Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Should Law Schools Try To ‘De-Bias’ Faculty Recruiting By Eliminating CVs, Interviews?

Inside Higher Ed, Trying to ‘De-Bias’ Faculty Recruiting:

CVs and interviews are being removed from university hiring processes under a new approach to “de-bias” academic recruitment being pioneered in Britain.

The Recruiting for Difference approach, billed as an attempt to address biases around gender, ethnicity and university background, is led by the recruitment firm Diversity by Design, co-founded by the writer and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe, former chair of council at the University of Sussex.

Fanshawe, a founder of the LGBT equality charity Stonewall, said the aim was to “de-bias” to the greatest extent possible, explaining that, under this approach, “what you don’t use in the short-listing process at all is CVs.” He argued that stripping out CVs allowed universities to see the true qualities of the people they were considering for jobs.

The application process allows applicants to state which journals they have published in and the roles they played in these papers. But candidates’ names do not figure in the short-listing process -- thus their gender and ethnicity are not revealed -- and at no stage of the hiring process is it disclosed at which universities candidates have worked or studied.

Fanshawe asked, “Why do [those hiring] want to know what university [applicants] went to?” One explanation is that those doing the hiring “are simply biased and … think if people went to Cambridge, they are better,” he added. “Well, that’s not a good reason for knowing which university they went to, because it may not be true.” ...

While there are “tons of initiatives” on diversity in higher education, these are not tackling “one of the big roots of the problem -- which is the … level of supposition, or bias, or preference, or whatever you want to call it, which is built into the way in which … academics … are recruited,” he said. ...

Fanshawe — whose firm is currently working with Newcastle University to recruit an engineering materials professor — cited the research of Iris Bohnet, the Harvard University behavioral economist, as a key influence on the approach. Her research showed that diversity training and work to address unconscious bias “doesn’t do it,” Fanshawe said. “We can’t train ourselves out of these habits. We have to design the processes to enable us to make better decisions.”

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No CV, no interview? What are you supposed to use? Darts/Dice?

Posted by: Anon | Feb 5, 2019 8:31:05 AM

Eliminating CVs can't hurt. Make hiring more like symphony auditions: blind to prevent bias. I flushed out the background behind this movement in the UK a bit in the IHE comments: "Oxbridge is the springboard into public life. It’s the means by which a privately educated elite consolidates its stranglehold on power, wealth, the City and the professions – and pretty much everything else: 82% of barristers went to Oxford or Cambridge, as did 78% of judges, 53% of top solicitors, and 45% of leading journalists, according to the Sutton Trust." See also "Entry to Elite Positions and the Stratification of Higher Education in Britain." The whole premise behind hiding CVs in Britain is to break this monopoly that a teeny segment has on the nation's best job; a segment that could be quickly described as "landed upper-class gentry, Eton, Oxbridge."

Similarly, we know that law professoring, like investment banking, management consulting, K Street, law firms, etc. hold to a very similar mold: upper-middle class or higher upbringing, probably private school education, followed by a brace of HYPS degrees. And without meaning to send such people hiding in a safe space, but that is not meritocracy; it's the perpetuation of social capital over social mobility. See the work of Kellogg professor Lauren Rivera, among others.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 5, 2019 9:36:08 AM

American universities don't want to de-bias anything. If they did, they might end up hiring and admitting too many Asians and white males.

Posted by: Dave H | Feb 5, 2019 2:05:20 PM

If they did, they might end up hiring and admitting too many Asians and white males.

They might stumble into hiring deplorables too. Must remember that 95% of the faculty in sociology, anthropology, and American history vote left because that's just what 'well-informed' people do.

Posted by: Art Deco | Feb 6, 2019 12:52:51 PM

Hiring people blind except for what they choose to disclose. What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: Jim Henshaw | Feb 9, 2019 12:15:58 PM

The ironic thing about this proposal is that it appears to be targeted at preventing bias against women and GLTBQA+ individuals, but every experience I have had in academia in the U.S. has been that such individuals receive preferences for hiring and so removing such attributes would actually result in fewer hirings of these individuals, not more. For example, for my first academic job, I (the caucasian male) was the second individual selected because the other "highly qualified" applicant was a female and so "of course we had to offer it to her first" (these are direct quotes from the chair who hired me, not speculation). She declined the position because she got another (apparently better) offer so the position fell to me and the department was stuck with a lowly male. If the process had been blind it seems I may likely have gotten the first offer.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 12, 2019 1:07:46 PM