Updated — February 27, 2024

Yale University Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department

Good practices  For:Research institutes

In 2020, the Yale Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department (MB&B) tested anonymized applications for tenure-track Assistant Professor positions. These applications omit names of people, places, funding agencies, and journals.

This change was brought about due to findings that names can act as cues for unintended biases like ingroup favoritism. MB&B cited research by Olof Åslund and Oskar Nordstrӧm Skans that demonstrates anonymous applications increase the chance of underrepresented and minoritized groups advancing to the interview stage.

The goal of this approach is to circumvent unintended biases based in name recognition. MB&B hopes that implementing anonymous applications will help to create impressions of candidates based on their contributions to science, teaching, and equity and diversity statements, rather than where candidates earned their degrees.

In May 2021 the MB&B department completed their anonymized search for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position, which resulted in two pending offers from an initial pool of 188 applicants. This format of hiring is meant to mitigate biases, increase applicant pool diversity and decrease subjectivity during the application review process. To achieve this, the hiring committee, composed of four MB&B faculty, implemented a rubric for evaluating the candidates. After the first round of selection in which the committee only read the applicants’ research statements, the 32 applicants were made up of 17 men and 15 women. Fourteen candidates were invited to interview, seven of which were people of color.

The department anticipates making more modifications to this new hiring process including “separating diversity statements from other materials and allowing the inclusion of personal details.”

Naughton, B (2021). MB&B completes anonymized search for faculty positions.