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11/04/2021

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on the market

I don't know about the wider community, but I tend to submit my materials pretty close to the application deadline (circumstances permitting).

I don't do this out of disorganization (quite the opposite), but because I want to maximize the chance that my CV will improve before the submission deadline (maybe that article under review is going to get an acceptance or an R&R the day before my application deadline).

If a good number of people are like me, then you'd expect a flood of applications close to the deadline, and relatively few beforehand. Again, just my take.

TT

Came here to say the same thing that "on the market" did. When I was on the market 2 and 3 years ago, I submitted basically all of my applications only a day or two before the deadline.

open sesame

This is my second time on the job market. I cast a wide net last year, applying for all jobs with open AOS. This year, I am submitting applications to only those jobs with a perfect fit. Maybe other applicants are doing the same thing this year?? I also second "on the market" that I submit my application at the very last minute. Hoping to improve my CV in some ways..

anonymous tenure track at R1

November 1 is the most common job application deadline. If you have one due after that, I wouldn't expect to get applications until (sometimes well) after Nov 1, since people are exhausted from getting apps in for that date and might want to give themselves a break before applying for jobs with later dates. Also, what "on the market" says seems right to me. We typically get somewhere between 75%-90% (I'd estimate) of our applications in the 24 hours before the deadline.

Conrad

I can't speak for other areas, but many of the job ads in my sub-discipline are for "niche" categories rather than "mainstream" ones. I think there's an explanation. Increasingly, it seems, the kind of hire that the philosophy department needs to make is decided administratively rather at the faculty-level. Correspondingly, job ads increasingly reflect what administrators find interesting about philosophy rather than what philosophers find interesting about philosophy. Because ABDs are more philosopher than administrator, are more likely to research philosophical questions that philosophers find interesting rather than the ones that administrators find interesting. This creates a mismatch between what jobs are looking for and what ABDs can offer.

Bill Vanderburgh

Our search for a t-track Ancient Philosopher (Nov. 1 best consideration date) also received fewer applications than expected, just 53 that met minimum qualifications. We had chalked it up to Ancient being a smaller field and the fact that we have a preference for less-commonly taught AOCs, and those are, well, less common.

on the market

to the question-asker: would you be willing to write back when the deadline closes with an update on whether you (or your friend at your old department) indeed got less applications than you were expecting, once all the apps are in? Curious minds want to know!

Question-asker

To on the market: Sure; I don't know if I can do it right after our deadline passes, but I'm happy to give an update as soon as I can.

Mike Titelbaum

At UW-Madison we are advertising two jobs, one in Metaphysics and one in Ethics of Computing, Data, and Information. The application deadlines were Nov 1. A huge share of the applications came in right around the deadline. Nevertheless, the numbers felt light early on in the process (compared to where they usually are at that stage), and when all was said and done still wound up lighter than usual. So yes, there seems to be something going on, but I don’t know what it is.

Also on the market

Sort of keying off of Conrad, I wonder if it's a combination of the following factors: 1) extreme fatigue and burnout from PhD students 'post'-covid, 2) a relatively large chunk of the jobs that are being advertised are over-specific in their AOS and a seemingly disproportionate amount are in social philosophy of some sort, 3) there are major segments of the broader, non-philosophical job market that can't find workers and perhaps this is correlated here in some way, 4) at what point does the philosophical job market with its near-impossible demands and likelihood of extremely low financial reward (if any) start losing its appeal on a mass scale?

womp womp

Came here to say what Conrad and ‘Also on the market’ said.

The vast majority of job ads ask for some kind of social philosophy. If you’re on the market now (or looking to move) it was probably still fashionable to work in traditional LEMM back when you started your dissertation. So, not that many people will have the right AOS/AOC for these. I’ve also noticed a substantial uptick in ads for a strange combination of AOS/AOC. You’d be hard pressed to find many (if any) candidates with e.g. AOS Kant, philosophy of AI AOC Latinx philosophy, bioethics, formal epistemology. Ads like this will probably not get many applicants. The same happens in ads with AOS/AOC in more than one historical area. There are high barriers for entry into historical areas of philosophy due to additional language/historical training and finding a candidate with serious specialization/competence in just 1 is hard enough without asking for 2. This is especially true if one of the areas is a non-Western tradition.

I wish more departments understood the cost of organizing job ads like this. I realize that teaching needs are teaching needs, searches can go in a number of directions, and a handful of applicants will probably still apply despite not being a perfect fit for the ad, but the sudden over-emphasis on social/non-Western philosophy when there aren’t many jobs to begin with means that a vast portion of talented applicants who deserve to stay in philosophy (including POC who don’t work in social philosophy) will be shut out and probably end up leaving for an entirely arbitrary reason. As a minority, this has been an incredibly frustrating thing to experience. Listing “social philosophy” in every single job ad is not a DEI catch-all replacement for not being able to recruit minoritized candidates. I also worry that it encourages people with no interest or stakes in questions about gender, race, non-Western traditions etc. to start working in these areas simply because they think it will increase their chances.

Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the past 1.5 years of professional philosophy blogs engaging in idle fear-mongering and catastrophizing about job market collapse, hiring freezes, and defunded philosophy departments motivated some people to seek employment outside of academia.

Some random person

Hi Mike Titelbaum, thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, were the numbers light for both the Metaphysics position and the Ethics of Computing, Data, and Information position? I wouldn't be surprised if the latter didn't have many applicants (simply because I don't think many people specialize in that), but if the Metaphysics ad didn't get as many applicants as expected, that would surprise me.

Disillusioned

I just wanted to chime in to say that "womp womp" did a perfect job of expressing what my friends and I on the job market have been talking about for weeks. The sudden emphasis on certain social philosophy subfields does not at all match the research areas of the current crop of job seekers. This problem seems so obvious and easy to remedy from the perspective of the job seekers, which makes it really frustrating to see hiring committees completely fail to grasp it-- especially when this oversight may very well be the reason my peers and I are forced out of the profession.

Lemming

Another bummed LEMM person here who thinks there's a real problem identified by Conrad, Also on the market, womp womp, and disillusioned. (Maybe worth having a separate thread on this?)

Obviously it's not the a rigorous methodology, but the following might give people a sense of it.

A philjobs search for TT jobs since July 1st gives 167 results. Here are the numbers of results within those for various keywords:

race - 77
gender - 71
technology - 33
non-western - 31

mind - 25
language - 24
epistemology - 19
metaphysics - 18

18 and 19 sounds pretty bad, at least in comparison to the trendy topics, but it's actually worse than you might think. Looking into the epistemology results, for example, most of them have a requirement for some other AOS and/or at least a preference for a race/gender/technology/non-western/indigenous philosophy AOC. The only ones that don't are:
* a massively disjunctive search at UC Irvine
* an open rank logic/epistemology/metaphysics search at MIT
* a search that requires teaching in French
* an open search at NYU
* an epistemology/mind/language search at Indiana Bloomington.

I don't have a view on whether an area supply/demand issue is a significant part of the explanation of low application numbers this year. But it is making it more likely I'll leave the field for some other profession, since it seems like my skills are not valued in philosophy academia.

I'm sure some philosophers will have no qualms about most of a generation of LEMM specialists being cleared out, but I hope most will see this as a problem. It's not clear what can or should be done about it, though.

Here's one suggestion: for schools that just want undergrad teaching in the trendy areas, don't make it an antecedent AOC requirement/preference, but instead require willingness to learn to teach in those areas. One doesn't need to be anything like a specialist to teach a good undergrad course, and frankly I think there are few areas where a summer of work couldn't bring one up to an adequate speed. So why not be open to hiring one of the abundant excellent philosophers who don't yet have experience in the relevant area and have them acquire the relevant teaching competence once you've hired them?

anonymous tenure track at R1

I feel bad for people who do "core" LEMM on the market who don't have these other competencies, but I think there is a misunderstanding, at least from an R1 perspective (and many of the jobs advertised this year are R1 jobs), about how AOS and AOCs are shaped from the hiring dept perspective. At least at my R1, we are thinking about *research* primarily, not teaching competencies. I suspect this is true most places. (We never advertise specific AOCs in part for this reason, though I don't think there should be a ban on it!)

Even if a department like mine had specific teaching needs (which we do), we wouldn't want to hire someone who *could* teach those things but didn't work on them. Reasons why: (1) we basically have free say over what we teach, so promising that one "can" or "will" teach something that is obviously not what one is interested in is... usually a recipe for the person then never teaching the course or rarely teaching it. My experience is this is fairly common at research-oriented universities (people have a lot of say over what they teach). (2) The whole point of an R1 university with respect to teaching is that students are trading a strong focus on teaching qua teaching for being taught by serious *experts* in the specific subfield that they are being taught. (3) Our graduate program needs are typically prioritized over undergraduate programs, and we especially don't want someone who doesn't have a very strong background in a particular topic teaching it, or advising dissertations, there.

But perhaps trumping all of this is that it's often *not* teaching needs that dictate what areas we hire in. They certainly play a role. However, more often it's "what are we missing that fits in with our vision of what kind of research-focused department we want to have". We also have to pitch a hire to our admin, and, while they don't tell us what to hire in, I believe they would be less likely to approve (in our case--this varies!) "more of what we already have" which includes lots of LEMM type philosophy, and more likely to give us a line for "things that make contact with other disciplines in the college and university, and which are more relevant to... something!".

All that being said, (a) I am really, genuinely sorry this is happening to people and (b) I agree with some, but not all, of what womp womp says--though I think the departments that tend to combine very specific AOSs and AOCs are often not R1s, and I don't know as much about how things work there.

Also, I'm not so sure it would be a bad thing if people were forced to start working in--at least in the sense of developing a strong competency in--non-Western, race, gender, etc.--there's always *something* or some set of things that's treated as canonical background, and I think what we're seeing is a slow shift in what that is. But that being said I agree that there should still be space for people to work in more abstract topics in LEMM! For sure.

wasn't R1

R1
Thanks. You give a great "look behind the curtain" at how R1s function. I think many people should realize that they are a culture apart from typical 4 year state colleges.

