Friday, October 2, 2015

Philosophers' Cocoon Mentoring Project

Helen De Cruz and Marcus Arvan of the Philosophers' Cocoon have started a job-market mentoring program that is open to everyone, in order to help meet the needs of people who aren't eligible for this other awesome mentoring program.

You can find details here.

I think this is pretty cool, and I am grateful to Helen and Marcus for doing this. I've also been pretty impressed by their Job Market Boot Camp series. A lot of good stuff is happening at the PC these days. Get over there and check it out.

--Mr. Zero

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sleeping with Your Students is Not Great Pedagogy

I've been struggling to read and digest this recent article in the New Republic by Laura Miller, entitled "Lust for Learning." It's hard to pin down exactly what the thesis is supposed to be, but it appears to go somewhat beyond the claim that total bans on faculty/student romantic involvement, even in the absence of a direct supervisory relationship, are unjustified overreactions that go too far. (If I understand it correctly, I agree that Harvard's new policy is an unjustified overreaction that goes too far.)

Instead, Miller seems to suggest that you can help your students learn by engaging in flirtation with them, and also by pursuing romantic and sexual relationships with them. "Bans on faculty-student relationships amount to an institutional throwing up of the hands when it comes to parsing the difference between an intense pedagogic experience and a manipulative seduction," she says. Administrations don't want to be bothered to distinguish manipulative abuses of power, which would be wrong, from the use of sexuality as pedagogy, which she seems to think is ok, or even to be encouraged. "Perhaps what makes pedagogy so potent also makes it inherently erotic," she says.

That is amazingly silly.

