Monthly Archives: December 2017

Writing reference letters & avoiding gender bias

Today we borrow from the news section of the Yale Women Faculty Forum. ‘Tis the season to write letters of recommendation, and the data show that gender bias in letters is common, the gender of the writer and the strength of the candidate notwithstanding.

Letters for men tend to be longer and stress their accomplishments (they are four times as likely to mention publications, for example, than letters for women). Meanwhile, letters for women tend to be shorter, are seven times more likely to mention their personal lives, and stress qualities like effort and helpfulness. This one-page resource suggests quick, useful advice based on research: for instance, tilt toward insightful rather than compassionate; use words like resourceful, independent, or skilled rather than diligent. Also, Yale WFF links to this gender bias calculator, which will apparently scan your letter for what it considers flag words (among them teaching and students . . .).

Thumbs up from Knight Rider!


Did you ever see the 80s TV show Knight Rider? With David Hasselhoff and a talking car? Hasselhoff’s image now has cameo appearances on the Congrats, you have an all male panel tumblr site, where you too can submit all-male panels for display.

One of my favorites on this site is a conference held this fall in Phoenix called “Everything’s Going to Be Different: Creating the Future City.” Here’s the flyer, with the “Hoffsome” stamp of disapproval:


For more substantive news on this topic, read Kelly J. Baker’s Chronicle article from January 2017: “Can We Finally End the All-Male Panel?”

An in unrelated news, word is that Hasselhoff is bringing Knight Rider back. Read more & see the image credit here.

Your work-life mix today

Are you familiar with the  Johns Hopkins Work-Life Pledge?

To quote from the Work, Life, & Engagement website: “It’s an opportunity for faculty and staff to set a daily intention for 30 days by choosing from best practices in five categories known to improve work-life effectiveness.” More broadly, “the Work-Life field is shifting from a sole focus on programs and policies to include a critical focus on culture and climate.”

Culture and climate were key words at the Where We Stand event a few weeks ago, and a recent HUB article encouraging people to make the pledge for December (when holidays can add to how busy & stressed we are) reminded us to pass this along.

In a nutshell: “Taking the Johns Hopkins Work-Life Pledge is an opportunity to put resources and knowledge into action; it’s an opportunity to personalize your work-life approach; and it’s an opportunity to be a champion for work-life culture at Johns Hopkins.”