Football and academia also have their differences, to which Malcom recommends that we pay attention. Football coaches exert great effort looking for talent. In addition, in football a player’s or coach’s reputation only carries him so far. If players or coaches arrive with great reputations but do not perform, they’re out. Conversely, they may come from places unheard of but when they perform they’re in—embraced, supported, and helped to thrive.
As game plans go, Malcom held a high view of the NSF-funded ADVANCE program, as it requires taking a holistic view of the institution. Malcom had a series of comments for multiple audiences about the plays contained in the academic playbook of interventions for maximizing American talent:
• There is a need for data disaggregated by race, sex, discipline, citizenship, and other traits, because we cannot change what we do not understand.
• Mentors, sponsors, and coaches are critical. Today, young women of color do not have to become something they have never seen. Senior women have a responsibility to make the path visible and easier for junior scholars.
• We encourage publications by encouraging publishing with others as well as building broader partnerships.
• Scholars must make and nurture professional connections. Women of color must regularly attend the major conferences in their fields and expand their professional networks.
• Women of color in tenure-track positions must make sure that they understand the policies and procedures that will guide their advancement in the academic, institutional community. They must ask senior faculty and department chairs about the requirements for moving to the next level and taking a leadership role within the department.
• Institutions need to ensure that the selection of faculty is more equitable throughout the recruitment and advancement processes.
In addition, Malcom listed the following points as needing immediate attention in order to increase the nation’s ability to capture the intelligence and creativity of its top talent, upon which America’s scientific and technological strength depends:
• The importance of career transition points—and their weaknesses—in the education and careers of talented women of color.
• The need for transparent institutional policies—for example, in hiring and promotion.
• The need to raise awareness of unconscious biases.
• The twin needs to 1) obtain focused, additional data (qualitative as well as quantitative), and 2) move ahead to solutions knowing what we know.
• The need for federal agencies to fund more research on gender and/or race targeting select populations.
• Overall, the need for a “toolkit” that can be customized to each institutional and personal context.
Malcom concluded by framing the issues at hand in terms of differentism, citing research that found that some prejudices or reactions are not conscious but are the result of the brain and gut operating independently. She noted that the “universal tendency [is] to form coalitions and favor our own side.”