Doing Expert Evaluations for Positions at Other Universities – some tips from an equal opportunities perspective

As a professor I am asked many times per year to do expert evaluations for other universities. I honestly think that I also get more of these because I am a woman in a female dominated field. The universities need one woman and one man to do this job, and there are indeed fewer women than men in computer science.

These expert evaluations are of different kinds but for example they include rankings of candidates for a position at another university, or assessing weather someone can be promoted to professor, lecturer etc. I also very often do assessments of teaching skills, and I have spent many weeks of work on that over the years.

Below are some of the ideas that I think are crucial when doing these expert evaluations from an equal opportunities perspective:

Transparency about evaluation criteria used. When doing these assessments I work a lot on being transparent about the assessment criteria. I spend many hours working on describing on what bases the ranking is done. I also know that this is one way for all of us to avoid being too biased in our assessments which makes this part even more important. The criteria for rankings are found in the official employment documents of the university.

Writing to a Respected Colleague. I always imagine that the person I evaluate is a respected colleague of mine. This makes me very aware of the phrasings and also of how critical I am. I know that everyone is struggling and trying their very best given their circumstances and they will read what I write very carefully. I am especially careful when I write negative comments.

Follow the evaluation criteria to the detail. I make use of my evaluation criteria in every detail when I describe the work that has been done and try to structure the report according to the criteria so that it becomes transparent.

Try to be aware of biases. We are all biased in our thinking, and in all evaluations we need to try to be non biased. I go though my assessments one or two extra times before submitting with the bias glasses on thinking of those aspects that I have learned are often biased. I am especially aware when I asses independence, leadership skills and potential future.