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.

~zombie


93 comments:

Anonymous said...

my only bit of advice on this is to decide in advance how many years you're willing to go on the market. One, two, three, six? Have a firm upper limit and stick with it. Of course, you might revise it downwards at some point, and whether you obtain post-docs or multi-year VAPs along the way might influence the total number. But I do think you should decide in advance what your upper limit is. For most people, this is something your advisors aren't so useful for: many will take it as a foregone conclusion that you'll do whatever it will take to get a TT job, even devoting half a decade post-phd to searching for one, whilst adjuncting and/or moving frequently to chase post-docs and VAPs as they arise.

What I think is, for most people, not a good strategy is to just blindly continue marketing year after year without so much as considering a plan B. Don't commit the sunk-cost fallacy. Every year you go on the market is a year you lose pursuing a plan B career. Of course, there may be people who are happy adjuncting indefinitely, but many of us can't or won't do that.

Anonymous said...

Is there any useful conversation to be had about the PhD oversupply problem? It sounds like ~1/2 of all programs should be shuttered, to stop overproducing. Is there any way to move in that direction in an equitable way?

Anonymous said...

"Is there any useful conversation to be had about the PhD oversupply problem?"

No, because nobody is willing to admit that their program is the problem, and nobody is willing to admit that they are the excessive waste that needs to be trimmed from the field.

The oversupply problem exists for multiple reasons, but one of them is because people keep applying to programs with crapy placement. So long as the demand for such programs exists, so too will the programs.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10:57: Yes, it would be the intelligent thing to do as a discipline to decrease the number of PhDs (not programs necessarily, but the number of degrees awarded, and not by as much as half). That said, most if not all PhD granting departments have no individual incentive either to (a) cut enrollment or (b) stop admissions altogether. So it will continue on...

@ Anon 10:44: This is generally good, though I'd offer one caveat from my own experience. I'd set a hard number of 4. After 3 years, I landed a two-year post-doc that paid alright and was somewhere I liked. So I was willing to add 1 more year to finish that. There may sometimes be reason to flex a bit on that hard number.

zombie said...

It's not just a problem in philosophy, but across all disciplines (including STEM disciplines where there is supposedly a shortage of PhDs):
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25642132

Too many PhDs are produced relative to the number of academic jobs. That said, the prospects for getting a job outside academia are better for PhDs in STEM fields.

This is related, of course, to the adjunct problem. If depts lack TT lines to hire FT faculty, they need grad students to teach those courses, which gives them an incentive to have more grad students. Maybe the budgets should shift -- support fewer grad student stipends and hire more FT faculty with the money. But then R1 faculty have to start teaching...

Anonymous said...

I don't really think closing PhD programs is a good response to the oversupply problem.

How about college football as an analogy? One has to be a very good high school player to get the chance to play football in college. Many football players believe that playing football in college will lead to a lucrative career in the NFL, even though the odds are very much against them. There is a football oversupply problem insofar as there are many more successful college players than can be drafted into the NFL.

Is the proper response to eliminate college football programs until there are only enough left to produce roughly the amount of players required for the NFL draft each year? There are good reasons to think about eliminating/reforming college football programs that might apply to PHIL programs (brain damage probably wouldn't count as a reason applicable to both, but maybe): deception of recruits about the likelihood of a pro career, exploitation of the players to make money for the university, failure to ensure that the players picked up skills to lead a fulfilling life outside of football, etc.

However, if football programs refrain from doing the bad things mentioned above and instead stress to players that playing college football is a way to be physically fit, do something one enjoys, achieve a level of excellence in this activity, and that players should be developing skills likely to serve them in non-football careers while playing, it seems unwarranted to come to the conclusion that football programs need to be eliminated because of the oversupply problem.

Anonymous said...

"How about college football as an analogy?"

OK, but here is why your analogy fails:

1. College football makes lots of money. People pay to go watch college football. While it does serve the NFL as a talent-development league, it is also in its own right a product. There are a great many people who follow college football but do not follow the NFL. But there is nobody in Philosophy who cares only what grad students say, and ignore the professionals.

2. Not all college football players have dreams of the NFL. This may be true for players at Division I schools, this is increasingly less true for Division I-A, I-AA, and further down the road.

If hD programs were more like college football, we would adopt these divisions. Division I schools would be those with excellent placement into tenure track jobs. And students attending those programs would have a reasonable hope of a shot at the professional leagues. And just as scholarship athletes at Division II schools know they need to consider other career options, students at Division II PhD programs would be actively developing their Plan B possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous writes: "my only bit of advice on this is to decide in advance how many years you're willing to go on the market. One, two, three, six?"

