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USC Marshall Faculty Hiring Initiative Advances Toward Goal of Gender Parity and Diversity

USC Marshall Faculty Hiring Initiative Advances Toward Goal of Gender Parity and Diversity

Marshall builds organizational diversity with focus on underrepresented scholars.

USC Marshall Faculty Hiring Initiative Advances Toward Goal of Gender Parity and Diversity

Greys Sošić, Senior Vice Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs 
[USC Photo]

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The USC Marshall School of Business is committed to ensuring that representation among its faculty roster matches the diversity of its student body. This year, Marshall's FACULTY HIRING INITIATIVE continues to advance its efforts to fulfill that commitment.

“The school is actively exploring various avenues to strengthen diversity within its faculty ranks. Marshall has a history of improvements in this regard and is dedicated to further enhancing its efforts in the future,” said GREYS SOŠIĆ, senior vice dean of faculty and academic affairs and the E. Morgan Stanley Chair in Business Administration. “If you are a student and none of your instructors look like you, it doesn’t feel welcoming. Having more diversity in terms of gender, race, orientation, across all dimensions, is very healthy.”

As a professor of DATA SCIENCES AND OPERATIONS (DSO), Sošić can attest to the need for representation among faculty. Over the last 10 years, she’s seen a major shift in DSO, growing its female faculty members from 14% to 30%. This is an exciting “success story” for a field that is generally male-dominated and for a department whose faculty numbers haven’t grown as fast as the amount of programs offered to students. Four additional female DSO professors joined this fall as Marshall welcomed 13 NEW FACULTY MEMBERS for the 2023–2024 academic year.

“It’s really good to have higher percentages of female faculty because it helps in future hiring. Women may feel more inclined to join a department when they see a significant presence of female faculty,” Sošić added. “It creates a higher likelihood of quality candidates joining because they see a school that supports female faculty and encourages their participation.”

While Marshall’s main goal remains to attract premier teaching and research faculty — acknowledged by its top five placement in the UT DALLAS BUSINESS SCHOOL RESEARCH RANKINGS — the school sees that principle as hand in glove with the diversity and gender parity objectives set forth in the 2021 Faculty Hiring Initiative.

This past year, Marshall instituted the creation of endowed TEACHING CHAIRS. A unique-to-Marshall initiative, the five inaugural chairs (three are women) recognize teaching innovation, curriculum development, student growth, and overall performance as an instructor. It complements the traditional endowed research chairs common at all universities and shows Marshall’s commitment to creating a supportive environment that rewards excellence and expertise at the school.

In addition, USC Marshall has been a sponsor of the Tenure Project and will host its 3RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE next summer on the university’s campus. The two-day convening will feature mentorship, vital resources, and workshops focusing on important issues affecting Black, Latinx, and Native junior faculty as they navigate the complex tenure track. Programs held during the 2024 Conference will be tailored to the different stages individuals may be experiencing within the pre-tenure period.

These efforts to achieve gender parity and increased diversity address the here and now, but what about the future? Looking forward, Marshall faculty members are doing significant work to cultivate a PhD pipeline for future scholars.

If you don’t have representation of females and people of color in the PhD pool, then you don’t have enough to hire from. I’m really proud of the efforts my colleagues are taking to develop the future.

— Greys Sošić

Senior Vice Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs

“This is very important. If we don’t have representation of females and people of color in the PhD pool, then you don’t have enough to hire from. I’m really proud of the efforts my colleagues are taking to develop the future,” Sošić said.

One of those working to inspire the next generation of scholars is VISHAL GUPTA, an associate professor of data sciences and operations. Earlier this year, Gupta launched Summer Scholars, hoping to expose L.A.-based undergraduates in mathematics and science to the cutting-edge research conducted in operations management and operations research.

“The modern research in business is much closer to engineering and computer science than it was 50 years ago, and we have a ton of leading schools in the Southern California region in these fields,” Gupta explained. “Within a relationship-building exercise, the goal was to expose students who are interested in engineering and computer science to what they can do with those tools inside modern business research and to encourage them to pursue their graduate work at USC Marshall.”

The program partners exceptional undergraduates with top DSO researchers at Marshall for one-to-one mentoring on a research project or future graduate study. The program participants also receive guidance on graduate school applications — an attractive component that could elevate applicants in the very competitive areas of operations research, data science, and statistics as they pursue work in higher education.

Programs like Summer Scholars and other pipeline-focused initiatives add to the PhD program’s efforts to broaden the input pipeline. However, finding opportunities outside of traditional recruitment strategies could prove most fruitful in the future. Fostering relationships with professional groups like National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), as well as building contacts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) offer high value in diversifying the field.

“It's not just about the number of people in the pipeline. We really want the kinds of people we’ve been systemically missing,” Gupta said. “To be successful, that requires looking in different places than we’ve looked before.”

For Marshall, working in the present with a nod to the future will continue to change the face of faculty representation, not only at the school, but across the nation.