Julie Seaman

A how-to workshop on recruiting new faculty

When associate law professor Julie Seaman has her students take the implicit-association test (IAT), they often are surprised by the findings. "The IAT shows you what your associations are," she says. "No matter how much we don't want to have them, that's the way our brains work. We categorize. None of us can grow up in a culture without forming an association."

Seaman includes herself in that universal group despite her familiarity with hundreds of the latest research studies on implicit associations -- what some might call biases. Although association and bias mean the same thing in the scholarly literature, Seaman knows that in lay terms, even the word "bias" may carry a negative connotation.

She also knows that research reveals that something can be done about those built-in associations of race, gender, and class. Consider, for example, the composition of symphony orchestras in the mid-20th century when most of the musicians were predominantly male. By contrast, today's concertgoer is more likely to see as many female players as male ones, a shift that resulted when orchestras began holding blind auditions for players.

This September, Seaman and colleagues in neuroscience and psychology are offering a workshop series to explore how this research can guide Emory in best practices for faculty recruitment. The series is a tool to empower the Emory community to reach strategic goals of strengthening faculty distinction with its emphasis on recruitment and retention. Seaman herself has served on two faculty searches at the university as well as on the appointments committee in the law school for two years. To the workshops, she brings those experiences along with grounding in the latest research on how implicit associations may impact decision-making.

Workshop leaders will offer nuts-and-bolts advice on how to serve effectively on search committees. They will guide faculty through a process of setting up specific search criteria in advance and help them become aware of typical stereotypes that people may assume about "ideal" candidates. And they will lead discussions on how Emory can become a leader in inclusive and diverse faculty recruitment.

All search chairs and search committee members are expected at the workshops, held September 8 and September 16 in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library. The sessions are open to all interested faculty. Register: Sept. 8 session | Sept. 16 session