Effective Practices for Faculty Recruitment and Retention


  1. Consider what steps you will take to ensure faculty retention. Since universities make a tremendous investment in faculty, often recruiting and hiring them at great expense, it is important to think long term from the beginning. Look at the startup packages offered—if faculty seem unaware of what is often included, do you offer a list of standard elements you usually provide? Do you expect them to negotiate and make a case for what they will need to succeed, and do you communicate these expectations? Given that faculty have highly specialized talents, ensure they don’t waste time struggling in a bad environment by making sure they know who to come to for advice before they are on campus.
  2. Enable the hiring of the best available candidates by paying attention to the application process, selection of short list, faculty visit experience and by working to minimize the impact of unconscious biases.
  3. Set a high standard in treating all faculty with respect, and promote a positive environment for everyone. If you cannot achieve this, seek guidance from within the university, schedule a site visit, or appoint faculty leadership to a chair’s advisory committee to bring about change.
  4. Communicate to everyone in the department why climate issues are important and how a welcoming, mutually supportive environment will help the department recruit and support the best students and faculty. Use current research to educate members of physics departments on issues affecting women and underrepresented minority groups in physics. These include stereotype threat, imposter syndrome, implicit bias, and harassment. These behaviors can prevent people from persisting or thriving in physics. The entire faculty and student body will play a part in determining the atmosphere in the department. Individuals need to be encouraged to take responsibility for their actions.
  5. Make sure there are written institutional policies governing tenure and promotion and that these are explicit, clear, and available to all faculty members (if not, departments should help advocate for these). If a department has its own expectations, these should also be written down and made available.
  6. Ensure that your institution has clear and reasonable policies for parental leave and has made them available to all faculty by publishing them on the institution’s website. If such policies do not exist, advocate for them. We recommend, for example, that at a minimum, a department should grant a semester leave from teaching when a faculty member has a child (including adoption/foster parenting). Consider a default “stop the clock” policy for untenured faculty (ie - the tenure clock stops when a faculty member takes parental leave unless otherwise requested).
  7. Develop good mentoring practices for all faculty. Many women and members of underrepresented groups benefit especially from formal mentoring because informal mentoring may be unavailable to them. Both male and female faculty members can mentor new female faculty, and they may need to in order not to overburden existing female faculty members.
  8. Facilitate integration of new faculty, whether junior or senior. Establish an orientation program for new faculty, and invite senior faculty who will be their colleagues. Include new faculty in group grants and local collaborations, where appropriate. Follow up on new hires, including tenured faculty. Monitor satisfaction and progress of all faculty.
  9. Create a welcoming environment for new faculty. Be aware that a woman is unlikely to feel awkward unless the other members of the department feel awkward about her. Strive for transparency in departmental governance by developing clear and written procedures for activities, by appointing a chair’s advisory committee to help understand faculty issues and to increase communication with the faculty, and by rotating faculty into leadership positions. Faculty members will do best in a well-run department where all faculty are given opportunities to contribute to the department.
  10. Include female faculty members on key departmental committees and in leadership roles, to give them a voice in the department. Such service should be rewarded appropriately. However, do not overburden female faculty members by asking them to serve on too many committees. Either pick the committees strategically, or preferably, hire more female faculty members.
  11. Be prepared for and welcome change. Different people with different backgrounds will have different styles. These different ideas will change your department for the better and make it more attractive to a diverse student body.
  12. Nominate female faculty members for fellowship in societies and other awards (e.g., fellowships in the American Physical Society, internal and external awards, Sloan Fellowships, Packard Awards, etc.).
  13. Give female faculty access to the same space, matching funds, and hiring opportunities in their efforts to grow their research programs as do the (often better politically connected) male faculty.
  14. Recognize a job well done. Reward faculty for formal and informal mentoring of faculty, postdocs and students (often disproportionately done by women in the department). Use salary increases and/or relief from teaching as a reward for those who do contribute to the betterment of the department as a whole, and hence as an incentive for others to contribute their share.

The Committee on the Status of Women welcomes comments or suggestions on how to improve these effective practice guides. Please email women@aps.org to contact us.

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