Interactive theater: an effective tool to reduce gender bias in faculty searches

Academic Article


  • This paper describes the development, implementation, and impact evaluation of an interactive-theater based workshop by the ADVANCE program at the University of New Hampshire. The workshop is part of a larger institutional transformation program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the goal of transforming the university into an institution with fair and transparent faculty hiring and promotion practices. A systems approach was used to diagnose potential causes for the underrepresentation of women faculty in certain disciplines. This revealed that increasing awareness of, and reducing, implicit gender bias among members of faculty search committees could, in time, contribute to increasing in the representation of women faculty at UNH. A committee charged with developing a faculty workshop to achieve this change identified interactive theater as an effective faculty training approach. Customized scripts were developed and professional actors and a facilitator hired to implement the workshop. The workshop’s effectiveness in fulfilling its goals was assessed using faculty hiring and composition data, program evaluations, participant interviews, and questions in the annual faculty climate survey. Findings indicate that the representation of women faculty increased significantly at UNH since the implementation of the interactive theater workshop. Analysis of the multiple sources of data provides corroborating evidence that a significant portion of the increase is directly attributable to the workshop. This paper demonstrates the effectiveness of the systems approach in diagnosing and solving organizational problems and of interactive-theater based workshops in an academic environment.
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 11, 2019
  • Published In


  • Gender
  • Higher education
  • Recruitment
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 178
  • End Page

  • 187
  • Volume

  • 38
  • Issue

  • 2