Some students are concerned that if they select questions of gender, race, sexual orientation, or the content of marginalized cultures as their thesis/dissertation topics, faculty will assume they are interested in pursuing only these topics for their entire career or will question the relevance of their work.

Students who are passionate about such questions in their research and teaching should not feel apologetic. Instead, they should consider these ways to bolster the scholarly nature of their agenda.

Suggestions for Students
  • Articulate clearly and compellingly to potential mentors the value of your research interests and strive to make connections to others' work, as well as to other major topics and questions in the discipline.
  • Discuss with your peers and faculty members the ways that race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and other characteristics expand questions asked in your discipline and the approaches used for answering them.
  • Seek assistance from faculty and advanced graduate students on how to frame the issues that drive your intellectual curiosity.
  • Practice job talks and interview responses that demonstrate the depth and breadth of your research interests.
  • Understand that some people who are uninformed about your topic may perceive it as narrow or limited, so practice effective ways to address questions from skeptics.
Suggestions for Faculty
  • Ask students what their research interests are rather than assume that their interests are driven only by personal characteristics.
  • Find out what motivates your students. Then, help them learn how to use sound disciplinary concepts and theories to frame the issues that drive their intellectual curiosity.
  • Discuss with your students how race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and other characteristics expand the types of questions asked in your discipline and the tools used for answering them.
  • Help students practice job talks and interview responses that illustrate the depth and breadth of their research interests.
  • Encourage students to anticipate skeptics' responses to their topics and to plan ahead for addressing them.