Our books






Become a Fan

« Writing philosophy papers – some reflections, tips and tricks (J. Adam Carter) | Main | Teaching scepticism cross-culturally (Roger Clarke) »

05/07/2019

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Recent Grad

Greg, thanks for posting this. I think it's very important to hear about the experience of people who don't end up landing a tenure-track position since that's where most philosophy phd's will end up in.

I do have a question about where you are now. Your post suggests that you found some sort of permanent non-TT position where you say you'll stay indefinitely. Is that a renewable lectureship or some other sort of full-time permanent position? If so, can you say something about how you got this position?

no TT yet

I recognize that you say it is not the point of your story, but would you mind sharing your "ideas about what does matter," since it may be helpful for people like me who are in a somewhat similar position?

Joe

Well, I'll mention the elephant in the room. I challenge anyone to find a single philosopher who is not a white male that has Greg's teaching and publication record (18 general courses and 11 pubs in good-to-great journals) and who is not already on the tenure-track.

We need to start being more honest about this, and I find it absurd that we continually dance around this point. While lots of variables contribute to job market failure, there is absolutely no chance that a woman or minority philosopher would have Greg's publication, teaching and outreach record and not already be on their way to tenure. In short: this column doesn't contain any advice for *people* in non-Leiterrific programs. It's advice for *white guys* in non-Leiterrific programs.

Greg, my condolences. Doubtless you may not agree with my assessment but this situation is absurd. You are a hell of a philosopher who has really worked hard to beat the odds and done some great work for our profession, and unless there's some variable I am missing here, we as a discipline need to stop allowing ourselves to do this to people like you.

Georgi

Many thanks for your insights and perspective.

I would just like to note that this advice seems too strong:

> Also, do not take a terminal M.A. at a PhD-granting department. You will not get financial support and it will be very expensive.

The University of Tennessee grants PhDs. But it also funds terminal MA students. Some MA students are funded, and others are self-funded.

I believe that at Tennessee the funded students receive the same funding conditions as the PhD students, but for fewer years. And some MA students are then offered places on the PhD programme. (Presumably Tennessee is not unique, but it is the department I know about.)

I agree that self-funding a terminal MA is a bad idea, unless you are independently wealthy. But this is different from whether to "take a terminal M.A. at a PhD-granting department". They are different questions.

Thanks again,
Georgi

keeping on

Greg, I think you may be selling yourself short a little here. I've had 0 TT interviews in 2.5 years on the market, and can't even get a full-time temporary position (except one with a 7/7 teaching load). And I have no publications, so it's hard not to think that's why. By my standards, you're successful. I really wish I'd had a mentor tell me to work harder to make up for lack of analytic philosophy in undergrad. Or that I'd gone into my PhD program as focused on the market as you were. Thanks for telling your story--it's inspiring to me, actually. But I think you're sadly probably right that hard work alone can't get you a TT position these days.

Chris Stephens

Just to follow up on Georgi's point:

Virtually all the Philosophy PhD programs in Canada (I'm at UBC) also have terminal Masters that are funded (at UBC; its about 20K per year for two years). This in part is a hold over from time when you were required to have an MA in Canada to get into a PhD program. But many American students don't seem to realize there are many funded MA programs in philosophy (besides of course the excellent "terminal only MA" at places such as Simon Fraser University).

Some of these MA programs (eg.,Toronto; Western; York) are one year and some (e.g., Calgary, UBC) are two years. At some places (eg., McGill), the MA option is only in Bioethics. But as far as I know, all are funded.

I think this large number of terminal MAs (at PHD granting institutions) is a good thing. The job market is, as you note, terrible, and getting an MA first is a good way to find out whether you really want to commit to a PhD program, with all its risks.

Chris Stephens

In response to Joe: I'm sure there are some.

Even just restricting myself to people who have posted about their job experiences on the Philosophers' Cocoon, there appear to be (or were) such people:
Andrew Moon would've been just such a person until he found his job after 8 years on the market. If you search for his name on this site you can read about his story.

