Diversity Statements for academic job applications

Academic job postings — tenure track, adjunct, post-doc — asking applicants for a Diversity Statement is a relatively new phenomenon. [Note that STEM departments are also asking for such statements.] Some hiring departments want a separate document while others want your discussion of diversity embedded within other documents (sometimes specified, e.g. cover letters, and other times “application materials” in general). This blog post walks you through the process of developing your own statements.

First up, here are some examples of both types of postings:

UC Riverside’s Dept. of Physics and Astronomy is looking for an Asst./Assoc. Professor of Teaching, Physics, tenure-track [Retrieved from physicstoday.org on April 18, 2016]. “It is necessary [for applicants] to submit… a statement of contribution of diversity.”

Purdue Polytechnic’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology posted an ad for a Clinical Asst. Professor [Retrieved from physicstoday.org on April 18, 2016]: “Purdue Polytechnic is committed to advancing diversity in all areas of faculty effort, including scholarship, instruction, and engagement. Candidates should address at least one of these areas in a cover letter, indicating how their past experiences, current interests and activities, and/or future goals could promote a work climate that values inclusion.

DePauw University’s Department of English posted an ad for an Asst. Professor (one year, not tenure-track) [Retrieved from apps.mla.org on April 25, 2016]: “Candidates should provide evidence, in application materials, of a commitment to fostering and engaging with a diversity of ideas and experiences, which create an inclusive environment in the classroom and at the University.

Keep in mind, though, that the majority of job postings do not explicitly ask for a discussion of diversity within the application materials BUT do expect candidates to be comfortable working with diverse populations. In such cases, it will be helpful to mention your own skills and experience in the relevant document(s). Two examples of such job postings:

Virginia Tech’s ad for an Asst./Assoc. Professor of Practice in the Department of Statistics, tenure-track [retrieved from the jobs board on vt.edu on April 25, 2016] requires that applicants must show “a desire to advise and teach a student body which is diverse with respect to socio-economic status, interest, and abilities; and commitment/sensitivity to address issues of diversity in the university community.”

Binghamton University’s ad for an Asst. Professor of Biomedical Engineering, tenure-track [retrieved from Binghamton’s jobs board on April 25, 2016] says, “The Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Watson School are dedicated to the goal of building a diverse and inclusive teaching, research, and working environment. …Candidates with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusiveness are preferred.”

So, how would you include discussions of diversity into your application materials? What sorts of questions would you seek to answer? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Why are more and more institutions asking applicants to discuss their engagements with issues of diversity? For example, read UC Davis’ discussion of why it seeks diversity statements from applicants.
  • What does diversity mean to the hiring department and/or institution? You can look up the institution’s website for any mission statements or initiatives related to diversity and inclusion. Here are some examples:
    1. GA Tech: http://diversity.gatech.edu/understanding-diversity
    2. University of Chicago: http://diversity.uchicago.edu/
    3. North Carolina State University: https://oied.ncsu.edu/main/
  • What does diversity mean to you? Think about your own learned, experiential, spiritual, and political awareness of issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • In what ways have you already engaged with issues of diversity and inclusion as related to multicultural, racial, ethnic, gender identities, disability, sexual orientation, differing political philosophies and socioeconomic status, nontraditional learners etc.?
  • If you haven’t already engaged with these issues, [how] can you start thinking about and engaging with them?
  • What are your ideas for your future? Your future in general? Your future at the institution you are applying to?
    1. Think about your classes, mentoring, research, departmental service, campus involvement, community engagement etc.

As you think about your individual experiences of and ideas about diversity and inclusion, here are three different universities’ guidelines for writing a diversity statement:

You can also follow conversations on websites such as:

These resources should help you write a good draft of your statement (or incorporate ideas and evidence into other application materials). And you can get it reviewed at the CCO during our drop-in hours: Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 4 PM.

Any questions? Email askCCO@purdue.edu or call us at 765-494-3981.

Tags: Academic job applications; diversity

 

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