Recruit and retain

Jul 07 2012 Published by under lab management, queer

One of the things that I struggle with as a new PI is recruiting the right people into my lab. I have been very lucky to get some excellent students, but it can be harder for new Asst. Prof.'s to get good postdocs. Recruiting and managing people is one of the biggest part of this job, IME. And it is scary! What if you recruit the wrong people? Yesterday on twitter, @drew_lab, who just opened last week (CONGRATS!) posed an important question:

I want to set up a lab that is both supportive of, and welcoming for, all kinds of diversity. Anyone have tips on how to recruit and retain?

I think that there is no doubt the Drew Lab is going to be an awesome place to work. Lab diversity is something that I have thought about quite a bit. I would love to hear what kind of tips you have to offer for the Drew Lab and me! I was specifically asked by the leader of the Drew Lab, @labroides, if it was OK for a straight man to put a rainbow sticker on his laptop* to show he was supportive of queer folk. In our conversation he even said he was not interested in a "straight but not narrow" version,

"I feel like it's saying I support gay rights, but please don't think of me as gay. As if that would be a bad thing."

I totally agree. All I can say is HOORAY for allies and increased visibility. RAINBOW STICKERS FOR EVERYONE!

Please, if you have other tips that can shape lab culture to be welcoming of diversity (in all its forms) please share in the comments 🙂


*this fantastic idea was put forward by Daniel at Grains of Sand, and included in the DiS Pride Carnival

11 responses so far

  • Moose says:

    How about an "ally" sticker? At GradSchoolU, you can get one by completing ally training with the GLBTA office. There are also some good ones that say "safe space." Use either on your laptop or your office door. I think either of these has merit over the "straight but not narrow" option (and I think you are right to nix that). They both show that you (at least hypothetically) have given this issue more thought--you are informed about what an ally is/what a safer space is.

    Having information posted on your door about other groups can also help show your support...and of course, act on those things too! Potential lab members will know where your office is. Flyers for multicultural science student orgs or women-in-science stuff, resource #s for the women's crisis center and the like. Then tell your classes about events that the student groups are holding and show up at them. Faculty are usually very, very welcome at publicized events (special speakers, panels, anything that's not a normal meeting, and even sometimes normal meetings if you ask first). Make sure you are informed about disability services at your school. We are required to have a statement about disability accommodations printed in the syllabus but it's more meaningful if the professor reads or announces it aloud. Likewise, mention something about religious accommodations (even if it is just "speak to me if..."). I think any of these things would help show that you are committed to creating and supporting a diverse environment.

  • What the fucke is a "straight but not narrow" version of a rainbow?

  • Pascale says:

    Wasn't there a "safe place" sticker/sign a few years back? I had one on my office for a while.
    It's sort of sad that we (straight allies or anyone else) feel like we have to send out this signal to the GLBTQ community.

  • PQA says:

    I think language is immensely important. For example talking about people's partners and not boyfriends/girlfriends, saying things like the women in my lab have done great things rather then the girls in my lab, also making a point of using multicultural images of people in talks instead of white males is also helpful. Finally I would say alternating using he and she for examples in class is also a very noticeable way to indicate your awareness of gender and GBLT issues. It amazing how shocked people still are when you use a she for a general example instead of a he.

    • gerty-z says:

      I agree with you. I try to be careful is how I use language for things like this. I especially hate "girls" when referring to female PhD students.

  • drugmonkey says:

    In the SB blog days, people frequently commented on PP's nearly complete use of the feminine pronoun for the general case. It's still a thing for sure.

  • [...] about allies in the DiS Blog Carnival earlier this year, and this issue came up when labroides asked what a new prof could do to create an environment that fostered diversity, so that ze could [...]

  • [...] in the DiS Blog Carnival earlier this year, and came up with some good ideas when Labroides asked what a new prof could do to create an environment that fostered diversity, so that ze could [...]

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