Greg Stoutenburg

Thanks for the interaction here, everyone. I'll make a few replies:

General point: my goal here was to tell my story publicly, in some detail, as a supplement to the abundance of general advice that already exists for TT job-seekers. I didn't offer advice or hypothesize about my position in the main post, except for the bit of advice that Georgi commented on.

Georgi: You're right that I should have phrased my advice as a conditional. My M.A., from Boston University, makes me extremely grateful for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program!

Recent Grad: Sure, I can say something about my current position, one that I intend to keep as long as I can. I work at York College of Pennsylvania, which is a small, regional liberal arts and pre-professional college. Other terminology would classify YCP as a “comprehensive” college, I think, though I haven’t heard that term used locally. My official responsibilities are solely teaching and administrative, although that conceals the reality. I am regularly tapped for various teaching technology purposes, designed the first online courses in my large department, served on a search committee for a library position, created a couple of new philosophy courses, and I’m now overseeing a college-wide assessment of our quantitative fluency requirement. I do things that Assistant Professors do. I was hired as an Instructor, which according to the faculty manual here is reserved for people without their terminal degrees. Of course, I have my field’s terminal degree. So my contract was turned into a three-year renewable contract at the end of my first year, which was last year.

This was the only non-TT job I applied to in the cycle that resulted in my taking the position here. I didn’t mention this in the original post, but I also entertained a TT offer at the same time, from a small state college in Florida that had a 5-5 load, no research support, no relocation assistance of any kind (“We could hire someone local, so I’m afraid we don’t have that”), and the worst benefits package that I have ever heard of. When I asked about the compensation, I was encouraged to teach an overload, up to 6 or 7 courses per semester. At the time I was in a one-year non-renewable at University of Idaho, and apples-to-apples the TT would have cost 10k per year to accept in comparison with my then-current temporary position.

In contrast, I have a nice benefits package which includes good retirement benefits and an enormous tuition discount at a wonderful private school that my six-year-old is attending. I enjoy a good work-life balance and the respect of my colleagues. I wish I were on the tenure track, but I wouldn’t give up what I have just to strike the word “Visiting” from my business cards. I’m piling up new skills and work experiences. My office has a window. I just bought a house. York is opening new breweries. Life is long.

Joe: Again, I wasn’t trying to offer advice. I appreciate the concern, and frankly demographics are relevant. But we know that already: https://blog.apaonline.org/2016/05/03/academic-placement-data-and-analysis-an-update-with-a-focus-on-gender/. And that leads me to…

No-TT: I think it is far easier to point to a story and say ‘here are some facts about me and here is what happened’ than it is to offer much in the way of advice. I might misinterpret my own case or the current trends. It’s hard to be much more than general without knowing about you. But since you asked: my guess is that the two single biggest factors at play in my case are the scarcity of jobs and the absurd narrowing of possible job candidates—no longer does a position ask for someone with expertise in metaphysics, but someone with an AOS in applied mereology and an AOC in medieval veganism, just to teach (of course) Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Ethics, and an interdisciplinary course in a topic of your choice at the local four-year college. So, No-TT, much of how things go on the market is out of one’s control. If your background is much like mine and you really want that TT job, I would recommend writing your dissertation in an area that’s fashionable. And while I’m speculating, I’ll add that I think I’ve noticed that different kinds of topics are debated among people who are more likely to get research positions and those who are more likely to get teaching positions. I wrote my dissertation on infallible knowledge, with a heavy dose of the semantics and pragmatics of knowledge attributions. That now strikes me as a person-from-NYU topic, while I might have done better to write on, I don’t know, something in applied epistemology. I’ve heard from several people (prominent philosophers included) that I over-published, so maybe land one in Synthese and call it a day. Teaching is important too: mainly, I think, having done some and having something meaningful to say about how you do it.

Personally, I think candidates should regularly ask themselves: is the value of being a philosophy professor worth doing those things you don’t want to do, and not doing things you do want to do?

