Is there a time when someone’s ability overrides their behavior? #DiversityJC recap

Last week we discussed if is there a time when someone’s ability overrides their behavior, based on the last news about the the professor at University of Chicago that resigned after sexual misconduct.

As expected, the answer for that question was a large NO! However, we had some interesting discussions about the topic.

As this might be the case for the particular example cited in our article, this is not an unusual circumstance. There were several cases of sexual misconduct in academia over the last months, and according to the GEOCOGNITION RESEARCH LABORATORY website, since the early 1980s there has been 204 DOCUMENTED CASES  of sexual misconduct in academia… The polemic of this particular case was that the University of Chicago knew of his past histories of sexual misconduct, but decided to hire him anyway. One could argue that it is hard to predict human behavior, as the recent Kalamazoo shooter that passed the Uber background check and even had received positive reviews!

Coming back to academia, is this part of the ‘halo effect’, as suggested by Ian Street? The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. In this case, did the amount of grants and money cloud the judgment of the hiring committee?

This is so sad, being a good person and a good teacher doesn’t seem to matter at all (Though Lieb was a good teacher)! In the current world of less funding to research, money becomes one of the main signs of success. And focusing on money all the time, outside of anything else excludes some groups that don’t only value money. Money should be one more thing to add to a long list of qualities/requirements. Like suggested by Andrew Kniss:

*Is there supposed to be a Tweet from Andrew Kniss here*?

Yes. It is hard to completely exclude toxic people in hiring, but damage can be mitigated by addressing behavior, not ignoring it. How do we ensure hiring excludes those who are harassers? Not always easy to know, sadly. And less than harassment, some of this comes down to the hard to define ‘fit’ of a hire to a department too. We don’t have a perfect solution, but one of the premises of our #DiversityJC is to discuss pertinent issues and at least instigate debate and new ideas. You can read the whole discussion on Storify. A big thanks to everyone that joined and we hope to hear your voice in our next one!

Doctor_PMS, Ian Street, Emily Klein

Links shared during the discussion:

It’s Better to Avoid a Toxic Employee than Hire a Superstar

Terrific Question for Assessing Culture in a Job Search

Reader Question: Building an Inclusive Team


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