Understanding When Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Work "Counts" in Faculty Evaluation
Effective Years: 2021-2024
This study aims to increase diversity in STEM academic workplaces by testing “nudge” interventions to help diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work matter in promotion and tenure decision-making. Nudges refer to deliberate changes to the decision-making context aimed at guiding people toward a particular behavior, which in this case is valuing DEI work. Many institutions have tried to reform the tenure process to reward DEI work, but there is little concrete evidence that any of these initiatives have shaped tenure decisions. Despite widespread use in organizations and education, nudge science has rarely been applied to faculty evaluation decisions. The study will use an experimental vignette methodology (EVM) in which faculty participants will make an explicit decision about a fictional applicant. Faculty participants will be recruited from biology (specifically ecology and evolutionary biology) and engineering. Knowledge from the project’s findings will provide useful information to university leaders seeking to reform promotion and tenure to value DEI work.
Many faculty members, including a disproportionate number of Black, Brown, and women faculty, engage in DEI work, but consistently report that when it comes to tenure and promotion, they are not sure whether and how their DEI work counted in decisions made. This work will examine whether three different “nudge” interventions (a) providing an equity charge encouraging participants to value DEI work, (b) having the tenure candidate emphasize their DEI efforts in separated sections of their CV and personal statement, and (c) having participants use a rubric in which DEI is one of the criteria listed, are more influential than the others in shaping tenure decisions. An experimental vignette methodology (EVM) will be used in which faculty participants will make an explicit decision about a fictional applicant. Faculty participants will be recruited from biology (specifically ecology and evolutionary biology) and engineering. Participants will be randomly assigned a dossier that includes the evaluation criteria, a curriculum vitae, and a personal statement. The main outcome variable is the recommendation from the participant regarding faculty tenure. This study is the first to use an experimental design to test faculty weighting of DEI in tenure decisions in a STEM field. This project will advance knowledge about which kinds of nudges are more likely to work within faculty evaluation settings, and whether interventions have a different impact depending on the perceived identities of the candidates.
This project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.