LB

@Lemming: Your numbers for "race" and "gender" jobs are likely quite inflated. Many job ads include a equal opportunity/affirmative action statement, where "race" and/or "gender" are mentioned. See, e.g., this ad for a Phil Mind job that contains such a statement, and thus also pops up when doing a keyword search for "gender" or "race": https://philjobs.org/job/show/18857. Ads with words like "embrace" (e.g. https://philjobs.org/job/show/18761) also show up when doing a keyword search for "race."

dcw

I'd like to second the call for a separate thread on the issue of the seemingly outsized number of jobs in social philosophy this year. A lot of good points have already been made, but it would be nice to have a place to dive in deeper without completely hijacking this thread. A couple issues I'd like to hear from others on: What pressures are leading to so many social philosophy ads and for which sorts of institutions are those pressures most salient (e.g., undergrad enrollment numbers, departmental research profile, administrator demands, etc.)? How is the current interest in social philosophy interacting with what some perceive to be a toxic culture within those subdisciplines? (I'm not interested in discussing whether or not such people would be right about the toxicity. I'm interested in understanding if/how perceptions of toxicity in these subdisciplines are limiting the applicant pool for these jobs.)

Lemming

Thanks to anonymous tenure track at R1 for the insights.

And good point, LB, I was misled by it being called 'keyword' search. I think you're right that the actual numbers are probably much lower than 70s from above, but I don't know a good way to get a good estimate of how much lower without going through all the ads by hand.

But in any case it remains true that there are very few jobs this year for epistemology or metaphysics that don't have at least a preference for a gender/race/non-western/tech AOC.

Should have been writing

I’m following up on Lemming's comments about (roughly) how many TT jobs this season are aimed at candidates working in race/gender/non-western/tech. I’ve just crunched some numbers using PhilJobs’ data. These number are more precise, I believe, but of course still imperfect.

I downloaded the PhilJobs data, imported it into Excel, included only jobs posted from 1 July, 2021, through 10 Nov, 2021, and included only "Tenure-track or similar", "Tenured, continuing or permanent", and "Contract type open" contract types. (I included the latter, since most of those were open rank or permanent teaching positions. But there weren't many of these.)

This yielded 205 jobs.

Some of the search terms below are partial words, but I used wildcards in the searches.

If the job ad's AOS *or* AOC had the words "race“, "gender“, "non-western“, “eastern” or several other terms arguably associated with those terms, I flagged the job as "gender/race/non-western/etc". (I won't list all of the search terms here, but this is data anyone can download and analyse for themselves.)

If the job ad's AOS *or* AOC had the words "social" or "politic", I flagged the job as "social/political".

If the job ad's AOS *or* AOC had the words "techno“, "artificial”, or a few other similar terms, I flagged the job as "tech".

Here are the numbers:

53 jobs (26% of total) - gender/race/non-western/etc

41 jobs (20% of total) - social/political

79 jobs (39% of total) - combining the two categories above together, but *without* double-counting (i.e., if a job ad has both flags, it's counted only once)

20 jobs (10% of total) - tech

This is still pretty imprecise. For one thing, this classifies a job as, e.g., social/political if *either* the AOS *or* AOC includes "social" or "politic". But, obviously, sometimes the areas listed in the AOC don't justify classifying the job as those areas.

Zarathustra

Imagine being forced to develop a competency in non-Western, race, or gender (per an earlier suggestion in this thread). Philosophy is quickly gearing up to be just another humanities field. The suggestion would be unthinkable 6 years ago.

Around 2016 was when I felt the tide shift, and I think it has something to do with Trump era and post-Trump era anxieties.

Analytic philosophy, as we knew and loved it, is dead. We are just living in its shadow.

Beware the Ides of March

Zarathustra
Do not kid yourself ...
there are prejudices against white males writing on feminist, against white people in general writing on non-Western cultures ...
So these jobs are a bit like jobs at small Catholic colleges that are really set on hiring a good Catholic. That is why they ask questions about Thomism or Maritain (who is Maritain?). It allows them to sort people - you cannot easily see who is Catholic.

postdoc10

I would just like to flag that we can be worried about the detrimental effects of this sudden shift in job ads into social/political areas without thinking that the shift itself is bad, or that it somehow reflects “reverse discrimination” against white men.

Here are some compatible claims:
1. It is good to have more work done in philosophy of race and gender, non-western philosophy, etc., as they are deeply important topics.

2. It is bad to have a bunch of excellent philosophers forced to leave the profession while searches fail and positions go unfilled.

Perhaps we could develop strategies for helping those of us caught in the change of emphasis in the field, e.g., less stringent AOS/AOC requirements, additional years of funding coupled with different training (e.g., summer bootcamps in social philosophy like the bioethics bootcamp Penn used to run).

Mostly, I just want to flag that one can be as left or “woke” as one wants (I aim for high degrees of both) without thinking that what we are seeing here is a good idea. And also, not everyone here worried about these things is worried that diversity initiatives (whether for diversity of thought or demographics) are inherently bad.

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