In order to write an effective diversity statement for academic applications, it is helpful to be familiar with the types of diversity goals and initiatives that different academic institutions have. This is especially important for the schools to which you are applying, but you can get good ideas about how to talk about your experiences with diversity by looking at the diversity initiatives highlighted by other schools on their websites.
It is helpful to use some of the language you see in these pages to describe your own perspectives on diversity, since sharing common themes can make your statement more relevant to the search committee. Some schools that request diversity statements also provide clear instructions on how these should be written, and it makes sense to follow these directions carefully.
In general terms, diversity statement should include past experiences and activities, and also future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. As you are thinking about your statement, keep the following questions in mind, as these can help you to structure what you are writing about:
- What does diversity mean to you, and why is this important?
- Do you understand the university’s diversity goals?
- What have been some of your experiences either being part of a non-majority group, or interacting with diverse populations?
- How has your thinking about diversity actively influenced your teaching, research, and/or scholarship?
- In thinking about the different roles you have played, and will play, as part of your university service, what role has/will diversity issues play?
- What role do you believe that advising and mentoring play in working with diverse populations?
- Does your engagement with diversity help students prepare for careers in a global society?
Your experiences working with diverse populations will themselves be diverse, and there is no one type of experience that will be sought by search committees. You may not have substantial past activities. In this case, it will be a good idea to focus on future plans. As long as you are making an honest attempt to consider your role in meeting each institution’s diversity goals, then you are on the right track. Think about your past experiences and future goals as they relate to these approaches:
- Service experience with under-represented groups such as outreach, tutoring, or other types of programs addressing topics relevant to groups such as women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities. This might include being involved in committee or group focused on diversity, equity, climate and/or inclusion
- Teaching, advising, or mentoring under-represented or under-served groups
- Teaching approaches that focus on different learning styles and that can accommodate different learning abilities.
- Being aware of challenges faced by historically underrepresented populations
- Community involvement beyond the university
- Research activities that specifically contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Future activities you might pursue in context of how they might fit into a research area, department, campus, or national context, listing any ongoing campus initiatives of particular relevance you have found from your research into the institution’s diversity efforts.
Take a look at some of the examples in the document below to see how others have articulated their thoughts around diversity