Amanda

We have talked about this many times before:

1. Specializing in metaphysics or epistemology
2. Coming from a low ranked program
3. Publishing in top journals.

These are the people that have the hardest time on the market. I hope grad students will take that into consideration. (Most of these people are white men, because very few women and minorities do traditonal MandE. Because of this, those few who do will really stand out.)

Greg - if you are happy enough in your job, and don't want to deal with the stress of applying anymore, I can understand. But lots of people take more than 4 years to get a job these days -and it does change for them. So I guess, a reason to think things will change, is that people with similar profiles have had things change. Of course, others haven't. So it is a risk, and you have to make your own decisions.

When there is only a handful of epistemology jobs every year (especially traditional epistemology, as social epistemology is what a number of epistemology job adds are looking for) and 500 plus epistemologists, this result isn't surprising. It is a shame, though, that many grad students don't go into things with their eyes open. And a shame that there are not enough jobs for very talented philosophers. Thanks for helping other people to see the rough world out there, Greg. I have a friend with a CV almost exactly like yours, graduated in 2015, same deal as you. It is a competitive place.

Amanda

Also, I am very glad to see that you are treated well at your current place, and am very surprised that a 4-year college (it was 4-year, right?) would have a 5/5 and then ask you to teach extra courses? I didn't know that was a thing. It seems you made the right choice.

disgruntled

I confess that the job market is a mystery to me. It seems though that prestige, connections, and demographics are three quite influential factors. Academic merit in terms of contribution to the field in the form of publications and teaching are only one (maybe minor) aspect of the hiring process.

I do not have a prestigious academic background but succeeded in learning the publication game mostly on my own and have published many papers now (more than a dozen), most in top 20 general journals and well-regarded specialist journals.

However, I have gotten absolutely nowhere on the job market. I think this was due in part to limited teaching experience due to a poorly run PhD program. However, I couldn't get postdocs or temporary research positions more generally either. So, it can't simply be due to a lack of teaching experience.

I have seen (white) women hired in research heavy TT positions or equivalent with zero publications. I have been passed over for postdocs in favor of Harvard grads with zero publications. I have seen friends who were well connected find employment easily even though their CVs were similar to or worse than mine.

Anyway, I confess I don't really know what's going on--maybe I just suck at applications. However, it feels like the entire system is rigged and corrupt, and it's certainly easy for me to find examples of what look like corruption. So, I have to agree with Greg that merit doesn't play a very big role in the hiring process, or at least it is not sufficient. I didn't understand this until recently and feel like people weren't honest with me about how the system really works.

I used to think you could make it via sweat equity, but I no longer do.

Ian

Many parts of Greg's story resonated with me. I am also a first-generation college graduate, from an area of the country and family in which I didn't really see many examples of people in professional and/or well-paying careers. I suspect that one of the reasons I became an academic was that my college professors (at a prestigious, R1 university) had the best jobs out of all of the people I knew, and so I decided to try to do whatever was necessary to get one of those jobs. Now, however, I'm more open to other sorts of careers, but I'm approaching them later in life than others and my attention is divided, since I'm still pursuing academic work, as well.

I suspect that high-achieving first-gen students are susceptible to this sort of trap. All of my undergraduate mentors were very supportive of my graduate school ambitions, but I wish now that someone had just laid out all of the possible career options for me. I didn't really know what was possible, with a degree and good grades from a top school.

helper

Disgruntled,
I would gladly look at your application materials and give you feedback. I am a tenured faculty member, and I have done this before for someone writing on the Cocoon site. (I have helped others as well) Last time, Marcus was kind enough to mediate, and get the person's applications materials (a c.v., a typical letter, teaching file, etc.) from them to me. After reading the material, I returned feedback, via Marcus. Assuming Marcus would do this again, I would gladly help you. When I have helped people on the market in the past, I am always a bit surprised at the mistakes people make in their applications.

Peter Furlong

Ian, that is a really interesting point. I, too, am a first-generation college graduate, who was close to few if any people with professional or well-paying jobs. I don't regret my choices, but I wonder if I would have ended up making different ones if I had had different connections growing up.

