2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity

Work in Progress: Proactive Dual-career and Relocation Assistance During the Faculty Interview Process

Presented at Track: Faculty - Technical Session 3

Keywords: Faculty, Engineering, Computer Science

The proportion of tenure-track positions in higher education continues to decrease [1], and of the 2016 doctoral recipients reported in National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates [2], only 14% of those who had earned doctorates in engineering had definite commitments for an academic position after graduation. Therefore, tenure-track positions are highly sought after and applicants want to do their best to demonstrate that they would be the best candidate for the coveted position. In addition, the median age for individuals to earn a doctorate is now 32 for women and 31 for men [2] – ages when many people have established domestic relationships or partners. At the same time, various federal employment non-discrimination laws now limit questions that can be asked about a candidate’s family during the interview process. Indeed, many candidates fear doing or saying anything during the search process that can harm one’s chances of selection. This dichotomy of needs and requirements has led to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture when it comes to candidates’ ability to discuss their partner who might also be seeking a job. This void of shared knowledge or late awareness of such a need can leave university and college administrators who make faculty job offers scrambling to determine what opportunities might be available for the trailing partner. The authors’ institution is working to ease this process for potential candidates and the faculty search chairs by explicitly identifying our college’s support of dual-career couples in advertisements, inviting every on-campus interviewee’s partner to join them during their campus visit, and designing a customized experience for the partner while the candidate is completing interviews. Our goal is to work with partners of academics to ease their process of learning about the employment, housing, school, and social environment to which they would be entering should their partner be offered and accept a tenure-track position, without re-inviting bias into the hiring process that existed before the federal employment non-discrimination policies went into effect. This project is a work in progress through which we will track feedback to the novel program and evaluate the effectiveness of the faculty hiring process.

[1] American Association of University Professors (n.d.) Background Facts on Contingent Faculty Positions. Available at https://www.aaup.org/issues/contingency/background-facts
[2] National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). (2016). Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2016. Available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsf18304/report/what-are-the-postgraduation-trends/first-postgraduate-position-academic-employment.cfm

  1. Mrs. Karen G. Braun University of Colorado, Boulder [biography]
  2. Dr. Sarah Miller University of Colorado, Boulder [biography]
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