I disagree. I think it depends a great deal on whether you're moving in the right direction. I know a guy who got a TT job after over 10 years. I finally got a TT job after 7 years. If I had continually not gotten interviews, I think it might have been a good idea to give up. But, it turned out that each year I got more interviews than the year before--which my wife and I took to be a positive sign.

For this reason, I think setting a firm upper limit can be a bad idea. If my upper-limit had been 5 or 6 years and I had stuck to it, I wouldn't have a TT job today--and I'm thankful I didn't give up.

Anonymous said...

" 'Is there any useful conversation to be had about the PhD oversupply problem?'

No, because nobody is willing to admit that their program is the problem, and nobody is willing to admit that they are the excessive waste that needs to be trimmed from the field."

Actually, I seem to recall a comment somewhere -- I think it was a Daily Nous thread, but I've completely forgotten the context -- in which a faculty member mentioned that her own department had opted to convert its PhD program to a masters program. (I hope I'm remembering this right.. anyone who knows what I'm referring to, please feel free to chime in).

If some PhD programs converted to masters programs, they would still get extremely cheap grad labor to TA their classes and still have engaged graduate students to teach seminars to. Granted, they'd lose a bit of prestige and would probably have a lower total number of students for TA-ing and such.

But surely some faculty at PhD granting institutions that struggle with placement (so, most of them...) feel some qualms about helping their students to spend the better part of a decade preparing for an academic career that most of them will never have. I think that if I were at such an institution, I would actively support the switch to a masters-only program. I would then be able to mentor and invest in the grad students' work without the accompanying worry about whether i was merely helping them into a career grave.

Anonymous said...

"Jennings estimates 376 new graduates each year (2011-2014), of whom about 17% will land TT jobs, on average."

Also another point about this is that if I'm reading the report correctly, in a given year 17% of *all* candidates on the market will get a TT job. Some of those won't be first-time marketers (that's what I'd thought was going on, someone people correct me if I'm wrong).

Anonymous said...

~400 new PhDs/year
~200 TT/year

Question: How many jobs/year overall?

If ~400, then mere employment is not the biggest problem here. That's good. Arguably, then, the single biggest problem here is that universities are not fairly compensating adjuncts. Forget the shortage of TT jobs. All the attention should be on campaigning for higher adjunct pay.

zombie said...

3:13 -- too soon to tell this year, but last year (which, it seems, was better than this year) there were 375 total junior (TT and nonTT) positions advertised on PhilJobs. Which is pretty close to the estimated number of grads.

If TT faculty sometimes replace nonTT faculty (and vice versa), then that number can be expected to fluctuate some from year to year.

Anonymous said...

12:08 here again.

"But surely some faculty at PhD granting institutions that struggle with placement (so, most of them...) feel some qualms about helping their students to spend the better part of a decade preparing for an academic career that most of them will never have."

But what do they do about these qualms? If the answer is "nothing," then their feeling bad is really not worth anything.

"I think that if I were at such an institution, I would actively support the switch to a masters-only program."

I teach in a program with an MA but not a PhD. It has its benefits, certainly, but honestly I'd rather drop the grad program entirely. It feels...cheap. And this is in large part due to the general pointlessness of an MA in Philosophy. It's only real purpose seems to be in preparing students for a PhD. Which leads me to...

"I would then be able to mentor and invest in the grad students' work without the accompanying worry about whether i was merely helping them into a career grave."

But what would be your goal in working with them? That is, when they finish the program, they have to go somewhere. If they are going on to PhD programs, then you have not solved anything; you have merely become another stop on the road to their career graves. Would you advise them away from PhD programs? Refuse to write letters of recommendation for them? Or would you send them along, feeling somewhat better about yourself knowing that someone else will screw them worse?

Or would you help build a program that works to place its graduates into non-academic positions? Would you help develop a program that is geared toward Plan B possibilities? And if so, there's no reason you can't do that in any program you teach for, no matter what degrees they offer.

Derek Bowman said...

zombie: But of course many of those positions (both TT and non-TT) went to people who already have jobs and/or have been on the market for years.

Anonymous said...

To echo what Derek just said:

This may be a non-representative slice, but as of today, 14/20 of the appointments on PhilJobs went to people who already have a 'current position' of some kind (usually a lecturer, VAP, postdoc, or TT position).

Of those 20, 13 are TT/'permanent' jobs (UK model), and 12 of those 13 already had a post.

Anonymous said...

Re the upper limit: I think it depends on the kind of job you have too. If I were a class by class adjunct I'd probably say two years and then to hell with it. That was my position; I adjuncted for two years and if something hadn't happened I was going to leave philosophy after another year at most. Then I managed to land a renewable VAP position that's pretty much renewed barring gross incompetence on my part or the part of the people who make the university's budget. I'm underpaid and I don't get the most desirable classes but the job isn't bad all things considered, so I'm willing to try a lot longer to land a tenure track job. