., Larremore, D. B., & Clauset, A. (2019). Productivity, prominence, and the effects of academic environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116(22), 10729-10733.

Abstract. Faculty at prestigious institutions produce more scientific papers, receive more citations and scholarly awards, and are typically trained at more-prestigious institutions than faculty with less prestigious appointments. This imbalance is often attributed to a meritocratic system that sorts individuals into more-prestigious positions according to their reputation, past achievements, and potential for future scholarly impact. Here, we investigate the determinants of scholarly productivity and measure their dependence on past training and current work environments. To distinguish the effects of these environments, we apply a matched-pairs experimental design to career and productivity trajectories of 2,453 early-career faculty at all 205 PhD-granting computer science departments in the United States and Canada, who together account for over 200,000 publications and 7.4 million citations. Our results show that the prestige of faculty’s current work environment, not their training environment, drives their future scientific productivity, while current and past locations drive prominence. Furthermore, the characteristics of a work environment are more predictive of faculty productivity and impact than mechanisms representing preferential selection or retention of more-productive scholars by more-prestigious departments. These results identify an environmental mechanism for cumulative advantage, in which an individual’s past successes are “locked in” via placement into a more prestigious environment, which directly facilitates future success. The scientific productivity of early-career faculty is thus driven by where they work, rather than where they trained for their doctorate, indicating a limited role for doctoral prestige in predicting scientific contributions.



Racial equity requires faculty to work to become equity minded:

Liera, R. (2020). Moving Beyond a Culture of Niceness in Faculty Hiring to Advance Racial Equity. American Educational Research Journal, 57(5), 1954–1994.

AFDW Summary. Racial equity work requires faculty to develop the capacity to be equit minded (Bensimon, 2007; Bensimon & Malcom, 2012; Dowd & Bensimon, 2015). This includes faculty learning about their university’s history with racism, developing the language to name racism, and creating artifacts to change the culture. As the findings show, establishing ground rules to have honest conversations about racism, to hold one another accountable to interrogate racism and to keep the conversations confidential created a space where faculty trusted one another and focused on taking action toward change. These artifacts mediated White faculty learning that racially equity work involves emotional commitment, while validating the experiences of racially minoritized faculty. In addition to emotional investment, racial equity work is an organizational effort that requires senior administrators to invest time, resources, and labor to show their support for a faculty-led inquiry activity.


Institutional devaluation of non-mainstream knowledge:

Settles, I. H., Jones, M. K., Buchanan, N. T., & Dotson, K. (2020). Epistemic exclusion: Scholar(ly) devaluation that marginalizes faculty of color. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advance online publication.

Abstract. Faculty of color experience a number of challenges within academia, including tokenism, marginalization, racial microaggressions, and a disconnect between their racial/ethnic culture and the culture within academia. The present study examined epistemic exclusion as another challenge in which formal institutional systems of evaluation combine with individual biases toward faculty of color to devalue their scholarship and deem them illegitimate as scholars. Using data from interviews with 118 faculty of color from a single predominantly White, research-intensive institution, we found that epistemic exclusion occurs through formal hierarchies that determine how scholarship is valued and the metrics used to assess quality, and through informal processes that further convey to faculty of color that they and their scholarship are devalued. In addition, there was variability in reporting these experiences by race, gender, nationality, and discipline. We found that faculty of color coped with epistemic exclusion by being assertive and by seeking validation and support outside the institution. Finally, participants described a number of negative work-related and psychological consequences of their epistemic exclusion. We discuss epistemic exclusion as a form of academic gatekeeping that impedes the recruitment, advancement, and retention of faculty of color and offer strategies to address this barrier.


Solutions and best practices:

Guenter-Schlesinger, Sue and Ojikutu, Kunle. (2009) Best Practices: Recruiting & Retaining Faculty & Staff of Color. Western Washington University.

AFDW Summary. Report by Western Washington University in a commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce to its mission of “Engaged Excellence.” The report comes from a review of faculty and staff of color initiatives at other universities (including engagement with UCSC). A summary of the results and conclusions of “Best Practices”: 1. Funding. Competitive beginning salary and Start-up incentives (labs, equipment, TAs, etc); “Bridge Funding” to hire a diverse candidate in anticipation of a retirement. Use centralized funding to “bridge” funding until retirement (practiced at Northwestern and Cal State LA); Funding for Faculty of Color Research Projects; Diversity Achievement Awards; Women of Color Empowerment Dinners/Awards; Internal Grant programs aimed at funding junior scholars; Fundraising campaigns to support faculty/staff of color. 2. Cluster Hiring. Hiring more than one person of color at a time, minimizing isolation and overload (utilized successfully at many universities). 3. Mentoring Programs. Critical component for the professional development of junior faculty; Proven to improve retention rates of underrepresented minority faculty; Reinforce a respectful, positive work environment; Duke University has extended/regularized mentorship programs to undergrads, grads, post-doctoral fellows - improving “culture”; Virginia Tech implemented strong mentorship program to support women and minority faculty to combat the “chilly” and “alienating” environment; Welcoming events for faculty of color are utilized and successful at many universities. 4. Campus-wide diversity/cultural competency training for new/existing faculty and staff; Comprehensive Diversity Plan (supported by President, Provosts); Including outcome assessments; Visiting Scholar Programs; Faculty Exchange Programs. 5. Campus Climate Assessment. Department by Department assessment of “inclusiveness” of their environment; Many climate assessment instruments available; Focus groups (focused on faculty/staff of color). 6. Retention Studies (Data Collection). Exit Interviews with Faculty/Staff of Color; Why faculty of color leave. 7. Leadership Opportunities for Faculty of Color. 8. Multicultural Resources for Candidates and New Faculty/Staff of Color. 9. Enhancements to Search Process. Diversity workshops for Departments. 10. Targeting underrepresented groups of individuals. 11. Job Announcement Shaped to Attract and Center Diversity.