Mentoring and Diversity

Sophia Wong has posted a short essay on “how to mentor someone who doesn’t look like you”, but as she notes the issues are much broader than those related to appearance– how, for example do you mentor a student with kids if you don’t have kids?  Or a trans person if you’re not trans?  A disabled person if you’re not disabled?  Since under-represented groups *are* under-represented, people from the better represented groups need to do some thinking about how to be good mentors to those unlike them.  And Wong lists some simple, useful tips.  Go check it out!

What do you think? An Open Thread

What are the issues grabbing your attention? 

Are there conferences this summer or in the fall that we should know about?

Or just tell us something you think is interesting or fun or unusual.

We’re working on some past suggestions about changes we might make.  Havinv guest bloggers is one, and we may do that.  I advanced the idea of a “Hall of Shame” for conferences that exclude women, but we have thought probably not. 

We may well post a resource page, with publications about forming search comittees, reviewing files, etc.  I started looking at some of the excellent resources on the web, including a handbook at UMich.  Here’s an interesting passage from that source you might want to comment on:

Initial Discussions of the Search Committee’s Charge should:

-verify that its charge includes particular focus on equitable search practices, and the goal of
identifying outstanding women and underrepresented minority candidates for the position.

• articulate the fact that diversity and excellence are fully compatible goals and can and
should be pursued simultaneously.

• identify selection criteria and develop the position description prior to beginning the search.

• establish plans for actively recruiting women and underrepresented minorities prior to
beginning the search.

• review practices that will mitigate the kinds of evaluation biases that social science research
has identified that result in unfair evaluations for women and minority candidates.

• include discussion of how the plans to represent the school or department’s commitment to
and strategies for hiring and advancing diverse faculty are integrated into the strategies.
This may be of particular concern for departments that have few or no women or
underrepresented minority faculty. In these cases, it may be helpful to develop long-term
strategies for recruiting diverse faculty. For example, the department might consider inviting
women or minority faculty to give talks and then inviting them to apply for positions the
following year.

Does this sound like a conversation your department (or office) could or would have?

Rebecca Traister’s Not Sad

And she made me smile, too. Though I’m not sure I agree with everything she says, it was a good– and different– read. (Now back to the marking!)

And, yes, it’s terrific that generations of little girls will grow up knowing that women can run for president. But count me as gratified that those who do so will also know they are not responsible for bearing the highest expectations for their gender’s morality and politesse, because one hell of a difficult dame has been there before them and knocked everybody around pretty hard.

But the fact that she did it her way, and still managed to break voting records, recalls another lesson of this campaign: that change is, after all, not so hard to come by. It can happen quickly, almost silently. Remember that stage when Clinton was the presumptive candidate for president? It’s a stage she’s paid for ever since, but what I intend never to forget is the brief moment when her inevitability wasn’t questioned, when I could feel free to prefer other candidates because she — a woman — was the status quo choice, and no one was batting an eye about her gender. Sure, it’s now clear that, all along, people were seething at her presumption, her gall. But we saw in those months what it might feel like to have a woman lead us. We didn’t make it real, but we imagined it — positively or negatively — with less kicking and screaming than I ever would have thought possible, and that, by itself, is a step. It’s change…

As each primary approached — from New Hampshire to Super Tuesday to Ohio to Pennsylvania — I was sure that Clinton was toast. But Tuesday after Tuesday, there came the vertiginous thrill of watching the pundits collapse into paroxysms of frustration at this goddamn woman who would not quit and, even worse, kept winning in unexpected places and by unexpected margins, even when they said it was impossible, even when they were hollering for her to get out of the race. I think memories of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann going apoplectic will make me smile for years to come. Male pundits from Jonathan Alter to Howard Fineman to Carl Bernstein to Matthews and Olbermann were licking their lips, salivating for the moment at which she would lay prostrate and beg their forgiveness for her sins of ambition — and she never gave it to them! I wasn’t alone in my giddiness. After one particularly wild election night, perhaps it was Ohio, I got an e-mail from a cousin, a Clinton skeptic who had come to appreciate the senator’s dazzling ability to piss off jerks. “I hope she never stops running,” the e-mail read. “Even after he’s elected.” I knew what she meant. It had nothing to do with Obama. It was about the sheer fun of watching a woman refuse to concede to anyone’s expectations.

Clinton was such a hard-ass that she turned her butchest male critics into the hysterical harpies they accused her of being. What fun, during that final debate, to hear Obama grouse (justifiably) about the ludicrous questions he was facing, while next to him, the broad who had, in an earlier debate, been asked about the fact that nobody liked her cheerily removed the shiv from her thigh and used it as a toothpick.