- A person's sexual preference, gender identity, or disability status is often invisible to others, leading to the dilemma of how or when to reveal oneself.
Photo by Carol Ormand.
In all of these situations, one common consideration is whether, or more often when and how, to reveal your situation to prospective employers. The resources below will help you to figure out what your options are, so that you can choose the course of action that best suits your needs.
- The Academic Job Search Handbook, by Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miller Vick, includes a chapter of advice for anyone whose job search may be atypical: people with interdisciplinary degrees, members of dual career couples, foreign nationals, and others. The list of suggestions at the end of the chapter may be particularly useful.
- MentorNet homepage: (more info) "MentorNet is the award-winning nonprofit e-mentoring network that addresses the retention and success of those in engineering, science and mathematics, particularly but not exclusively women and other underrepresented groups." Graduate students and untenured faculty members are eligible for one-on-one email-based mentoring by tenured faculty.
GLBT job applicantsGay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals make choices about whether and how to come out, over and over again, throughout their lives. The job search provides additional opportunities to consider these questions. On the one hand, you don't want to make an "issue" of something that isn't. On the other hand, you want to be yourself, all the time. On the third hand, you want to receive fair and equal consideration from the search committee. On the fourth hand, you probably want to work with colleagues who are comfortable with you and respect you as a person.
- The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals is a national organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people (and their advocates) employed or interested in scientific or high technology fields. NOGLSTP's goals include educating the scientific and general communities about LGBT issues in science and the technical workplace; educating the queer community about relevant topics in science; dialogue with professional societies and associations; improving members' employment and professional environment; opposing queer phobia and stereotypes by providing role models of successful LGBT scientific and technical professionals; and fostering networking and mentoring among members.
Articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education
- Two Men and a Teenager: Career Considerations of a Same-sex Couple: Doug Risner describes his academic job search, and the personal considerations complicating it – what the social climate would be like for him and his partner, what it would be like for their daughter, whether he and his partner would be willing to accept a long-distance relationship.
- The Ins and Outs of Academic Searches: Doug Risner describes what went wrong (and what went right) when he did not explicitly tell a potential employer that he is gay, thinking his dissertation title and publishing record made it sufficiently clear.
- Gay, Christian, and Conservative: Graham Bennett and Jason Lindsey are a gay couple looking for jobs together. In their own words, "We try to avoid fretting over the worrisome fact that the institutions most likely to accommodate same-sex couples are often of an extremely liberal bent, where conservatives like us might find it difficult to fit in. We would feel perfectly at home in a more conservative, even a religious, institution – the sorts of places that would never court a same-sex couple."
Tips from Early Career Geoscience Faculty Workshop Alums
- There are no easy answers here, and it will be different for different people depending on how comfortable they are with their sexuality. At most institutions, there will be a healthy amount of GLBT faculty and staff, even in places you may not expect. Thus, I would apply for positions in any location you are willing to work without this in mind initially. I personally have kept my sexuality somewhat private, typically only sharing it with close friends and colleagues I develop trust in over time. I do not think it is a good idea to come out from the beginning in the application and interview process unless it is something that is very important to you (which again will change depending on the person). Having said this, I would do your homework on the area if you get an interview and try to talk to 1-2 faculty members you meet during the interview process and think can trust about whether they think that will be an issue or not there. Picking a faculty member you can trust is difficult unless someone is clearly GLBTA-friendly, but for gay people it is probably least intimidating if it is a member of the opposite sex. I did let one person know during my interview process which allowed me to ask a few more difficult questions, and the responses I got ware very helpful and allowed me to feel much more comfortable about the situation. Most likely, it will not be a problem but it is a good thing to find out before accepting a job. If it is important to you and you sense asking about it would be a problem, then that should tell you all you need to know.
Applicants with disabilitiesIf you have a disability, you are protected from discrimination by law (see A Guide to Disability Rights Laws, (more info) by the U.S. Department of Justice). But prejudice still exists. Like any other job applicant, you want to receive fair and equal consideration from the search committee. And, just like other applicants, you probably want to work with colleagues who are comfortable with you and respect you as a person.
- Job-Hunting for the So-Called Handicapped, or People Who Have Disabilities, by Richard Bolles and Dale Susan Brown. Every job hunter faces the challenge of convincing an employer that he or she is the right person for the job. People with disabilities may need to overcome additional concerns about their abilities to do the job well, without costing the employer money (for accommodations, insurance, etc.). The authors discuss how you, as a person with a disability, can proactively address and overcome a potential employer's fears.
Tips from Early Career Geoscience Faculty Workshop Alums
- Identify what you need and determine how to get it. When attending a conference, giving a visiting seminar, or going on a job interview, contact a pragmatic coordinator very early in the process. Once you've established your professional role, have a phone conversation or email stating what you need. Don't apologize or over-explain. Be matter-of-fact. Extra bathroom trips, taking medication, napping, breast-pumping, diet restrictions, all kinds of things. I've put myself through unnecessary difficulty by not knowing what steps would help me, or not knowing who to ask, or just being too stubborn to admit that I need to deal with a health issue. Often we don't want to publicize our situation. Find a pragmatic person with the power to help and keep issues confidential.