Paul

Greg: I agree with Amanda, that especially given your teaching and admin experience at your current institution, I think you have a really good shot at a TT job at a teaching school, and it might only take 1-2 rounds of apps. BUT...I have a spouse and kids and I completely understand your decision to stay put. When I was coming out of grad school, many colleagues took jobs at tiny schools in the middle of nowhere for little pay just because it was a job. I was fortunate in that my spouse had/has a very good job and we are happy where we live with friends, church, community (even though we would have NEVER chosen to live here lol), and she just straight up said no way in hell are we moving for one of those jobs. So I agree with you that if you can pay the bills, there are other considerations that are more important. However, I am also really fortunate that it worked out for me, hindsight and all...

Marcus Arvan

I work in an area (ethics) where there is a lot of jobs. I also came from a fairly high-ranked department (Arizona). But, for what it is worth, I may be example of why it can make sense to stay on the market for longer than four years (if one is willing to do it), and of how improvements to one's dossier materials may help.

Here, to the best of my recollection, was my track record in my seven years on the market:

Year 1: 2 interviews (both TT), 1 non-TT offer
Year 2: 2 interviews (one TT), 1 non-TT offer
Year 3: 0 interviews
Year 4: 1 TT interview (in Uzbekistan!)
Year 5: 3 TT interviews (one flyout)
[I utilized a job-market consultant after year 5]
Year 6: 6 TT interviews (several flyouts)
Year 7: 13 TT interviews (several flyouts), hired TT

I also know a few other people (e.g. Andrew Moon, and another fellow on search committee that hired me) who got TT jobs after more than 5 years on the market.

This isn't to say that everyone (or even most people) should stick on the market forever, given the costs involved. It is simply to say that sometimes it can take time.

5 times isn't the charm

Thank you for posting this, Greg. A lot of what you said resonated with me. This was my 5th year on the job market and I have not been able to get a TT or semi-permanent non-TT job that would be a stable source of income. After my recent rejection for a good non-TT position that I really wanted, I'm trying to decide whether it's finally time to throw in the towel.

A couple of thoughts in response to things you said about your publication record:

1. It seems to me that a top research school would be lucky to have you. And for schools that really care about research, frankly I don't understand why prestige of PhD granting institution matters. From what I gather, it matters to smaller schools, especially SLACs, for marketing purposes ('Hey, all of our profs got their PhDs from Ivy League schools, send your student here and pay $70k a year to be taught by them!).

2. Also, it's really a no-win situation for people from non-prestigious PhD programs when we're told our only chance of getting a job is a good publication record and then people who publish a lot get told they have overpublished. WTF? (Also, for what it's worth, I'm from a non-prestigious PhD program and have 3 publications, though one is since the end of the job market season so didn't factor into anything this past round. My point, though, is that there doesn't seem to be any perfect number.)

3. To get on my soapbox for a minute: philosophy search committees' obsession with prestige of PhD-granting institution is elitist AF and continues to perpetuate class divisions and prevent any sort of upward mobility based on merit. It needs to stop. As philosophers who have presumably studied some ethics at some point and who presumably recognize that we should strive to promote equity, we need to do better. (Also, the hypocrisy when schools say they care about promoting diversity and equity in their job ads and then rank prestige of institution more highly than things like publication record, teaching experience, and outreach is baffling.)

One final comment, not related to anything Greg said and not directed at any particular comment afterward but related to some of these comments: being a woman in M&E and having publications, a great teaching record, and service does not mean that one will get a job.

Jay

Marcus, where can a late stage grad student like myself find a reliable job market consultant?

Greg Stoutenburg

Thanks again for the interaction everyone! It’s been instructive to watch the responses, whether here, through tracking shares on social media, or by email from sympathetic readers. A sizable chunk of them have had to do with what I might to do improve my own chances. There are probably tweaks that I could make here or there. Similarly, several people, with good intentions, have shared longer-term success stories, as Marcus has (and for which this blog has a category: Long Job-Market Journeys). But I want to repeat a part of the intended moral of the story: there just isn’t anything like a list of what counts on the market that one might consult and check off as a measure of progress. That’s the notion I had in mind when I said there is no “meritocratic ordering”. The lack of one isn’t the end of the world, as institutions will hire and fire as they see fit. But we expect tenure-track searches to operate differently from, say, the selection of the next leader of the Women’s March, and the profession talks as if that is the case. I think the inclination many have to respond to this story with yet more advice about what to do to secure a tenure-track job betrays a reliance on some version of the merit view. Surely there are some actions that help, and some will help quite a bit: get a PhD, publish some. Beyond that, committees will do as they choose and you had better hope that you’re what they’re after.

Since it came up in a few posts, I will add (publicly) that we all know that identity plays an important role in hiring decisions. It does so both directly—in thinking about an optimally diverse faculty—and indirectly—in advertising for positions that are more likely to attract candidates with certain identities. Having a desired identity is not a sufficient condition in a job search, but in some searches, including some I have known of, it is a necessary one, and it at minimum affects the probability of landing on the tenure-track, as the study I linked to above demonstrates. We would do well to make up our minds about whether or not that is a bad thing. How we decide will either indict or absolve our practices.

Amanda

"We would do well to make up our minds about whether or not that is a bad thing. How we decide will either indict or absolve our practices"

Who are "we"? There is not any central body organizing what "we" are going to do. In my old grad program, the search committee was completely against using gender as a factor in hiring, and the administration insisted that we did so or we would get nobody. Things are not as simple as making some sort of nebulous collective decision. These decisions go far beyond philosophy faculty.

Every time I see a link to this study, I can't help but get a bit annoyed with the "women are .65 more likely to get a permanent job within two years..." Guys (not you, Greg) often use this as if it proves they know their gender explains their lack of a job.

There are a lot of different ways to look at statistics:

Total number of men who got a permanent job 457/1187 = 38.5%
Total women who got a permanent job = 27/466 = 48.2%

In what follows I say "get P jobs" as meaning "get tt jobs" or "permanent jobs"

Women, controlled for population size, are more likely to get P jobs. Sometimes people hiring have a strong preference for hiring a woman. I have seen that happen. So please nobody respond to my post by saying that I am "denying" the phenomenon. I am not. I just said it was true.

That said, whenever these discussions come up there are always a few suggestions that make it sound like:

"Well, 62% of men didn't get P jobs. It is because they are men, and women who were less qualified got hired over them...."

Well, okay. There are some things odd about this:

1. 52% of women ALSO didn't get permanent jobs. What explains the 52% of women who didn't get P jobs?

2. 457 men did get permanent jobs. I find it highly unlikely that of these instances, there was no women applicants. My guess is there was always a woman applicant. So 457 times, schools choose to hire men when they could have hired women.

3. Suppose you are a man who didn't get a job. Let us look at the situation at random. And let us be *VERY* generous with assumptions about schools hiring women only for demographic reasons, and not because they are qualified. Indeed I am willing to assume, for the sake of argument that *100%* of female hires were hired for demographic reasons.

With the above in mind, suppose you are a man that didn't get a P job. Was it your gender, that explains things?

Total number of men who got P jobs 457
Total number of women who got P jobs 225
The odds that your not getting a P job was because of your gender 225/457 = 49.2% So, there is a 50/50 chance it wasn't because of your gender. So you should be completely agnostic about the situation. And this is assuming *every* hire of a woman is for gender reasons. If we were to be more charitable, and assume only 1/2 were for gender reasons, then the odds your gender explains things are roughly 1/4. So 3/4 it is *not* because of your gender.

4.Suppose that we replace every single woman that was hired with a man. There was 682 permanent jobs. Let us suppose every single one justifiably went to men. In this best case scenario there would still be *505* men without jobs. And well, you couldn't explain a single one of them to it being the fault of a woman.

