Identifying and Responding to Bias in Promotion and Tenure Decisions

Sep 3, 2022

Cognitive biases—the “mental shortcuts” we all use to help make quick decisions—are different from overt prejudice, but can still be detrimental to members of underrepresented groups. In the promotion and tenure process, these subtle preferences (like a tendency to feel more positively about someone similar to oneself; or a preference for established forms of disciplinary research) can impact BIPOC faculty’s time to tenure and promotion, and ultimately their engagement and retention at universities. In this EAB-facilitated simulation activity, promotion and tenure committees can practice recognizing these biases in a low-stakes setting. Committee members evaluate a fictional case study of a professor going up for tenure, discuss the biases that can influence tenure decisions, and learn what research tells us about the role of biases in BIPOC and underrepresented-minority (URM) faculty retention. This event will be hosted by Jennifer Latino, Angela Street, and Jarrell Anderson at EAB on October 6th, from 10 am to 12 pm.


How it Works:

  • EAB provides a brief overview of common sources of bias and how they impact BIPOC faculty career advancement
  • Attendees participate in a one-hour EAB-facilitated simulation activity to practice identifying and responding to biases
  • All participants receive a cognitive bias reference sheet and annotated bibliography to take home after the session


Identifying and Responding to Bias in Promotion and Tenure Decisions

  • Learn about the subtle cognitive biases that influence human decision-making and can impact BIPOC faculty’s time to tenure and career advancement
  • Participate in an EAB-facilitated simulation activity where promotion and tenure committee members practice evaluating a fictional case study and identifying the role of biases in tenure decisions
  • Identify next steps to mitigate the impact of common cognitive biases and clarify the promotion and tenure process at your institution


Recommended audiences for EAB Promotion and Tenure Simulation Workshop:

  • Promotion and tenure committee members.
  • Other individuals involved in faculty evaluation (e.g., annual reviewers)
  • Provost or chief academic officer


Ways to bring this research to your institution

  • 90-minute session, which includes a mix of didactic content and a facilitated simulated exercise
  • Virtual or in-person modality
  • Annotated bibliography of published research on bias in promotion and tenure

Related Resources

Instilling Equity and Inclusion in Departmental Practices

Diagnose Faculty Racial Inequality with these 8 Critical Metrics

Compendium of Inclusive Tenure and Promotion Policy


Click here to read the full EAB Workshop document

VPFA E-Newsletters