SPP 2009 Conference

Posted by anonfemphil on June 4, 2009

There will be a lunch time discussion of diversity and the SPP on June 13th; Virginia Valian, whose work on diversity is very highly regarded, will be joining us.  Everyone at the conference is welcome to come. 

Below you’ll find info about the lunch and three links to new news about diversity.  This blog is also the repository for a number of posts about diversity and even more links to other resources.

Time and location

June 13; 1:15 to 2:45.

State Room East, on the second floor of the IMU (the main conference building)

Diversity statistics for the 2009 SPP conference.  (Many thanks to the program chairs).
…data from several studies indicate that greater male variability with respect to mathematics is not ubiquitous. Rather, its presence correlates with several measures of gender inequality. Thus, it is largely an artifact of changeable sociocultural factors, not immutable, innate biological differences between the sexes.
(Whatever you think of Sotomayor, it is interesting to see commentary that could be drawn from a handbook on racist and sexist stereotypes.  In these terms, assertive women are bullies and Latinas are sloppy and not too bright.)  H/T to this post.

Posted in bias, event, gender, race, resources | Leave a Comment »

Hiring for 09? Some diversity advice:

Posted by anonfemphil on December 22, 2008

From Jender at FeministPhilosophers:

As we’ve noted before, there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that nearly everyone is subject to unconscious or implicit bias, and that these biases can have an inappropriate impact on hiring decisions. For example (one among many),

In a national study, 238 academic psychologists (118 male, 120 female) evaluated a curriculum vitae randomly assigned a male or a female name. Both male and female participants gave the male applicant better evaluations for teaching, research, and service experience and were more likely to hire the male than the female applicant

So if you’re hiring this year, you may want to think about how to keep this from happening to you. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Learn about and discuss research on biases and assumptions and consciously strive to minimize their influence on your evaluation. Experimental studies show that greater awareness of discrepancies between the ideals of impartiality and actual performance, together with strong internal motivations to respond without prejudice, effectively reduces prejudicial behavior.

2. Develop evaluation criteria prior to evaluating candidates and apply them consistently to all applicants. Research shows that different standards may be used to evaluate male and female applicants and that when criteria are not clearly articulated before reviewing candidates evaluators may shift or emphasize criteria that favor candidates from well-represented demographic groups.

3. Spend sufficient time (at least 20 minutes) evaluating each applicant. Evaluators who were busy, distracted by other tasks, and under time pressure gave women lower ratings than men for the same written evaluation of job performance. Sex bias decreased when they were able to give all their time and attention totheir judgments, which rarely occurs in actual work settings.

4. Be able to defend every decision for eliminating or advancing a candidate. Research shows that holding evaluators to high standards of accountability for the fairness of their evaluation reduces the influence of bias and assumptions.

5. Periodically evaluate your judgments, determine whether qualified women and underrepresented minorities are included in your pool, and consider whether evaluation biases and assumptions are influencing your decisions by asking yourself the following questions:

a. Are women and minority candidates subject to different expectations in areas such as numbers of publications, name recognition, or personal acquaintance with a committee member?
b. Have the accomplishments, ideas, and findings of women or minority candidates been undervalued or unfairly attributed to a research director or collaborators despite contrary evidence in publications or letters of reference?
c. Are assumptions about possible family responsibilities and their effect on a candidate’s career path negatively influencing evaluation of a candidate’s merit, despite evidence of productivity?

All of the above suggestions are taken from an excellent brochure that Alphafeminist called to our attention, which can be found in its very excellent entirety here. (And there are many more suggestions, and a lot more data, there.)

I think most departments genuinely do want to increase their hiring of women and minorities. But I also think that implicit bias may be impeding these efforts. If I’m right about the former, then departments might want to entertain the possibility that implicit bias is playing this role. And they should be glad to have some suggestions about how to take action against it. With that in mind, I urge you to pass some of this information on to friends and colleagues involved in hiring even if you’re not involved yourself.
Update: As AZ notes in comments, departments should also be careful about weighting pedigree too heavily. If someone comes from a less prestigious pedigree, and has held less research-friendly jobs, but has *nonetheless* managed to get a damned good publication record, surely this is a sign that they will do even better in a more salubrious environment. Such candidates should be viewed as potentially especially promising, rather than getting passed over.

Posted in bias, hiring, resources | 1 Comment »

Research on the Implicit Association Test

Posted by anonfemphil on November 20, 2008

Before you read this, you may want to look at earlier posts on implicit bias.  The first  is here.

Some positive:

“Implicit Association: Validity Debates.” A collection of research, compiled by A. Greenwald.
“The “Implicit Association Test at age 7: A methodological and conceptual review.” B. Nosek, A.G. Greenwald, M.R. Banaji. (In J. A. Bargh, ed., Automatic processes in social thinking and behavior. Psychology Press. 2007)

“Understanding and Using the Implicit Association Test III.” A meta-analysis of more than 100 studies that concludes the IAT has predictive validity. A. G. Greenwald, T. A. Poehlman, E. L. Uhlmann, M. R. Banaji. (In press, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)

“IAT Studies Showing Validity with ‘Real-World’ Subject Populations.” Collection of 20 reports.

Some more negatively critical:

“Unconscious Racism: A Concept in Pursuit of a Measure.” A critique of IAT and unconscious bias theory. H. Blanton, J. Jaccard. (Annual Review of Sociology, 2008.)

“Strong Claims and Weak Evidence: Reassessing the Predictive Validity of the IAT.” H. Blanton, J. Jaccard, J. Klick, B. Mellers, G. Mitchell, P.E. Tetlock. (In press, Journal of Applied Psychology.)

“Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Implicit Measures and Their Frequently Supposed, But Not Entirely Correct Answers.”
A look at the strengths and weaknesses of the IAT and other implicit measures. B. Gawronski. (In press, Canadian Psychology.)

Readings compiled in the NY Times.

Posted in resources | 4 Comments »

Hiring in 08-09?

Posted by anonfemphil on October 31, 2008

Research has shown that even those seeking to hire a minority can end up preferring a member of the  majority who is not as well qualified.  Implicit bias may be a big culprit in the process.  From feministphilosopher.wordpress.com comes a list of resources for dealing with implicit bias:

Here is a link to a short pamphlet from the Cornell ADVANCE Center on dealing with Implicit Bias http://advance.cornell.edu/resources/Reducing-Stereotyping-Biases-in-Hiring.pdf

Here is a link to a great pamphlet prepared by the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at Wisconsin-Madison: http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/initiatives/hiring/BiasBrochure_2ndEd.pdf

Here is a long document that is pretty specific to the University of Wisconsin that has a thorough section on the impact of implicit bias and how to manage tendencies toward bias in searches. This one has all kinds of cool resources for chairs of search committees : http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/initiatives/hiring/SearchBook.pdf

I think the two big factors that reduce the impact of implicit bias are (1) know that it exists and (2) give yourself sufficient time to look at an applicant’s entire application package. Course releases for faculty who are active in a search committee is a pipe dream of mine.

Posted in bias, hiring | Leave a Comment »

Some Resources

Posted by anonfemphil on October 18, 2008

  1.  The website for the National Science Foundation’s Advance Program, which aims to improve the representation of women in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
  2. A excellent and informative pamphlet drawn up by philosophers and scientists about the causes of the lack of diversity and about remedial measures:  go here.
  3. Sally Haslanger’s well-known paper on changing the ideology and culture of philosophy; it’s here.
  4. From England’s Wellcome Trust; possibly defensive reaction to the finding on gender discrimination and peer review in Sweden.
  5. Reflections on the evalution of men and women by a Stanford biologist who underwent a female to male sex transformation: here and, for a report on a related panel, here.
  6. Tutorials for change on gender schemas and science:  slides shows on the effects of gender discrimination and an hypothesis to explain it by Virginia Valian.  Her work, particular her book, Why so Slow?, forms a classic resource.
  7. Unlocking the Clubhouse, an account of Carnegie Mellon’s diagnosis of thecauses of the lack of women in their computer science graduate program and their successful steps in changing it.
  8. Athena Unbound:  has some data about the international position of women in academia, including an explanation of why some muslim counntries look more favorably on women in science  than the US does.
  9. From the University of Michigan’s Advance website:

Posted in resources | 2 Comments »

So let’s just bite the bullet and hire more women.

