A reader writes:
I wanted to pass along this email that I got today from Career Services at my university. This what we grad students have to look forward to when we go on the job market to try to get a job in academia now–a thorough vetting of our commitment to diversity. Notice the complete lack of anything related to intellectual or ideological diversity.
We get emails announcing diversity-only initiatives and fellowships and other opportunities all the time. What’s different now is that this is increasingly becoming part of the materials required for the job application.
I’m sure that the Career Services people were trying to be helpful by sending this list of tips out, but it’s not exactly encouraging. Liberals often wonder why conservatives self-select out of academia; these kinds of requirements that essentially signal that “you will be discriminated against” are one major reason.
Here is the full text of the message sent to grad students at this university:
It is becoming increasingly common to see requests for diversity statements in announcements for tenure-track positions, and you may have already seen requests like these:
- Please submit a cover letter, curriculum vita, research and teaching statements, contact information to 3 to 5 references to provide letters (the names/addresses, including email address), and a separate statement describing your past experience in activities that promote diversity and inclusion and/or plans to make future contributions.
- Please submit the following: a cover letter, curriculum vitae; teaching statement (including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, commitment to effective learning, concepts for new course development, etc.); research and scholarship statement (innovative concepts that will form the basis of academic career, experience in proposal development, mentorship of graduate students, etc.); commitment to diversity statement (including broadening participation, integrating multicultural experiences in instruction and research and pedagogical techniques to meet the needs of diverse learning styles, etc.); samples of research such as working papers, journal articles, or books.
- Interested individuals should submit the following application materials: 1) a cover letter specifying which rank you are applying for; 2) your most recently updated curriculum vitae; 3) Research, Teaching, Service, and Diversity Statement – a statement of research interests, teaching experience, and service, including your contributions toward enhancing diversity and inclusion in higher education; 4) pdf copies of 2-3 publications; and 5) three letters of recommendation
Institutions define diversity in multiple ways; most aim to emphasize that they value the variety of experiences, interests, and worldviews that are informed by differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more. Before you begin writing a draft of your own statement that addresses diversity, a good starting point will be to explore the diversity-focused webpages of several institutions. It is helpful to reflect on your own personal diversity experiences and goals in the same context as these institutions. Some universities have more robust diversity resources than others, but this information can be very helpful in providing background perspectives for your statement. These are just some examples from different institutions (and within the same institution) that illustrate the type of topics addressed:
- University of Chicago
- NC State
- NC State Design
- Johns Hopkins University
- Seattle University
- University of Pennsylvania
With this information in mind, you can now turn your attention to developing your diversity statements. In an ideal scenario, the institution making the request for a diversity statement also describes in detail what they are hoping to get from you. Some good examples are below:
- UC San Diego
- Carnegie Mellon
- Rochester Institute of Technology
Not every institution will provide such clear guidelines, but you can begin to create a draft statement by combining the different recommendations offered by those academic institutions that do. The diversity statement isn’t just a definition of what you mean by diversity, it is a way to demonstrate what you have done and what you will do to engage with diversity going forward. In general terms, diversity statement should include past experiences and activities, and also future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. As you are thinking about your statement, keep the following questions in mind, as these can help you to structure what you are writing about:
- What does diversity mean to you, and why is this important?
- Do you understand the university’s diversity goals?
- What have been some of your experiences either being part of a non-majority group, or interacting with diverse populations?
- How has your thinking about diversity actively influenced your teaching, research, and/or scholarship?
- In thinking about the different roles you have played, and will play, as part of your university service, what role has/will diversity issues play?
- What role do you believe that advising and mentoring play in working with diverse populations?
- Does your engagement with diversity help students prepare for careers in a global society?
Your experiences working with diverse populations will themselves be diverse, and there is no one type of experience that will be sought by search committees. For example, if you are first in family to go to graduate school, you might emphasize that in your statement. If you are a woman scientist in a field where there are not many women faculty (e.g., computer science) you could discuss your experience relating to this as well. As long as you are making an honest attempt to consider your role in meeting each institution’s diversity goals, then you are on the right track. Think about your past experiences and future goals as they relate to these approaches:
Service experience with under-represented groups such as outreach, tutoring, or other types of programs addressing topics relevant to groups such as women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities. This might include being involved in committee or group focused on diversity, equity, climate and/or inclusion
Teaching, advising, or mentoring under-represented or under-served groups
Teaching approaches that focus on different learning styles and that can accommodate different learning abilities
Being aware of challenges faced by historically underrepresented populations
Community involvement beyond the university
Research activities that specifically contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion
Future activities you might pursue in context of how they might fit into a research area, department, campus, or national context, listing any ongoing campus initiatives of particular relevance you have found from your research into the institution’s diversity efforts
If you do not conform to this ideology, you may not be employed. Hey, I believe that as a general rule schools have the right to set the boundaries for what it means to be a part of that community. But “diversity” is such a politically charged category. It is not sufficient that you believe in “diversity”; you have to show how you have acted on that belief. This is a test to weed out politically unreliable or undesirable scholars.
This is a heresy test. This is a loyalty test. I can understand religious universities doing something like this; it is important for them to police their boundaries. But let us note that mainstream secular universities, when they propagate the Cult of Diversity (and it is that, because its dogmas are considered uncontestable), are engaged in a secular-left version of the same kind of thing, while pretending to be tolerant and open.