I don't feel like writing an actual essay about this, so instead I'm going to list off some quotes and make fun of them and stuff. Here goes.
  • The first pullquote reads: "Perhaps it’s possible to separate the thrill of encountering a fascinating mind from the fizz of libido, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to."
    • This is just an egregious failure of imagination. I can think of lots of reasons one might have for wanting to separate one's studies from the fizz of one's libido:
      1. I find it easier to concentrate on my work when I'm not experiencing the fizz of libido. I find the fizz of libido to be somewhat distracting, and so I mostly try to avoid it when I'm working.
      2. I am happily married, and I'd like to stay that way. I think it would cause problems for me if I went around openly experiencing the fizz of libido with my students.
      3. I don't really want to fizz my libido at my students, even apart from the fact that doing so would blow up my family. I'm just not interested. They're usually very young, and a lot of them are not the right gender for me, and anyways that's not why I got into this business.
      4. For that matter, I am pretty sure my students don't want me fizzing my libido at them. I'm old, and they're in college, and they have their own shit going on. I think there's a decent chance that any fizzing I might attempt would come off poorly. I think there's a decent chance they'd see it as creepy and weird, rather than an intense but effective way to approach the course material. 
      5. I have many friends and professional acquaintances who I like and respect, and who I think like and respect me. If I went around fizzing my libido at them whenever I bump into them at conferences and in email correspondences and stuff, I think some of them might find it bothersome. I think it might affect the degree to which they like and/or respect me.
  • I found it very weird how little attention Miller paid to the possibility that a professor engaged in a flirtation, even if it were initially welcome, might attempt to take unfair advantage of situation. Or, might do so accidentally. It is, I think, undeniable that professors wield authority over their students, and it is also undeniable that this authority can be abused, and it is similarly undeniable that one purpose to which this abuse of authority can be put is the acquisition of sexual favors from unwilling pupils. But Miller seems awfully sure that the student and the professor will be equally willing to fizz their libidos at one another, and that they will be on the same page about the quantity and manner of the fizzing, as well as the desired commitment level (i.e. level of exclusivity, length of term, etc). Although she acknowledges the possibility that problems might arise, she doesn't seem to be terribly concerned about them.
  • The obvious possibility that professors might abuse their power is at least part of the reason why I share Justin's puzzlement about the use of recent examples from philosophy to support greater levels of permissiveness in this domain. I would have guessed that, at the very least, the two highest-profile philosophy cases of the past few years represent an object lesson in what can go wrong with these kinds of relationships. 
    • Take the McGinn case. Even if you believe everything Colin McGinn says about the relationship and its aftermath (which, to be clear, I do not)--that the relationship was entirely consensual; that it was a strictly "intellectual" romance, whatever that is; that he was only kidding about the sex and the handjob; that she failed to do a bunch of work he'd assigned her; that she only went to the administration after he gave her a deservedly poor performance review; and that she lied to them about the nature of their relationship in order to get revenge--you have to admit that he handed her all the tools she needed to detonate his career. He obliterated his own ability to effectively supervise his research assistant by doing a bunch of the stuff that someone who was abusing his authority would do. 
      • Which is why these kinds of flirtations are unavoidably risky for the professors, too. Administrations must be vigilant against the very real risk that professors will abuse their power (the possibility of which, to emphasize, means that these flirtations are also risky for the students). Obviously this grants power to the students, and this power can also be abused. A student could file a false accusation and destroy one's career. But one makes things much easier for a would-be career destroyer if one send a bunch of libido fizz via email and text message.
      • But this risk does not stem from the fact that feminist ideologues and their Title IX are running amok; it's an inherent byproduct of allowing students to report potential abuses of power. 
      • (And, because he had the authority of a direct supervisory relationship, he also obliterated his ability to know that he wasn't abusing his authority. How did he know that she wasn't just playing along in order to keep him happy? He didn't.)
  • I was not sure what lesson I was supposed to draw from the discussion of the case of Abélard and Héloïse. The penalties for Abélard's alleged misbehaviors have obviously been lightened considerably; it's hard to imagine that Miller wouldn't see this as progress. ;-)
    • Also. I'm no expert on this topic, but Miller's rendition of the story is different from the version I heard. I am somewhat out of my depth here, and I would be happy to hear corrections in comments, but I think Miller's telling of the story is a whitewash. I quote a key passage of Miller's telling of the story below, with my remarks inserted [in square brackets]:
He [Abélard] finagled his way into her [Héloïse’s] uncle’s house by agreeing to instruct Héloïse in exchange for lodging. [Ok. So far, so good.] Their love led to her pregnancy [it's not clear what happened to the baby. Their subsequent correspondence doesn't mention him.] and a secret marriage [it was Abélard’s idea to keep the marriage a secret, because he thought it would hurt his career if it was widely known that he was married. Héloïse didn't want to get married at all at first, but Abélard talked her into it], but Héloïse’s uncle remained angry at Abelard’s betrayal (and perhaps believed he was about to discard her, thereby disgracing their family) [Héloïse’s uncle publicized the marriage in order to hurt Abélard, and then Héloïse denied that they were married. That's when Abélard sent her into hiding at a convent--he said it was because he was worried about her safety--and the fact that he sent her away to the convent is why the uncle thought he was going to dump her], so he [the uncle] had a group of thugs break into Abélard’s room and castrate him. [I honestly can't see this as anything but a bummer.] Abélard became a monk and urged Héloïse to become a nun. [Abélard made her become a nun against her will.] 
    • This is a fucked up story. But, as you can see, Miller's telling omits a bunch of details, and these are mostly events in which one of the men in the story ignores Héloïse’s wishes and forces her to do something against her will, or persuades her to do something she'd rather not--and most of the time it was Abélard, not the uncle, who did this. With one key exception, Abélard got whatever he wanted. They responded to each situation his way, and if Héloïse didn't agree with him he either talked her into it or made her do it anyway. 
    • So, I have trouble seeing this as an example of the good old days, when female students were treated as the competent adults who are capable of making their own decisions that they obviously are. Every time Héloïse makes her wishes known, she is overruled. 
    • And I can't help but feel like Héloïse’s life was substantially derailed by her affair with Abélard. It seems to me that Héloïse’s education might have been a little more of a positive experience for her if she and Abélard had kept their fizzy libidos in check.
    • Also, the great love affair of Abélard and Héloïse was not thwarted by a bunch of overzealous, Title IX-thumping Social Justice Warriors. The people who got in the way were her family. He was castrated by her uncle's goons, not the president of Harvard.
    • (Also, apparently people find this story tragically romantic or something, but I have no idea what's romantic about it. I don't see it at all. These two start a secret affair; her family makes them break up, but they keep having the secret affair anyway; she gets pregnant; they get secret married; her family doesn't keep the secret; he sends her away; her family cuts his balls off; they both join different monasteries and write passionate letters and never discuss their child. The people who think that's romantic probably think Romeo and Juliet is romantic.)
  • Miller says, "One woman’s ordeal is another’s adventure, a chance to flaunt her ability to beguile the teacher whose lectures leave her spellbound." Seems like she's mostly thinking about female students and their male professors. She mentions a couple of cases in which female professors engage in fizzy pedagogy with their female students, but if she thinks male students might benefit from fizzing with their professors, she doesn't seem to say so. I wonder why that is? 
  • The beginning and ending of the final paragraph says: "It is an excess of caution that makes the vulnerabilities of a community’s most fragile members the benchmark for everyone else’s sexual choices, but university administrators are probably not losing any sleep over the chilling effect the new conduct codes will have on their faculties’ love lives. ... One woman’s ordeal is another’s adventure ... It’s up to the faculty to see if they can determine which is which. They’re supposed to be the grown-ups, after all."
    • Wait. I thought the students were supposed to be grown ups, too. Are they, or aren't they?
    • Look. I know lots of people who have dated their students. I know few who ended up marrying a former student--someone they met in a class they were teaching. In several cases I know about, a mutual attraction between a professor and a student that began in the classroom grew into a healthy long-term relationship in which wedding vows were subsequently exchanged. (Of course, a few of these people are now divorced, but not all of them are, and lots of marriages end in divorce, and I have no basis for thinking that the prof/student thing played any role in the divorces.) I think it's possible for these relationships to be healthy and fruitful, and I respect the autonomy of the adults involved to make their own decisions about their own love lives, and so I oppose prohibiting faculty/student altogether. 
    • But Miller is making a much stronger claim than this. Although she's making that claim, she's also making another, much more contentious, much less plausible claim: that you may cultivate your students' academic interest in the material by cultivating (or at least not discouraging) their sexual interest in you, and that this is a legitimate and effective pedagogical approach. I have no idea why anyone would think that this is a good idea. 
      • "How do you cultivate student interest in the material?" "Well, I let them know that I'm hot in a smart kind of way, and that makes the ideas seem kind of hot, too. It's my natural sexual charisma and my fizzy libido. It's like they're having a ménage with me and the ontological argument. It's very effective."
  • So, I can't help but see this as a really bad article whose main point is totally wrong. 
--Mr. Zero

