What You Can Do to Support Women Faculty and Faculty of Color

“Sometimes we need to reach around the words in order to balance our humanity with our individual freedoms.  We also need to recognize that there is power in our words and how we choose to use them…What you say matters. The question becomes, are you willing to improve your impact on others?” – Maura Cullen, PhD


  1. Do not leave it to women and faculty of color to do the work of increasing diversity and improving workplace climate. Be proactive, rather than reactive, in your department and institution. Advocate and speak out about incidents that promote an uncivil workplace climate. If you observe someone doing or saying something sexist or racist, tell them that it is not okay.

  2. Use an appropriate title when introducing a female colleague or faculty of color.  Instead of a first name or “Miss,” “Mrs.,” or “Mr.,” use “Dr.” or “Professor.”  For further discussion, see this article.

  3. Research shows that we all – men and women, regardless of race/ethnicity – have implicit/unintentional bias. Know your own bias and work to reduce it.  You can take an implicit bias test here.

  4. Avoid telling women and faculty of color that they don’t look like a scientist, professor, or academic, that they look too young, or that they should smile more. Similarly, avoid commenting on a female colleague’s appearance.

  5. You may not realize that you are doing it, but if you find yourself interrupting women, or speaking over them, stop. Similarly, if you notice a point made by a female colleague in a faculty meeting is being ignored or attributed to a male colleague, point that out. Try to foster an environment where all voices are heard and respected.  Read about recent research on interrupting women here.

  6. Work to ensure that your department seminars, conference symposia, search committees, and panel discussions have a good gender balance. It’s important as well to consider other dimensions of identity such as race/ethnicity, age, citizenship, sexual orientation or religion to diversify your academic groups. If someone you’ve invited turns you down, ask them for recommendations for an alternative; don’t give up. Recognize that there are underrepresented groups in your field and they may be disproportionately burdened with invitations to serve on committees or give talks.

  7. Pay attention to who organizes the celebrations, gift-giving, and holiday gatherings and who is the note-taker, coffee server, or lunch order-taker in your lab or department. Women are socialized to volunteer. Make sure that women and faculty of color are not disproportionately asked to tend to these “housekeeping” tasks.

  8. At times when it is warranted (e.g. when you are a moderator), be sure to call on women and faculty of color a proportionate amount of time.

  9. Understand that many women faculty, even those in egalitarian households, take on a disproportionate share of the housework and childcare duties at home.

  10. At times when it is warranted (e.g. when you are a moderator), be sure to call on women and faculty of color a proportionate amount of time.

  11. Learn about benevolent sexism. Guard against it and call it out.

  12. Learn about mansplaining. Guard against it and call it out.

  13. Learn about the tone argument. Do not dismiss your female colleagues as angry, emotional, or otherwise not deserving of respect because they are not adopting what you think is the appropriate tone.

  14. Apologize when someone has called you out for inappropriate behavior.

  15. Pay attention to the example you set for your students. Adopt teaching tools and practices that promote gender equity and diversity. The TAMU Center for Teaching Excellence offers the following workshops throughout the year to assist with this:
    • Managing Hot Topics in the Classroom
    • Universal Course Design
    • Working with Students with Disabilities in the Classroom
    • Teaching Inclusively: Considerations for our Increasingly Diverse Classrooms
    • Diversity and Global Learning

  16. Pay attention to whom you invite to informal work-related gatherings. If you are often going out with members of your lab or department for drinks, make an effort to include women and faculty of color. Women and faculty of color often miss out on research opportunities or the sharing of ideas that happen in informal settings.

  17. Make sure you are aware of the gender biases in scientific journal editorial practices. Do not assume that the gender distribution of editors of the top journals in your field reflects the gender composition of authors in the field. If you are an editor, work to ensure a balance in the gender ratio of the editorial board and among your reviewers. If there is a call for editors, nominate qualified women. If you are on the screening committee for editor nominations, do not be satisfied if there are no women in the pool.

  18. Nominate excellent women and faculty of color for research awards at all levels (department, college, university, and national). Research shows that women are disproportionately nominated for and receive teaching and service awards rather than research awards.

  19. “But this happens to men [or Caucasians], too!” rarely keeps a conversation going. (Read more about this here.) Remember that underrepresented individuals have a long history of engaging systemic bias that often times inhibits their progress; their experiences should not be dismissed or belittled.

  20. Remember your efforts may go unacknowledged or even unrecognized much of the time. Keep at it anyway knowing that you are an advocate and an ally in order to create a positive workplace climate for all.

    Adapted from “https://tenureshewrote.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/dont-be-that-dude-handy-tips-for-the-male-academic/