“I’d like to see more serious thought”

Posted: December 9, 2010 by Jender in lack of mentoring, low numbers of women

I am a (male) graduate student in a Leiter top-20 department. Recently our department’s liaison to a university committee on diversity reported in a faculty meeting on the lack of representation of minorities and women in our department. A grad student always attends faculty meetings and sends reports about the meetings to the grad students.

Maybe it is too much to ask that bold solutions to such large problems be raised at faculty meetings. But the liaison’s suggestions consisted of things like, “try to vary the names of people you use in examples you give to undergraduates, like Tran instead of Tim.” This is something faculty and graduate students should do, obviously — but what about changes that require *real commitment and time* from faculty members? For example, they could work on establishing better mentoring relationships with PhD students, and being sensitive, when mentoring their students, to the tendency of women (and possibly minorities?) to undervalue their work and make self-deprecating remarks about their abilities.

The report on the faculty meeting noted that this part of the meeting was short, and that it ended with faculty members “speculating” about the relative scarcity of female undergrads in upper-level courses. I’m glad they’re thinking about it, but I would like to see more serious thought about how to address under-representation.

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