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

Academic Article


  • Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the development, implementation and impact evaluation of an interactive theater-based workshop by the ADVANCE program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). The workshop is part of a larger institutional transformation program funded by the National Science Foundation. Design/methodology/approach This institutional transformation program relied upon a systems approach 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 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. The committee oversaw the development of customized scripts, and the hiring of professional actors and a facilitator to implement the workshop. Findings The workshop’s effectiveness in fulfilling its goals was assessed using faculty hiring and composition data, program evaluations, participant interviews and questions in an 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. Originality/value This paper demonstrates the effectiveness of interactive theater-based workshops in an academic environment and of the systems approach in diagnosing and solving organizational problems.
  • Authors

  • Shea, Christine M
  • Malone, Mary Fran
  • Young, Justin R
  • Graham, Karen
  • 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