Guest post: A very obvious funnel

Originally a comment on Toby tell us again.

During my first degree in computer science (not at Oxford, at Teesside of all places) in the early 90s there were four women out of about 300 students. There were eight people who were not white. During later degrees at Newcastle and Leeds and having worked in those universities for decades, I didn’t see as much improvement as I’d hoped.

There were women and people of colour in top faculty positions, for sure. But there was also a very obvious funnel: women and people of colour didn’t seem to rise through the ranks as easily as white dudes did. Women of colour in particular seemed to find it difficult to find employment in their department once they’d completed their PhDs regardless of the quality of their work.

I served on hiring committees for at least 50 people at Newcastle and Leeds, supervised a dozen PhDs and acted as a consultant in hiring at some other universities. White men were hired overwhelmingly, even over and above outstanding candidates we had already worked with for several years.

I spoke about this a *lot* within those faculties but nobody really believed there was a problem. They figured that since they were academics they were immune to prejudice.

I worked with so many amazing people who didn’t really stand much chance of getting jobs even though they had done great work, written several journal papers while they were students and knew how to get the business of science done better and more efficiently than fossils like me.

It is the main reason I left academia. In my experience it doesn’t realise it has a problem. I rose through the ranks more easily than people who worked harder than me, were smarter than me and who wrote more and better papers than I did. White dude coming through.

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