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Faculty Fit is Vague and Potentially Detrimental to Diversity Efforts


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Faculty search committees often pick candidates based on their supposed fit. But rather than a defined metric, fit is a highly subjective concept that opens the door to racial and other biases, according to "The Facade of Fit in Faculty Search Processes," published in The Journal of Higher Education.

The study confirms what many already believe or suspect about academic hiring: that it typically privileges perceived research impact over all else and that it runs on what's been called cloning bias, or homophily.

The paper doesn't vilify the concept of fit altogether. Instead, it advocates standardizing fit, such as through the use of jointly designed rubrics, to uncover and calibrate search committee members' preferences and to promote diversity.

"Both as coded language and an overall model of candidate evaluation, [fit] is poorly suited to justify academic hiring decisions,"  says author Damani K. White-Lewis, a postdoctoral scholar in counseling, higher education, and special education at the University of Maryland at College Park.

From Insider Higher Ed
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