Posted by anonfemphil on October 13, 2008

The hiring rates of women in philosophy at the TT level are among the worst in universities, worse even than physics.

If a discipline is falling behind others on its support of diversity, it probably is not such a good thing for the area.  Why should women even try to compete in a field they perceive as hostile?  Far better to go into psychology, for example.  At least in cognitive psychology, women have reached about 35%.  In 2008, 12 women submitted papers in philosophy to the SPP.  That suggests  a certain lack of growth in the field.

We may have reached a tipping point or a dead end, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.  If nothing else, this is not a politically healthy situation. 

So unfair though many people no doubt will think it is, maybe colleges and universities should make an effort to hire women.  Ads could encourage women to apply, committes could pay special attention to female applications and so on.  In a short period, we can turn this around, right?

Wrong.  Or probably wrong.  A lot of places have been doing that for at least two decades and it doesn’t seem to be making a big enough difference, if it is making any.  And if we look at the very well studied case of  race and jobs, we can see the same problem.

 Much prejudice tends to be indirect; bias leads one to perceive equally qualified people as qualified differently.  As a very interesting WaPo article on implicit bias says:

In perhaps the most dramatic real-world correlate of the bias tests, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago recently sent out 5,000 résumés to 1,250 employers who had help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. The résumés were culled from Internet Web sites and mailed out with one crucial change: Some applicants were given stereotypically white-sounding names such as Greg; others were given black-sounding names such as Tyrone.

Interviews beforehand with human resources managers at many companies in Boston and Chicago had led the economists to believe that black applicants would be more likely to get interview calls: Employers said they were hungry for qualified minorities and were aggressively seeking diversity. Every employer got four résumés: an average white applicant, an average black applicant, a highly skilled white applicant and a highly skilled black applicant.

The economists measured only one outcome: Which résumés triggered callbacks?

To the economists’ surprise, the résumés with white-sounding names triggered 50 percent more callbacks than résumés with black-sounding names. Furthermore, the researchers found that the high-quality black résumés drew no more calls than the average black résumés. Highly skilled candidates with white names got more calls than average white candidates, but lower-skilled candidates with white names got many more callbacks than even highly skilled black applicants.

For employers who think they want to hire minority workers, an average white applicant can seem better than a highly qualified minority candidate. 

So what’s causing the  problem and what can we do?  Good questions!

Posted in bias, gender, race | 4 Comments »

Unconscious bias

Posted by anonfemphil on October 13, 2008

If you think you could consciously detect any racism and/or sexism in yourself, you might be in for a surprise.

Have a look at the tests here.

Remember that being a woman or being a black is not going to make you immune to the bias.  Judging on academic merits alone may be really harder than we may have thought.

And, in the interest of self-disclosure, I should say I did not do well on the women and science test, despite years of advocacy for women in science.

Posted in bias, gender, race | 1 Comment »

Welcome to the blog for the SPP Committee on Diversity!

Posted by anonfemphil on October 13, 2008

 The Committee on Diversity of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology


This blog should be  the locus for the Committee’s newsletter and more, including articles and discussions.

The Committee was convened to address the issue of diversity in the fields that the SPP encompasses, with some special initial emphasis on women in philosophy.  The emphasis on philosophy is due to the fact that philosophy is less diverse than the other fields.  Though the committee takes very seriously a goal of diversity that is more than gender diversity, the expertise in the society makes women’s participation a reasonable starting point.

Overall, philosophy’s diversity profile is quite different  from that of most other fields, including not just the humanities, but also many of the sciences.  For example, though the figures for philosophy have been compiled somewhat informally, it looks as though women comprise 25% of the recent tenure track hire in physics, while in the philosophy the comparable figure looks to be about 20%.

Why is that and what can be done about it?  Those are questions the committee is asking, and we hope you will participate in finding answers and solutions.

There is one rule for the blog:  This place must allow for open discussion.  Hostile attacks, so common on the internet, will make participation here less desirable for many people.  Though we will not start off with any moderation, offensive comments will be deleted.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »