I recently underwent diversity training at my university. Good times. Part of the course materials included a paper on gender bias in hiring, which contained a list of recommendations for institutions (for avoiding bias in hiring decisions), but also included the following evidence-based recommendations for women seeking employment (to help them counteract bias and implicit bias in hiring decisions). As we often get questions on the blog about things like interview attire, family status issues, etc., this seemed pretty relevant as we approach the interview season. (My posting of these recommendations should not be construed as an endorsement of any of them. I can't say that I ever did any of these things, at least not consciously. If you're interested in the reasons for the recs, read the article.)
Recommendations for female applicants("Interventions That Affect Gender Bias in Hiring: A Systematic Review." Carol Isaac, PhD, PT, Barbara Lee, PhD, and Molly Carnes, MD, MS Academic Medicine, Vol. 84, No. 10 / October 2009)
● Provide some evidence of communal job-relevant behaviors (e.g., being helpful and sensitive to the needs of subordinates)
● Indicate clear evidence of competency (e.g., resume, third-party endorsements) but avoid appearing self-promoting in an interview
● Do not show anger or discuss previous job-related situations that made you angry
● Best to avoid feminine-scented perfume, but wearing masculine-scented perfume may be beneficial (although you would need to pretest the scent to ensure that it is considered “masculine”)
● Avoid revealing parenthood status until job and salary are secured
● In your initial application, if you have a female-gendered first name, consider using initials only, and if you have a gender-ambiguous name, consider removing gender-identifying information
● Strive for an “attractive” but neutral appearance for interviews or application photographs. Avoid interviewing in overly feminine clothing (more masculine clothing and facial features may be beneficial)
● If you are visibly pregnant, it might be wise to obscure it with your clothing
● Avoid tentative speech patterns (e.g., use of intensifiers such as “really” and “definitely,” hedges such as “I guess” or “sort of,” and hesitations such as “well” or “let’s see”)
These are basically about countering implicit and unconscious bias -- bias the discriminator doesn't even recognize as bias -- and many of them are common sense. Probably best to avoid ranting about your previous scumbag employer, although apparently, that goes double for women. The issue of self-promotion, and avoiding it if you're a woman, clearly points to a double standard. Talking about your work in a non-self-promoting way in a job interview is going to require some real verbal finesse. Hiding an advanced pregnancy would be pretty hard for a lot of women. Some of this advice seems, on the face of it, kind of offensive. You might well ask yourself why women should have to hide a pregnancy or wear "masculine" perfume (AXE body spray anyone?). (Although if you ask me, just don't wear perfume. That goes for you guys too.) But again, this is about getting past implicit bias.
And I'll tell ya. The interactions with others in the diversity workshop revealed a level of ignorance about gender bias, and what constitutes bias, and what is legally permitted in interviews that was pretty eye-opening. You might think that people actually taking a workshop on diversity would not publicly say crazy shit that is discriminatory, sexist, and racist, but they do, and I'm going to guess that it's because -- despite efforts to re-educate them -- they just don't know better. Which is just to say that sexism is alive and well in academe, and forewarned is forearmed. Some of this advice probably applies equally well to minority candidates (use initials if you have an "ethnic-sounding" name, don't show anger, etc.). I have not been able to find comparable practical recommendations for countering racial bias, but I'll post it if I do.