Declaration action point: Ensure balanced committee representation

Posted on 23/06/2022

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Ensure balanced committee representation to minimize biased gatekeeping

We are all biased. What can we do? The ALBA Declaration on Equity & Inclusion advises to implement unbiased selection, hiring, and assessment, by ensuring balanced committee representation to minimize biased gatekeeping. This article provides useful tips & resources on best practices about soliciting diverse applications.

Issues

Gatekeepers for academic progress effectively make the key decisions and determine who is successful, whether for grants, appointments, promotions or publications. For example, the primary “currency” of academia is publication of research results in peer-reviewed journals whose gatekeepers are the editors. Editors tend to be primarily dominant elites, who  demonstrate substantial same-gender or same-skin color preferences in peer-review. Women (and minorities) are underrepresented in numbers of submissions to journals, serving as peer-reviewers, and appointments as editors. Similar issues exist for other academic gatekeepers.

Suggested actions

  • Review your institution’s records for women and other underrepresented groups in gatekeeper roles and passing through the various “academic gates” (see Fig.1).
  • Include women and minorities on all positions involving decision-making.
  • Engage with gatekeepers up and down the hierarchy to discuss assumptions about the degree that meritocracy can exist in biased organizations.

Resources

Data on bias in gatekeepers:

Examples of best practices: