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08/03/2020

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Rosa

I think that having relevant life experience can help you, and depending on what you did before your PhD, you might be in a good position here. Did you work in some kind of industry that would give you insight into stuff in your AOS? That might make you a much better researcher, or better able to collaborate with folks in other disciplines. Did you have a non-traditional path, and do you BA/BS later in life while supporting a family and working full time? That might help you connect with and support students who are working full-time, having caring responsibilities, etc - and at a huge number of schools, these students make up a big chunk of the student body. I'd highlight all of that, and show why the experience you've got is a benefit to their department, rather than trying to do anything to mitigate worries about age *itself*. Good luck!

Aragorn

I have heard explicitly ageist reasoning from a faculty member on a hiring committee (note though that this was in a natural science department, not philosophy). Their argument was something like this: "Younger candidates are still to "blossom", i.e., hit their productive stride. And if they do so while being a member of our faculty, then we get the prestige and reputation and (crucially in the sciences) grant money. So even if a younger candidate doesn't quite have the same experience or publication record as an older candidate, one can expect them to do their best work while being one of us, while the older candidates' best work might already be past them."

I know this kind of reasoning sucks, and I hate it, but I'm sorry to say it's out there.

Prof L

I would think that 40s would not be a huge issue—I mean, most of us are in our 30s when we get our PhDs, people also move around, etc., will they really even know how old you are? I can't tell a 43 year old from a 37 year old. I think it would start to hurt you around 50-60. It's a bummer, but I've seen older folks struggle on the market in humanities disciplines, despite having excellent research profiles.

historygrrrl

This is obviously really anecdotal, but my friends who went on the market as 'older' candidates - say, aged 35-50 - did *better* than the younger folks.

In some ways, it makes sense. Departments want somebody who is going to be a professional colleague, and it's hard to come off that way when you're 27 and don't know how to locate, purchase, and wear professional attire. Philosophy involves teaching, and faculty/deans are sometimes weirded out that the job candidate looks younger than the students. (At places with non-trad and grad students, I usually was.)

Philosophy is also one of the disciplines where many researchers improve with age. In virtue of being older and likely more mature, you may have a better dissertation and writing sample. There's a reason why people keep doing this stuff well into their 80s and even the emeritus faculty still want to read/write/talk philosophy.

Anon TT

My sense from being a search committee member is that it really just depends on the candidate and their file. Age is a factor in what a CV looks like, and I think reasonable people tend to make holistic assessments. Age alone might not matter (it certainly doesn't to me), but if a candidate had only 1 publication and was in their 40s, took 10 years to finish the PhD without a reasonable explanation that can be determined from the file, I'd have concerns.

For what it's worth, I landed my first TT job at 27 and I knew how to locate, purchase, and wear professional attire. One might worry that there is ageism going the other way sometimes, too, as I have experienced at conferences. My young age might have also been a strike against me for some schools where I interviewed, especially those with grad programs that had a bunch of students far older than me. So it might be an advantage for some schools and a disadvantage at others, again depending on the candidate and their file.

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