Monday, August 31, 2015

Why I Keep Doing This To Myself

As job market season approaches, I find that it is natural to wonder why I would keep doing this to myself. I'm not from an elite graduate program, and I'm getting old and stale. The odds of success were never all that great, and they're not getting better.

Many years ago, when I first started Smoking, I considered this question. At that time, I said,
I keep doing this to myself because I love my job. Over the summer I snagged a VAP. It's a lot of teaching (only 2 preps, though!), a lot of students, not much money (twice what I made last year, though), and located in a part of the country I would not otherwise have opted for. Nevertheless, I get up in the morning and go to work and it doesn't feel like work. I like being in the classroom. I like introducing people to philosophy and teaching them how to do it. (I do not like grading their initial efforts.) I like thinking about philosophical problems, doing philosophical research, and writing philosophy papers. 
So, one thing I've learned being in this job is that I really like this kind of job. I like being a professor, and I like it when I read a good paper from a student and I can think, I taught this person how to do this. I like the feeling I get when I clearly identify a philosophical problem, work my way through it, and develop a plausible solution. 
All I want is to be able to keep doing this.
I find that this is all still true. Some days feel a little like work, of course. But mostly I feel like the only difference between then and now is that I've learned a lot about teaching, and I've published some stuff I'm proud of, and I've got some other stuff under review that I'm also proud of, and I've attended a bunch of conferences and department colloquia and given a bunch of talks that I've greatly enjoyed, and I've made a lot of friends. And I want to keep doing that.

And, I've discovered that I'm at least a little good at this. And I don't really know how to do anything else. So what else am I going to do? I keep my eyes peeled for other opportunities--non-teaching jobs that I'd be good at and which would make sense in other ways--but nothing has really materialized. One time an opportunity came up in the administration that I think I was well-suited for (though it didn't pay much more), but before I could do anything about it, I had to prep for class and I realized how much I'd miss teaching if I didn't get to do it anymore, so I let it go.

And, I see this as an important job. I see the classes I teach as an important part of a good, well-rounded University education that the students at this institution should have. There's the oft-touted critical thinking skills, of course, but I also address ideas from the past that educated people should know about, and demonstrate how to engage with foundational issues that lie at the bottom of a wide variety of other, otherwise unrelated intellectual endeavors. How to think effectively about weird things.

And it's not like I have absolutely no luck on the job market. I get interviews, and sometimes I get invited to campus. I get no offers, of course. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why not. I don't know why not.

And my current position is pretty okay, as these things go. It's relatively stable, and it's much less exploitative than some of the positions I see advertised. The other members of my family are pretty well-situated. Nothing's ideal, but nothing's terrible.

