Faculty & Staff News

UH study looks at hiring behaviors for women, minorities in recruitment processes

Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

A recent research study by a team of UH professors and Ph.D. students found that women and underrepresented minorities are more likely to be hired when they’re represented in the recruiting process.

Some educational and work spaces are increasingly working on effective ways to increase and foster diversity, inclusion and the feeling of equality in their spaces. 

The study’s overarching goal was to use the homophily theory, or the idea that people gravitate towards those who are similar to them, to explain how recruiters’ demographic composition can contribute to more diverse applicant pools.

Using recruitment data within an academic context the researchers found, when the search committee chair is a woman or URM, a higher number of applications from women and URM are received.

Likewise, greater proportions of women and URM on the search committee relate with more women and URM applicants.

“Men refuse to see the potential in anyone they find inferior to themselves,” said biology junior Tasmiya Farooque. “They fail to see a woman working in a workspace like theirs because they find her fragile or timid. They fail to see URM individuals as ones who are more educated and like minded than them, it’s age old stereotyping and discrimination.”

This study, led by researchers at the UH’s Center for ADVANCING Faculty Success, found that when the search committee chair for a job is a woman, 23 percent more women apply for the job than when the search committee is led by a man. 

The study also shows how women and URM recruiters use different recruitment strategies than men which is beneficial and leads to more diversified hiring.

“There are a lot of research studies that examine one piece of a huge puzzle,” said professor and researcher Juan Madera. “Ours is a piece about how those in charge of hiring are important gatekeepers. Having underrepresented minorities and women in charge of hiring and on the hiring committee led to more underrepresented minorities and women applying.” 

UH ADVANCE, headed by President Renu Khator, was awarded a $3.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, and is one of the UH initiatives that looks to further the advancement of URMs.

The grant works to increase the number of women and women-of-color faculty members in STEM and SBS fields, as well as ensure they have opportunities to move into leadership roles. 

“Change brings anxiety and uncertainty,” said psychology professor Herb Agan. “But when change comes in place, so does transformation. Acting on the apprehension when hiring someone they are unfamiliar with, acting despite the uncertainty is the step towards transformation.”

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