Category Archives: equitable policies & practices

Advising PhD Students: Innovative Instructor

Check out the most recent post on the Innovative Instructor blog from JHU’s Center for Educational Resources, including fresh advice from Science:coffee cup

  1. Approach the power dynamic between mentor and mentee by invoking relevant research. Aspects of mentoring line up with aspects of parenting; to say this is not to infantilize students but rather to acknowledge the power difference as well as (often) the generational difference—and to avoid reinventing the wheel. Research shows the benefits of “authoritativeness, which is defined by both high expectations and high attentiveness; offering a safe haven in times of distress; and fostering a secure base to promote exploration.”
  2. Communicate your confidence in students’ abilities and potential. Again, from the research: “if students think their professors believe that only a few special people have intellectual potential, it can harm their sense of belonging and their performance.”
  3. Model a growth mindset, and “help mentees embrace failure as growth.” One of the authors, Jay J. Van Bavel, shares his unofficial bio alongside his formal one. Some faculty circulate failure CVs.

(The whole article, from March 2019, is here: “Three research-based lessons to improve your mentoring”)

And these closing remarks from JHU Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design Farouk Dey: “Try not to ask [students] ‘What do you want to do?’ Instead ask, ‘What has inspired you lately?’ ‘What action can you take to turn that inspiration into reality and how can I help you with that?’”

Building diverse leadership: Michigan’s college of engineering

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 7.37.16 AMIn the Chronicle article “An Engineering School With Half of Its Leadership Female? How Did That Happen?”  Alec D. Gallimore, the dean of University of Michigan College of Engineering, traces Michigan’s progress to work begun back in 2001 through an ADVANCE grant. A quick excerpt (although the whole article deserves a read):

Often when I tell people that we have filled half of the top leadership positions at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering with women, I can almost see the unspoken assumption in many of their eyes: They think we did it by passing over better-qualified male candidates.

At the 10 U.S. engineering schools with the largest research budgets, women make up about 17 percent of the faculty. It’s always noticed when women constitute a higher-than-usual proportion of an engineering college’s leadership, but somehow we don’t make the same assumptions about talent when all of a school’s top positions are filled by men.

In our case, the numerical skew toward hiring women comes from expecting more — not less — of our top administrators. Being an accomplished engineer is still a requirement, but it is no longer sufficient. Our leaders also need to be able to see and articulate biases in the organization and propose ways to counter them. It turned out that the women who were hired as leaders in our latest round performed better on those measures.

Dean Gallimore offers this advice:

  • Find out where your playing field isn’t level. [gather data]
  • Train your hiring committees to challenge unconscious biases.
  • To cultivate leaders, ensure equal access to mentors. [launch committees]
  • Redefine “merit” to include “taking inequality seriously.”
  • Diversity is not a charitable cause. It’s about staying competitive.


Yale’s Ethnicity, Race, & Migration Program Loses 13 Tenured Professors

Key terms: URM; programs (v. department); labor; tenure review.Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 1.32.54 PM


When 13 professors at Yale University said on Friday they would cut ties with the institution’s ethnicity, race, and migration program, they said their decision was rooted in a history of inequity.

The professors, all senior-level scholars, said the program had been stuck in a vulnerable position for years, without the hiring authority, resources, or stability that departments and other programs have. And despite promises from senior administrators, the faculty members, many of whom are scholars of color, said nothing had changed.

So they resigned from the program en masse, in hopes of sending a message that the model — a “formula of borrowed labor,” one professor called it — was unsustainable.

Read more here: “Yale Professors’ Protest Casts Doubt on a Big Faculty-Diversity Initiative:”



“Wisdom without apology”

Today, a brief excerpt from Tina Brown’s NYT op-ed What Happens When Women Stop Leading Like Men: JacindScreen Shot 2019-04-01 at 9.43.24 PMa Ardern, Nancy Pelosi and the power of female grace”

It’s past time for women to stop trying to cram themselves into outdated NASA spacesuits designed for an alien masculine physique. Salvation doesn’t lie in pursuing traditional male paths of ejaculatory self-elevation. In drawing on women’s wisdom without apology and pushing that wisdom forward into positions of power, we can soothe our world and, maybe, even save it.


Related: Marisa Porges, “What the Failed All-Female Spacewalk Tells Us About Office Temperature: In a for-men, by-men world, the little things still really do hurt women”

Jessica Marie Johnson: Pay the Thunder No Mind

Take a moment to read Professor Johnson’s recent essay reflecting on the Hopkins police force debate. Here is an excerpt:Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 10.13.28 AM

Johns Hopkins University isn’t a person. It’s a lot of moving parts. Those parts can be dismantled, reassembled, refurnished into something more human, more loving, more attuned to the people around it, people hurt by its monstrosity. This bill may pass, but it won’t be the same bill it was before students and community members began organizing it. More important, those organizing, reading, writing, testifying in Annapolis, running public meetings in Baltimore, signing open letters are not the same people they were before they began organizing against it. This is a long game and we lose it if we walk through this city as though our disempowerment is a foregone conclusion.