26 Here we cite a few of
these efforts’ key characteristics:
˲ Provide training for faculty search
committees on best practices. Unconscious bias in academic hiring and
evaluating remains widespread,
raising awareness of such bias helps
reduce its influence. Moreover, training can help each committee build a
more diverse pool of candidates, design an effective interview schedule,
avoid common pitfalls when interviewing women candidates, and ensure that committee members have
the answers to often-asked questions.
˲ Identify potential women candidates and build proactive relationships with them, even during years
when the department is not conducting a search. For example, invite
promising women graduate students
and postdocs to give presentations or
conduct seminars. Invite female researchers from industry to visit the department for, say, a week. Invite untenured women faculty from institutions
(especially those with records of often
denying tenure) to give colloquia.
˲ Be prepared to help find jobs for
women candidates’ spouses or partners,
28 many of whom are academics
themselves, often in science or engineering disciplines. Some academic
institutions in fact have programs to
assist departments interested in hiring the spouse or partner of an especially talented faculty candidate.
˲ Establish parent-friendly practices in the department and institution.
For example, do not schedule department meetings after 5 P.M. and encour-
“though female leaders have the same
technical challenges and are expected to
produce the same kind of results as
male leaders, there is often a cultural
context that influences their approach
and a different interpretation of their
performance that ups the ante.”
fRanCIne BeRman: DIReCtoR, san DIeGo suPeRComPuteR CenteR;
hIGh PeRfoRmanCe ComPutInG enDo WeD ChaIR, JaCoBs sChooL of
enGIneeRInG, unIVeRsIt Y of CaLIfoRnIa, san DIeGo.
age the institution to provide paid parental leave for faculty members with
For the last 15 years, CRA-W, through
its Cohort of Associate Professors Project, has maintained programs to help
young women CS faculty progress successfully; and it has also conducted
workshops for older female faculty further along in their careers. Significant
support/programs are also offered
through the NSERC-Industry WISE
chairs, ADVANCE grants, and more recently the ABI TechLeaders workshops
for senior academic women.
For beginning untenured faculty,
important actions by the department
˲ Provide a lighter teaching load for
the first two years and limit the num-
ber of different courses she teaches
during the first four years. Encourage each new faculty member to participate in professional-development
courses offered by the institution
and to invite other faculty members
to observe her teaching. In addition,
perform informal midterm teaching
evaluations in all of her courses.
˲ At research-intensive institutions:
Ensure that new faculty members receive enough startup funding to support two or more graduate students
for at least two years. Provide significant help in writing grant proposals.
˲ Make certain that the new faculty
member understands what is expected in order to gain tenure. Provide
clear and constructive feedback annually on achievements she should focus
“if we want young girls to choose to learn
how to program computers, we need to
deeply understand the kinds of programs
girls will be motivated to create and design
programming environments that make
those programs readily achievable.”
Composite screenshot from storytelling alice.
CaItLIn KeLLeheR: assIstant PRofessoR ComPuteR sCIenCe anD enGIneeRInG;
as a Ph.D. stuDent WoRKInG WIth RanDY PausCh, CReateD “stoRYteLLInG aLICe“
to InsPIRe mIDDLe sChooL GIRLs to LeaRn PRoGRammInG.
feBRuaRY 2009 | vol. 52 | No. 2 | CommunICatIons of the aCm