So if no women were hired, 42% of men would still be without a job. Hence, if a talented man didn't get a job. Is it because a woman unfairly got one? Or is it because there are so many damn people on the market? All I am saying, is that in the vast majority of case, a guy couldn't possibly know. Odds say 50/50. So acting as though he does know is just disingenuous. (And yes, there might be rare exceptions where a man knew a woman was hired for demographic reasons. But to see a guy like Greg who doesn't have a job, and jump to the conclusion that it is because of woman, this simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny.)

DS

I agree with Amanda 100% here. Of course people have lost out on certain jobs because of demographic considerations. That is not the main culprit. State governments and college administrators are all too happy for you to direct your ire at 'diversity initiatives'. The reasons that tons of people like Greg are stuck in NTT positions, or adjunct positions, is because of state disinvestment from higher education. It is just that simple. The reason that Greg didn't even need a Ph.D. for his position is because before the 'great recession' it was possible to get a full time job at a 4 year school ABD or with only a masters; before the great recession, people who finished their PhD and were competent for the most part got tt jobs at 4 year schools. There's more students going to college now than 12 years ago yet there are less full time jobs. That's the problem. We should keep our eye on that problem because its the problem that requires a solution.

P.S. I am man who went to a mediocre program from the Leiter perspective.

postdoc

Amanda,

I'm confused. Did anyone claim that they know THE REASON they didn't get a job was because of demographics? It seemed (most?) people were just saying that this is a live factor related to one's chances. Greg pointed to other factors too: the scarcity of jobs and the narrowing of AOS/AOC. He seems to suggest his non-prestigious background is relevant as well. Others have also pointed to multiple non-meritocratic factors, not just demographics. It seems to be a straw man to paint those who are weary of demographic-based hiring as saying that demographics are the only factor.

Let's look at Joe's post in more detail. Joe says,

"We need to start being more honest about this, and I find it absurd that we continually dance around this point. While lots of variables contribute to job market failure, there is absolutely no chance that a woman or minority philosopher would have Greg's publication, teaching and outreach record and not already be on their way to tenure."

Joe admits that there are many factors but seems to suggest a counterfactual: If Greg had been a women or minority, then he would have gotten a TT job. So, is Joe saying that we know that Greg's being a white male was THE REASON he didn't get a job? Well, not exactly...

Let's look at an analogy. We might say, 'If Sam hadn't smoked so much, he wouldn't have gotten lung cancer.' Is this claim compatible with not knowing that THE REASON Sam got cancer was because he smoked? Yes. The counterfactual is true, if it's true, in virtue of many background factors: most relevantly, as far as we know, Sam's genetics. However, probably luck plays a role too, and probably myriad other factors that we don't even understand yet.

So, the counterfactual, 'If Greg had been a women or minority, then he would have gotten a TT job,' is compatible with there being many background factors relevant to the case. So, Joe isn't saying, as far as I can tell, that we know THE REASON Greg didn't get a TT job. He is only saying that we know one factor that if it were changed ceteris paribus, Greg would have gotten a TT job.

Now, admittedly, this counterfactual is too strong but it's about as reasonable as other things people say; for example, 'if Sam hadn't smoked, he wouldn't have gotten lung cancer.' This isn't really true or ever true probably, at least not if we want to be precise. There are going to be some close possible worlds in which Sam doesn't smoke and still gets cancer, or so it seems. Nevertheless, it's kind of easy to fix. We just need to add the world 'probably' to the counterfactual: If Sam hadn't smoked, he probably wouldn't have gotten lung cancer.

So, slightly modifying the original counterfactual, we can make the very reasonable claim that if Greg had been a women or minority, then he probably would have gotten a TT job.' This claim is compatible with there being many factors relevant to why he didn't get a job: lack of prestige, horrible job market, and so on. All these things contributed to why he didn't, in fact, get a job. If it's not clear why, consider this: We can also say that 'If Greg had been from NYU, then he probably would have gotten a TT job;' 'If Greg had worked in applied ethics, then he probably would have gotten a TT job; 'if Greg had been..." All these counterfactuals can be true.

Anyway, I understand why demographic-based hiring is a touchy issue. I personally think it's immoral and corrupt and will in the end make minorities and women worse off. One way it makes them worse off is that it actually creates more discrimination. Because demographic-based hiring occurs, white men, in the back of their minds, are likely to wonder whether the women or black philosopher they work with really deserved their job, is really any good, etc. I suspect many women today overhear whispers about how they aren't deserving. This is a sad state of affairs. You can't have equality and diversity in an environment in which different rules apply to different people.

Greg Stoutenburg

In reply to my previous comment, Amanda said: "Who are "we"? There is not any central body organizing what "we" are going to do...Things are not as simple as making some sort of nebulous collective decision." Sure, the issue won't be put to a vote. But like other social endeavors the participants' preferences and interests affect what others in the party are willing to endorse, similar to the way that we as a society determine what counts as swearing or cheating. Presently, as I think Amanda would grant given her last post, the philosophical culture at large endorses the view that a person’s identity can rightly be an important factor to consider in hiring decisions. That is the thing I said we must sort out, as to whether we think it is just.

I think Postdoc has the terms of the argument right: no one, at least in this thread, has come close to suggesting that being a woman is a sufficient condition for getting a tenure-track job. Certainly I have not suggested such a thing (and Amanda quite fairly notes that I have not suggested it), and I want to be recorded as saying that it is false and I do not believe it. There has been a concern raised here, however, about the relative advantages conferred to some job candidates and not to others on account of the candidate's identity, especially gender identity. It is striking that the only person who is not a white man who comes to the mind of many as a high-achiever with significant job market troubles is the indomitable Andrew Moon, a man. In anything resembling a system where candidates were chosen for interview without looking at hints of a person’s identity, someone like him would have been interviewed for nearly every position for which he applied in his area of expertise.

If we think that hiring for factors like a candidate’s identity is just and permissible, even morally obligatory—if we think that the goal, say, of diversity in philosophy hiring is itself a valuable end, rather than something that we hope to encourage by other means—then we should not be mourning results like mine, but *celebrating* them. I read a story in Vanity Fair some months ago (I can’t remember the title and Google is not helping at the moment) about a women’s-only art show in NYC, in which an artist was asked what she thought about the exclusion of men’s work, as so many men also struggle to make it in their chosen field. Her reply stuck with me. She said, “For women’s work to get noticed, some guys just won’t get shows” (or something within two or three words of that). As a matter of principle, she is of course correct. There are only so many galleries, only so many tenure-track positions. If certain end-results really are desirable in themselves, we should think of identity as a hiring factor the same way that we think of a candidate’s specialization as a factor.

I really want to stress that while identity, including gender identity, is a factor that I believe surely didn’t help me, it is a very long way from *the only* thing. My publications are not in Nous (and I almost never send papers up that high), I did not go to Michigan—nor would I have been admitted on my sharpest day—and I did not even try to haul my family all around the world to prioritize the best job over all else. I hope it is clear enough that the real surprise for me was simply that the checklist model of what it would take to do well on the market, what I now realize was, consistent with my background, a very first-gen way of thinking about reaching an objective, is a badly mistaken perspective.

Amanda

postdoc - I was referencing a long series of discussions here, over many years, not just this one. And my point was the constant pointing to the .65 stat can be misleading, because it is just one statistical point among many. It also doesn't seem to be the most relevant point.

Hence, no one is "dancing around" anything. There are just more relevant factors, when you take a real look at the numbers.

Side note: I am *not* in favor of preferential hiring.

Second - even if people do qualify their answer with the sort of things mentioned, it doesn't make sense to bring it up to the extent that people do, when there are other factors that are far more significant. People bring it up, all the time, with a sense of indignation, implying that this is a*major* factor that we should be especially concerned about. As DS says, however, we really should be concerned about other things, like:

1.Ensuring that we fight for funding for philosophy departments generally, whether it be private or governmental.
2 Ensuring that those who do not get TT jobs still get good pay and benefits.
3.Explaining to the public why philosophy departments matter (if they do...and rethinking our approach if they don't.)
4. Trying to figure out how grad students/programs can best handle the fact that a significant number of persons will not get steady academic employment. This might be by changing norms about alt-ac work, by reconsidering how many grad students are admitted, etc.