And my family is supportive. I've known people whose families were not supportive, and it's a difficult bummer. I'm lucky.

And I feel like it would be stupid to sit out, and not go on the job market, even though I hate it and I doubt it will work. It's not that hard for me to go on the market--I've been out here a long time, and I've got it pretty down. Seems like I stand to lose more by not doing it than by doing it.

So, I guess that's why. I feel like I stand to lose more by not doing it.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to do about the Phylo jobs wiki?

David Morrow, co-founder of the Phylo job wiki with Chris Sula, writes in to ask about whether people would like to continue using the current platform or migrate it elsewhere. He says (emphasis added):
Since someone submitted the first job of the year to the Phylo job wiki, and someone else asked about wikis on the job-info thread, I thought this would be a good time for people to discuss whether they would like to continue using the Phylo wiki or would rather migrate to something else, like I'll continue to maintain the Phylo wiki if people want to use it, but I know that some people would prefer that the community use something else, and such a decision is hard to reverse once the job market is really under way.
What do y'all think?

-- Jaded, Ph.D. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reluctantly Crouched at the Starting Line Again Already

In comments here, Lost points out that "it has begun"--the first tenure-track job ad of the '15/'16 job-market season has been posted.

I find that with each passing year I have a harder time getting myself motivated to tackle the job market. Not that I was ever excited about it. But I used to feel a sense of anticipation and interest in seeing which were going to advertise and which ads I could apply for. Not this year, though. This year I feel a mix of dread and apathy.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I am not ready.

--Mr. Zero

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A NEW Permanent Thread to Talk or Ask or Post Information about Specific Jobs (6/27/15)

[REDUX] A lot of people in the comments seem interested in having space to discuss or request information about specific jobs. If providing information and if possible, please provide the source of your information.

Here's a permanent thread for this. Perhaps we can use the other open threads for people to trade horror or success or weird stories, any hints that they might think are helpful, strategies for dealing with stress of the job market, etc. [I'll try to get an open thread up soon.]

In the future, after this isn't at the top of the page, you can find this thread in the sidebar. Here's a picture, with the place to find this thread in the future.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Academic Saints

Jason Brennan's (Georgetown) continued punching down of adjuncts, including a post in which he and others fisk the CV of the subject of a Huffington Post piece about adjuncts (see her response here), has me thinking about the ideal of the "Academic Saint." This is in part because Susan Wolf's "Moral Saints" is one of my favorite philosophy articles, and also because Brennan invokes Peter Singer's Greater Moral Evil Principle in a blog post in which he combs over the career decisions of someone he doesn't know and with whom he doesn't share a field.

I guess this is what speaking truth to power looks like these days.

Anyway. Back to the idea of the academic saint. I've adapted the first paragraph of Wolf (1982) for my purposes here:
I don't know whether there are any [academic saints]. But if there are, I am glad that neither I nor those about whom I care most are among them. By [academic saint] I mean a person whose every action is as [academically inclined] as possible, that is, who is as [tenure-track or tenure worthy] as can be. Though I shall in a moment acknowledge the variety of types of person that might be thought to satisfy this description, it seems to me that none of these types serve as unequivocally compelling personal ideals. In other words, I believe that [academic perfection], in the sense of [academic saintliness], does not constitute a model of personal well-being toward which it would be particularly rational or good or desirable for a human being to strive.
Admittedly, my borrowing from Wolf is a bit out of place. She's concerned with the ways in which a life dominated by particularly moral ideals is a life that fails to recognize non-moral sources of value and non-moral sources of reasons for acting. This ideal leaves out non-moral motivations--and in her later work, non-self-interested motivations--that are part of a life with meaning. We find something troublesome, she argues, with the person who, in contemplating any possible action, always applies for permission from morality before undertaking that action. Moral reasons for action are not just seen as one set of reasons among many, but as a higher set of reasons to which all non-moral reasons are subordinate.

So, for example, given that social justice issues other than those related to adjuncts/contingents appear more pressing from the point of view of the moral saint, we are, in the words of the bleeding-heart Brennan:
quite literally yanking resources away from deeper concerns of social justice when they didn’t have to. They may talk the hard leftist talk, but their actions indicate they care more about themselves than they care about social justice.
A moral saint committed to such unsubtle comparison, such dispassionate ranking of their projects, and such submission to morality, can be seen as "missing a piece of perceptual machinery" or as committed to "an extreme form of self-hatred that interferes with…ability to enjoy life."

