Writing

Writing a diversity statement: for international students (opinion) – Inside Higher Ed

Summary

What’s a diversity statement? It’s one of the most common questions I get during one-on-one graduate career advising appointments with international Ph.D.s pursuing academic jobs. That particular document, of all the academic job-search documents, tends to be the most problematic for such students to conceptualize, write and discuss orally.

The goals of this article are twofold. The first is to explain the function of this document in American higher educational institutions, and the…….

What’s a diversity statement? It’s one of the most common questions I get during one-on-one graduate career advising appointments with international Ph.D.s pursuing academic jobs. That particular document, of all the academic job-search documents, tends to be the most problematic for such students to conceptualize, write and discuss orally.

The goals of this article are twofold. The first is to explain the function of this document in American higher educational institutions, and the second is to offer some practical advice on how to start formulating an effective diversity statement.

I want to begin by acknowledging that it is a difficult document to compose for nearly everyone—the one possible exception being those who study the topics of diversity as part of their research. Therefore, for those of you who are in the process of writing a diversity statement, I am here to validate your experience and to tell you that it is, in fact, difficult. This might be the first time in your whole graduate career that you have been asked to grapple with the concept and articulate your views on the topic. I hope my acknowledgment of the challenges will allow you to lead with self-compassion and kindness.

The Whys and Wherefores

You might be wondering why faculty positions are soliciting diversity statements from their applicants. Academic search committees in the United States are evaluating your ability to contribute to different institutional priorities, one of those being diversity. A diversity statement is a document that helps search committees evaluate your ability to contribute to diversity initiatives and achieve diversity goals of the department and academic institution where you are applying to be a faculty member.

As with everything in the United States, you have to ask yourself what colleges are really requesting of you, be it a document or interview question. The short answer: they want to know how you, as a future faculty member, will advance diversity, equity and inclusion at their institution, college and department. Your argument can be based on your experience with diversity in the past as well as your future plans and ideas for how you see yourself enhancing the diversity work at their particular university.

Reading this article as an international Ph.D. student, you might be thinking at this point, how can I, a single individual and a faculty member at a university, claim to be able to contribute to this large collective and social effort? That is exactly why international Ph.D.s struggle with this document—you haven’t considered or gotten comfortable with the concept of American individualism. This realization and mind-set shift will allow you to write a document where you will highlight your individual ability to contribute to diversity goals and initiatives within higher education.

Four Key Steps

So what specific steps do you need to take to write an effective diversity statement?

No. 1: Reflect. You can start by …….

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2021/11/22/writing-diversity-statement-international-students-opinion