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  1. Abstract

    Administrators and faculty at many colleges and universities are dedicated to making the faculty hiring process fair and equitable. One program that has shown promise is to train and appoint a Diversity Advocate (DA) to serve on each faculty search and screen committee. In this study, we created and examined the early stages of a DA program at a single institution. After undergoing special training, the DA works on the search committee to encourage best practices and to discourage schemas and stereotypes from interfering with the process. Our DA program differs from some in that efforts are made to train DAs who are demographically in the majority, work in the area where the search is taking place, and have earned tenure or promotion. Training those who are demographically in the majority helps meet our goal of broadening the responsibility for evidence-based and equitable hiring practices across faculty members. While reliable data on hiring outcomes is not yet available, we developed a survey to evaluate the DA training and conducted focus groups to understand the DA experience better. Our results highlight how DAs intervened in the search process to make it more equitable. The interventions included encouraging the use of best practices, such as leading the committee in creating a rubric for evaluating candidates and intervening when bias was present. Our study provides evidence that a DA program is one way to expand the pool of faculty committed to inclusive excellence.

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  2. Pathways to the professoriate for women in computer science are narrow and fraught with barriers. These obstacles are further exacerbated at the intersections of race and gender. Black women (who make up 6.4% of the U.S. population) comprise only 1.1% of computer science undergraduate degrees and < 1% of computer science PhDs. Despite these paltry numbers, one computer science PhD program may have found the combination of factors necessary to widen the pathway by engaging in strategic recruitment, developing communities of practice, and providing strong mentorship for women of color in computer science. Guided primarily by intersectionality theory, social identity theory, and landscapes of practice, this single case study explored the experiences of Black women in pursuit of their doctorate in computer science at a predominantly white institution to answer the research questions: (1) How do Black women graduate students in computer science describe their computer science identity? (2) How do landscapes of practice influence computer science identity formation or salience of Black women in a computer science graduate program? Thematic analysis of this case revealed three common themes within their experiences: moments of impact, boundary spanning, and community residence. These themes, all of which revolve around ideas of community and support, are critical to understanding a key discovery of this study: why a sense of belonging, rather than identity salience (as much research suggests), was the best indicator of the women’s persistence. 
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