Writing a Diversity Statement

Published: Tues., November 13

If you are applying for faculty positions at universities, you may find yourself having to provide a diversity statement. This is a fairly new addition to faculty job application, so most faculty and graduate students have never written one unless asked to do so. So what should this statement look like? How do you know what to include? Below you will find answers to all of your questions.

What It Is

A diversity statement is a one-page document explaining your experiences and commitments to diversity. You can safely assume that any university that requests one is very committed to inclusivity and supporting their diverse population so they are looking for someone who would be supportive of that mission. Much like a teaching statement what you include will vary depending on what you believe or have done. Three areas that might be included in a diversity statement are 1) your values related to diversity, 2) your experiences working with diverse populations, and 3) your future plans related to inclusivity.

Questions for Drafting a Statement

Drafting a diversity statement will take some time. Draft answers to these questions to help you start thinking about your diversity statement.

  1. What does diversity, equity, or inclusion mean to you?
  2. Why is diversity important to you or the classes you teach?
  3. How do you work to ensure your classes are inclusive and welcoming to all students?
  4. Do you do any service or work with diverse or underrepresented populations? If so, what?
  5. Does your research connect to diversity efforts or our understanding of diverse populations? If so, how?
  6. Are you personally diverse in any way that might be relevant to your work? For example, were you a first-generation student, or were you a woman in STEM who aims to expands opportunities for these populations?
  7. What would you like to do in future departments related to diversity and equity?

Tips on Writing a Diversity Statement

Share your story

No two people will have the same experiences with diversity. Don’t be afraid to share what makes you unique. You are not required to share all the details of your own background of you are uncomfortable doing so for some reason. However, it can sometimes be helpful to describe these experiences especially if they give you a particular understanding for working with a specific population. One area that you probably want to avoid, however, is any description of mental health problems that might make you seem like you would not be able to adequately handle the demands of the job.

Focus on common understandings of diversity

This will include race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. When they ask about diversity this is what they are most likely referring to and talking about other types of diversity might dilute your statement. For example, while you might have had to navigate different environments moving to New York from the Georgia, this is probably less meaningful to the readers of your statement unless it it was connected to your experiences or being a ethnic minority in that new environment.

Identify specific experiences

Much like teaching statements, diversity statements are stronger if you can be specific rather than talk in generalities. Tell a story. Statements that don't include specifics tend to sound more like vague platitudes. This will make your statement stronger an give the reader something concrete to picture when they think of who you are.

Edit as needed

A school that has high Hispanic and African American populations might value slightly different things about diversity than a school where the students are perhaps less ethnically diverse, but may have a large number of first-generation or religiously diverse students. Be prepared to think specifically about the population at those schools, especially in relation to any programs you might like to implement in the future.

References

Golash-Boza, T. (2016). “The Effective Diversity Statement.” Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2016/06/10/how-write-effective-diversity-statement-essay