Absence of conflict of interest.
The study's objective was to examine the impact of the Gender Equity and Recruitment of Underrepresented People (GEAR UP) workshop on employment.
The study used an interrupted time series design to assess faculty composition and hiring before and after the GEAR UP workshop was offered. The authors used institutional data to examine changes in faculty hires and composition by role, rank, and gender, before and after GEAR UP was offered.
The study found a relationship between GEAR UP and increased employment for women in STEM. However, the study did not include tests of statistical significance.
This study receives a low evidence rating. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to GEAR UP; other factors are likely to have contributed.
Gender Equity and Recruitment of Underrepresented People (GEAR UP)
Features of the Intervention
In 2012, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was awarded a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation award and used this award to fund initiatives aimed at increasing representation of female faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Members of the faculty at UNH met weekly between May and August 2013 to design one of these programs: Gender Equity and Recruitment of Underrepresented People (GEAR UP). GEAR UP was a workshop that aimed to use interactive theater to reduce implicit hiring bias and improve the faculty search process.
GEAR UP was offered to all faculty at UNH seven times between December 2013 and October 2016. During this time, 275 staff and faculty at UNH attended the workshop. The workshop included a play with five scenes following an academic search committee through the hiring process. These characters varied in their interest in progressive change and the play featured some challenging interpersonal dynamics. Several times throughout the play, situations of implicit bias were shown (e.g., calling women applicants by their first name but calling male applicants by their last name with the title of "Dr."). After the play, a moderator led a discussion session and encouraged the participants to identify problem areas they saw in the scenes. The actors engaged in this discussion and performed audience members' suggestions for handling the different problem areas.
Features of the Study
The study is an interrupted time series assessing faculty composition and faculty hiring before and after the GEAR UP program. The study compared STEM and non-STEM faculty hires (those in the Social and Behavioral Sciences; SBS) and composition across roles and by gender before GEAR UP began (2011-2012) and after GEAR UP ended (2016-2017). Using institutional faculty hiring and composition data from before and after the GEAR UP workshops were offered, the authors conducted statistical models to explore changes in the number and percentages of faculty hires and compositions across role and by gender. However, the authors did not provide tests of statistical significance.
The study found that the overall percentage of female faculty at UNH increased from 37 percent to 42 percent and there was an increase for both STEM (21 percent to 26 percent) and SBS (36 percent to 44 percent).
The study found there was an increase in the percentage of female STEM full professors (24 percent to 33 percent) and a decrease in the percentage of male STEM full professors (59 percent to 53 percent). However, the study found that there was a decrease in the percentage of female SBS full professors (31 percent to 22 percent), while the percentage of male SBS full professors increased (40 percent to 43 percent).
The study found that the percentage of female full professors increased (21 percent to 25 percent), as well as the percentage of female assistant professors (40 percent to 78 percent).
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors compared the outcomes before and after the implementation of the GEAR UP program. For these types of designs, the authors must observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention to rule out the possibility of increasing or decreasing trends in the outcomes examined before the program. That is, if the university’s employment rates of women were increasing, we would anticipate further increases over time, even if they did not implement the program. Without knowing the trends before program implementation, we cannot rule out this possibility. Therefore, the study receives a low causal evidence rating.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to GEAR UP; other factors are likely to have contributed.