Wolf, though, has less of a problem with the ways in which commitments other than those to morality may come to dominate a life. A commitment, say, to developing a nasty crossover, is less problematic than organizing one's life around a moral ideal if that commitment is seen as winning out in a fair competition among other possible commitments, rather than being considered a type of ur-commitment to which all other reasons for acting must submit.

Is the academic saint more like the moral saint, or more like the person who has devoted themselves to lighting up the NBA?

I guess it's pretty obvious what I think. I see a problematic commitment to academic saintliness implicit in Brennan's posts--and the philosophy-blogosphere's own predilection for CV fisking. Here's what I have in mind (n.b.: I won't raise questions about another problem I see with this activity, namely, The Underdetermination of One's Academic Pursuits and Commitments by the CV; though such concerns are in the background too).

Brennan sees a (possible) lack of research or a (possible) commitment to teaching over research or a (possible) commitment to obscure or hard-to-market research or a (possible) commitment to a certain geographic region as academic mistakes. To see these commitments or actions as academic mistakes is to assume that one's field of research or commitment to teaching or preferences about where to live must be approved by the tribunal of reasons in favor of being as tenure-track or tenure worthy as possible. So long as we act for reasons other than those suggested by a commitment to getting a tenure-track job, we are making academic mistakes (or, in one of Brennan's colorful analogies: willfully eating poopburgers).

More strongly, it seems to me that the only reasons for action in academia that Brennan and others are able to make sense of issue from the reasons provided by getting a tenure-track job or getting tenure. They are, it seems to me, "missing some piece of perceptual machinery."

Apparently, in Brennan's view, the only person who deserves a secure, well-paying academic job with benefits is a person that strives to satisfy the ideal of academic saintliness. It is the academic saint, who doesn't just see their desire for a tenure-track job or tenure as one desire among many, but who sees that desire as the only possible source of reasons, who shall inherit the promised land. (And, insofar as they fail to do this, yet continue to stay in academia, so Brennan's reasoning implies, they are simply irrational. Note that another important ideal that Brennan would have us strive to is provided by a different, but no less problematic type of saint: Homo-Economicus.)

This is why the complaints of adjuncts/contingents are so baffling to people like Brennan. They don't understand that adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they have failed to win the academic lottery.

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because many people think the only reason they don't have tenure-track jobs are because of their "academic mistakes."

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because their commitment to teaching is seen, not as something positive, but as a sign that they are unable or unwilling or too stupid to do research.

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they are subsidizing the research of tenure-track and tenured faculty.

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they teach twice as many students or twice as many classes with less support and for less money than the anointed academic saints.

And, adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they are seen as unworthy of permanent positions according to the standards decided upon, in retrospect, by the people who won the academic lottery and are now looking to rationalize their own luck.

I mean, adjuncts/contingents are pissed off about all of these things, of course.

But, speaking for myself, I'm pissed off because all of these things are signs that an ideal of academic saintliness that reduces all reasons for acting in academia to getting another line on the CV is at the center of a system that (I think) once made room for acting for other types of reasons (like curiosity, or, if you're old-fashioned, truth, or, even more old-fashioned, wisdom).

I'm pissed off because this ideal is uncritically accepted. And the people in positions to push back against it (i.e., hiring committees and people like Brennan) lack the moral imagination to come up with new ideals that will accommodate different ways of being in the academic world.

I'm pissed off that there are people like Brennan who think that because adjuncts/contingents failed to win the academic lottery (because of their academic mistakes, natch), their small part of the academic world should be without offices, benefits, and other forms of institutional support.

Brennan's wrong. I'm not pissed off because I don't have a tenure-track job, and that's not what we're asking for. I'm pissed off because people shouldn't have to be academic saints in order to get just a little more moral consideration than what they've been given in the past.