While I see 4 talked about some, I hardly ever see the other 3 discussed.

Let's make this simple According to the "stats" women got hired 225 times, men 457 = 682.

225/682 = 32.9%

With the reasonable assumption that all or nearly all jobs had both male and female applicants,

*2/3 search committees (with a choice between men and women) choose men*. So the female preference is not strong enough to hire a woman 2/3 times.

Maybe we should be talking about other things. (and yes, there are more male applicants, but for search committees the difference between 70 or 90 applications really just becomes noise. there are too many people on the market.)

Amanda

Greg - I agree there is a sense in which the culture accepts preferential hiring, but I don't think it is the majority. As I said, I don't support it myself. I also find it highly unlikely that there will ever be uniform agreement on the matter. People have been objecting to preferential hiring for a long time. Objecting loudly. Repeatedly. I would actually love for people to keep objecting, but in places that matter. Like their meeting with the dean. Instead all what we get is various blog posts that don't do anything but suggest that women getting hired accounts for far more of an explanation of the lack of men with jobs than it does. Women are a small percentage of the overall people on the market, men get hired far more frequently than women, as I explain above. The preference for women is something I wish didn't exist, but it is a much smaller factor in the overall hiring process than many people make it out to be.

As for people who have struggled on the market - it is true I don't know of any woman with a profile like Greg's that doesn't have a job. But I don't know any women with a profile like Greg's *at all.* Very few women do epistemology and metaphysics, and the ones I know that do with impressive publication records come from top programs. There are far more white men in philosophy than any other demographic, so if you ask for an example of anything in philosophy, of course it is easier to find a white man.

As for women struggling in the job market in general, yes, I know them.

Greg, I doubt publishing in Nous would have helped you. You published too well, not the opposite. I think it is *very* unfair that people from low-ranked programs are so often punished for publishing well, but I don't know how many example and discussions we have to have until people believe it.

Postdoc

"[B]ut it is a much smaller factor in the overall hiring process than many people make it out to be."

I'm not sure if this should be considered a small factor.

"The odds of women obtaining a permanent academic placement within two years is 65% greater than men when all else is held constant."

It certainly wouldn't be a small factor in empirical research.

Of course, people may be overestimating the factor. I really don't know. But it might also be that they are just really passionate about the issue.

This said, I agree that demographic-based hiring isn't the main problem for our profession. We have so many problems: jobs scarcity, prestige bias, cronyism, poor pay, long hours, rise of casual labor, a dysfunctional and really slow article review process, and on and on.


Amanda

Postdoc: .65 means nothing without knowing the total number of women on the market. For goodness sake that was the entire point of my post. That statistic by itself needs to be put into context to be meaningful.

If there were 3 women on the market (and 1500 plus men), and these 3 women were 400x more likely to get a job then men, this would still be a really small factor!!! The number of women on the market is small, and so even though women are more likely to get a job, search committees still choose men 2 out of 3 times.

Amanda

to be clear, I am not suggesting .65 is statistically insignificant. I am suggesting that preference for women is a small factor in explaining the large number of talented men without jobs.

postdoc

You really can't look at the raw demographic numbers to get a feel for the 65% stat. They held first reported AOS constant and maybe other things too, and they looked at placement within 2 years, not total placement.

The demographic totals do not show such a strong preference for women--although it does show a preference--with about 48% of women securing permanent jobs and 38% of men.

Look no one is saying that this factor is the only factor. I don't even think it's the main factor. Obviously, the main factor is that there are way too many PhDs for the jobs available, and this applies across the sexes.

However, at the same time, I think calling this a small factor is misleading and just strange. I get your point about if the number of women were very low. But there are 466 women in their overall sample, so it's not like we're talking about a handful of jobs here.

Another Postdoc

I just wanted to say thanks, to Amanda, for her careful discussion of the numbers.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Writing Service


Categories