Recommendation Letters of Faculty Candidates for Positions in
Recommendation Letters of Faculty Candidates for Positions in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UA Vicki Wysocki ([email protected]) Department of Chemistry Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Toni Schmader Department of Psychology Inspired by published study Exploring the color of glass: letters of recommendation for female and male
medical faculty FRANCES TRIX AND CAROLYN PSENKA WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY Discourse and Society, 2004, Vol 14(2): 191220 Reason for concern? Chemical & Engineering News, 2005, 44, 3839. (% Female Fac in Chemistry) 2000 2005 All Ranks 10% 13%
Full 6 9 Associate 21 21 Assistant 18
21 UA Faculty Search 2003-2004 Applicants Chem Men: Women: Percentage Women Biochem
236 165 71 46 25 21 19% 15%
30% Wysocki Research Group Nationally (Chemistry) Women Ph.D. 33% M.S. 46% Methods
Letters transcribed and analyzed with LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry Word Count) to count the number of standard word categories. Counts for each applicant were averaged within category and across letter writers to create aggregate variables. Categories with very low frequencies were not included. Categories Examined # of letters Word count Achievement words (e.g., try, goal, win)
Communication words (e.g,, talk, share) Positive feelings (e.g., happy, joy) Negative emotions (e.g., hate, worthless) Tentative words (e.g., maybe, perhaps) Certainty words (e.g., always, never) Additional Categories Grindstone traits hardworking, motivated, effort Ability traits smart,
Standout adjectives best, talented, able superior, excellent Research terms experiment,
funding, studies Teaching terms teaching, mentor, educate Differences in Qualifications? No # of publications # of presentations # of fellowships Yrs in Ph.D. # of postdocs Yrs in postdocs Yrs since PhD US News Rank* NSF Rank* Gender differences in # and language?
# of letters Length of letters Achievement Communication Positive feelings Negative feelings Tentative words Certainty words Chem Yes (3.3/3.8) No No No No No
No No Biochem No No No No No No No No How do linguistic categories created correlate with one another?
more standout words (best, superior, excellent) significantly more ability words significantly fewer grindstone words more language about teaching less language about research more tentative language (maybe, perhaps) How do linguistic categories created correlate with one another? Among Women: If more grindstone words (hardworking, effort) marginally less language about research
If more ability words (smart, talented) less language about teaching How are qualification variables related to being interviewed or offered a position? None of the qualification variables correlate with being invited or offered a job except... those who received invitations tended to be
out of grad school for fewer years among men, those who are given job offers have significantly more fellowships How are linguistic variables related to the applicants status? those with longer letters of recommendation are more likely to be invited for an interview Additional Categories showed difference Grindstone traits hardworking, motivated, effort
Ability traits smart, Standout adjectives best, talented, able superior, excellent Research terms experiment,
funding, studies Teaching terms teaching, mentor, educate Were there gender differences in how letter writers described candidates? Chem Grindstone traits No Ability traits No Standout adj. Yes
Research terms No Teaching terms No (excellent, superior, best) Biochem No No No No No Women less likely to be interviewed? NO if they applied consider statistics of small number of applicants
consider that women in department questioned why women werent on the interview schedule Conclusions Search committees should be aware that letters may have differences (male vs female candidates) in spite of similar qualifications The Greatest Threat to the Mathematical and Physical Sciences The Face of American Science Henry Blount, NSF Is Not the Face of
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