Writing an Effective Diversity Statement
The resources below were designed by the University of California system to support efforts to write and analyze diversity statements in a faculty search process. Diversity statements typically do one or more of the following: 1) give examples of a candidate’s past contributions to diversity, 2) demonstrate an understanding of the particular diversity and equity related issues and needs in a candidate’s field, or in higher education more generally, and/or 3) discuss the candidate’s vision for how they might make contributions to diversity in the future.
If a candidate has not yet made substantial past contributions, we recommend focusing on demonstrating an understanding of issues and/or future vision. In terms of the latter, a good first step is to gather information on activities—on campus or beyond— they would like to pursue while at Brandeis, and then to describe how and in what ways they might participate in these. Please reference our Rubric for Evaluating Diversity Statements and Example DEI Interview Questions webpages for additional insights.
Examples of what might be includedThe University of California system has created the following examples of what “contributions to diversity” might mean for applicants preparing diversity statements. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather is intended to illustrate how wide-ranging these contributions might be.
1. Context and broader understanding
Prior to discussing one’s particular contribution to diversity, or future vision, it can be helpful for candidates to provide some context, and ‘state the problem’ these contributions aim to address. Thus we encourage candidates to use the opening of their statement to demonstrate an understanding of the broader issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their own field, and/or in higher education more broadly. This could include, for instance, discussing the particular barriers facing women, under-represented groups, and first generation college students in their field.
Such context can be particularly helpful if the candidate will be describing work with numbers of people from particular demographic groups. Such numbers are most meaningful after establishing the degree to which these groups are underrepresented in a given field, and/or their degree of underrepresentation at particular levels or ranks (graduate student, assistant professor, etc.)
2. Service-related contributionsCandidates might engage in multiple types of service to increase participation in higher education by historically under-represented groups and/or first generation college students. For instance:
- K-12 outreach to demographic groups that are underrepresented in a candidate’s field or higher education more broadly.
- Serving as an advisor to programs such as Women in Science and Engineering, SACNAS or other equivalent programs in all disciplines;
- Exceptional record mentoring students and junior faculty from groups underrepresented in a candidate’s field or in higher education
- Efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within departments, divisions, or professional societies
3. Teaching-related contributionsCandidates might engage in a range of teaching activities that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom and on campus. This may include:
- Significant experience teaching and mentoring students who are first generation college students and/or under-represented in higher education; for example:
- teaching at a minority serving institution;
- record of success advising women and minority graduate students;
- experience teaching students with disabilities
- Developing curriculum, teaching tools, course content, and/or pedagogy focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. For example:
- designing courses or curricula to address diverse learning styles
- developing effective teaching strategies for groups underrepresented in higher education or that meet the needs of educationally disadvantaged students
- bringing diverse voices into your curriculum and the “cannon” in your field
4. Research-related contributionsCandidates might conduct theoretical or applied research that addresses questions of equity, diversity, and/or inclusion. This may include:
- Research specifically on the barriers facing women and underrepresented groups in science and other academic disciplines; for example:
- studying patterns of participation and advancement of women and minorities in fields where they are underrepresented;
- studying socio-cultural issues confronting underrepresented students in college preparation curricula;
- evaluating programs, curricula and teaching strategies designed to enhance participation of underrepresented students in higher education;
- Applied or theoretical research that contributes to broader understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example:
- research that engages or challenges categories of race, class, and gender
- research that addresses health disparities, educational access and achievement, political engagement, economic justice, social mobility, civil and human rights;
- artistic expression and cultural production that reflects culturally diverse communities or voices not well represented in the arts and humanities;
- Collaboration with researchers who are underrepresented in one’s field as a means of bringing in new perspectives and epistemologies
5. Other contributions: outside experience and competencies
Candidates may have life and educational experience, outside work experience, and/or cultural competencies and communication skills that can contribute to broader diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. For example, a candidate may have or display:
Understanding of the barriers facing women, under-represented groups, and first generation college students in higher education, as evidenced by life experiences and educational background
Drive and motivation to persist and succeed in their careers in spite of barriers in higher education that were directly experienced;
Creative and critical skills that come from a non-traditional educational background
Communication skills and cross-cultural abilities to maximize effective collaboration with a diverse community of campus and external colleagues;
Candidates may have participated as students, postdocs or faculty in academic preparation, trainings, or other programs designed to remove barriers facing women, veterans, people with disabilities, first generation students, etc., and thus have first-hand knowledge of the challenges for groups who are particularly underrepresented in a candidate’s field on in higher education.