Note to my readers: What follows is the complaint I filed this morning with the head of affirmative action at a university where I had been invited to interview. I have pseudonymized the department name, the faculty member's name, and my name, but for the next week, the name of the university shall remain unaltered. I want other women to be aware of potential problems there.
DearHead of Affirmative Action,
I would like to bring to your attention discriminatory behavior by the Department of XXX during their search for a tenure-track faculty member in YYY. My purpose in writing to you is not to seek personal recourse, but so that the problem may be addressed within the department and the university prior to any future job searches.
In early December 2006, I was contacted via telephone by Dr. ZZ and offered a January interview for the faculty position. I confirmed my enthusiastic interest in the position and in interviewing, but informed Dr. ZZ that I couldn’t come to campus in January. I was pregnant with a due date of January 27th, and my doctor had forbidden travel more than an hour from my hometown within a month of the due date. Furthermore, most airlines refuse passengers during and after the 36th week of pregnancy.
I offered to interview on campus during the month of December or in February, and I volunteered to be available by telephone or videoconference at any time. Dr. ZZ told me that he would see what could be arranged, but that he was doubtful anything could be organized in December and that February would be “too late” to interview. He promised to get back to me.
By December 18th, I had not heard from Dr. ZZ, so I sent a follow-up email (appended), again expressing my interest in the position and suggesting possible arrangements other than a January interview. He responded the same day by email (appended), writing that a decision would be made when the search committee met in January and that I would be updated at that time. This was the last contact I had from ?
Based on conversation and correspondence with Dr. ZZ, I believe that I was denied an opportunity to interview for the job solely because of a short-lived and gender-based medical condition. This treatment strikes me as discriminatory and it reflects poorly on
At 04:30 PM 12/18/2006, you wrote:
Dear Dr. ZZ,
I wanted to follow up on our conversation last week, since I have not heard back
from you. I am most interested in the YYY position at
to travel during the month of January, as I am due to give birth at the end of
I want to reiterate my offer to interview on campus this month or in February
and to be available by phone at any time. I also have a streaming video
presentation of my research talk that might be helpful for giving you and your
colleagues an impression of my teaching/speaking style, if only a phone
interview can be arranged.
I understand that you are between terms right now and there are holidays
looming, but I would really appreciate an update as to your intentions for my
interview. Again, I am excited about this position and the possibility of
becoming a member of your department, and I hope that we can arrange something
so that you and your colleagues have a chance to interview me.
Mon 12/18/2006 3:53 PM
Thank you very much for following up, and I appreciate your interest in the
position. As you guessed correctly, this is winter break for us and holidays
are also just around the corner; as such, only a few colleagues may be
available to participate in an interview now. I understand your medical
condition, and I have brought this to the attention of the search committee.
I appreciate your initiative about phone interviews, but it is not clear to me
if our colleagues can meaningfully compare candidates due to the difference in
the interview procedure that a phone interview may create. I suspect is that
the Affirmative Action office on campus may not even allow this since you will
not get a fair and equal opportunity to present your strengths through a phone
interview, in comparison to other candidates who visited/will visit.
Anyhow, the search committee will meet in the second week of January, and decide
if it can wait till February when you are able to travel again, or make a
selection among the candidates interviewed by then. This is not necessarily bad
news, since it is entirely possible that the committee decides in favor of
inviting you in February. I will write to you with an update as soon as I have
Happy Holidays and best wishes,