-- Jaded, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

No more half measures

On the previous thread, 8:51 asks:
I wonder if you could start a new thread where those of us who are planning to leave academic philosophy could say a bit about our backgrounds, our reasons for leaving, and our plans (where plans exist). 
For those of us on who are certainly our way out the door, I think it would be interesting and helpful to see who else is leaving, why they're leaving, and where they're headed. And for people who are in the midst of deciding whether to leave, I think it could be comforting.
I am not someone who is definitely planning on leaving, but I'm definitely on my way to being pushed out slowly, so I am developing plans to GTFO. Relevant background info:
  • My Ph.D. is from a school in the middle of the PGR pack.
  • I've applied to jobs for more or less the past 5 or 6 years (but only a handful this year and none last year). I had no business applying for about 2 or 3 of those years.
  • Actively and slowly research; only one publication.
  • 4 - 5 years of active teaching experience (in 3 years, I've taught what TT folks at my department teach in 5 years).
  • A few TT interviews, two on-campus interviews, but no offers. 
  • More than a few VAP and/or post-doc interviews. 1 offer (for my current VAP).
  • Current position was originally for one-year, but I've been lucky enough to have it renewed a few times (always at the last minute because of funding issues).
  • 6 months after moving across the country for my current position, I turned down a 2 year postdoc that would've required me to move back across the country.
It was after turning down the postdoc and spending more and more time with people who don't uproot their lives every few years chasing a job that might potentially land them in a place they never thought they'd live, that I began to seriously think about leaving philosophy. I also feel very strongly about staying in my current city.*

And recently, I was not considered for what was probably the last opportunity at turning my current VAP into something more permanent [details redacted; but I'm not the only person at my current department that's super-pissed about this]. For a while, I thought that I'd be happy adjuncting in my current city, which offers a lot of teaching opportunities. But I'm less convinced I want to do that now (I hope some of y'all participated in National Adjunct Walkout Day!).

I've been trying to lay the groundwork to GTFO in a few ways; though these are more like half-measures than anything else. Through friends, I've been volunteering at a local non-profit, through which I've met people and made connections outside philosophy. These connections have led to editorial work and at least one writing assignment for a local paper. I feel like these connections and also friends get me a toe (at least) in the door at places I might enjoy working. But I haven't followed through yet. I've also been on Twitter a lot lately, which isn't helping me develop GTFO plans.

That's it!

--Jaded, Ph.D.

*One thing that I've found especially helpful are non-academic friends who work and live in one part of the country longer than one or two years and aren't constantly applying to jobs. They are also cool and I don't want to move away from them in the same way that I didn't want to move away from my badass academic friends, but did because that's what academics do. I'm probably not alone in having almost exclusively academic friends during graduate school (or maybe I was?). I found it harder to shake the "I'm a failure" feelings surrounded by my lovely academic friends; but less hard now. (Though I also found it easier to talk philosophy with my academic friends than I do now; trade-offs.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By request: Should I stay or should I go?

Since we seem to be solidly into the post doc/VAP season, and pretty much done with TT jobs, I just ran the numbers at PhilJobs for the season. From Aug 1, 2014 to Mar 2, 2015 there were 186 jobs listed under the criteria "junior faculty" and "tenure track or similar" and "United States." For the same interval 2013-2014 the count was 217. If you include international jobs, it increases to 214 for 2014-15, which is still fewer than the US jobs last year. The Phylo Wiki lists 228 jobs this year, which includes international jobs (and the dates go back further). I make no claims about the accuracy or completeness of these figures. I see some jobs in the search results that are clearly not TT, and a few that are not really junior, so this is a rough estimate. Plus, there might be jobs that were listed elsewhere, but not listed on PhilJobs.

My suspicion earlier in the season was that this was turning out to be a particularly bad one, which I think is more or less confirmed. One would hope that, as 2008-2009 recedes into history, the job market would improve. One would hope, apparently, in vain.

You can see Carolyn Dicey Jennings' placement data report for 2011-2014 here. Her data shows, among other things, that the proportion of men and women being hired basically matches the porportion of men and women who earn doctorates in philosophy.

Jennings estimates 376 521 new graduates each year (2011-2014), of whom about 17% will land TT jobs, on average. It's pretty obvious that if there are ~500 grads per year, and only ~200 TT jobs, more than half of those grads cannot possibly get TT jobs. That snowballs, of course, as many grads each year come up empty-handed. (Hence, we're seeing hundreds of applicants for every job. I recently talked to someone on a SC at an R2 in a fairly desirable area -- they got 360+ applicants for a 3/3 job.)

Helen DeCruz summarizes some prestige bias numbers here.  88% of philosophy TT hires are from Leiter-ranked departments. 31% are from Top 10 departments.

To sum up, it's bad.

Feel free to add more data points, or anecdata, or corrections to the estimates above, in the comments.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

In Which I Despair for the Underemployed Philosophers

Like many of you, I received the PFO from the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy. Like many of you, I was shocked to read that the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy received over six hundred applications. 600. Six-zero-zero. I sent out just over 40 applications this year. How is a person supposed to find a job in this environment?

--Mr. Zero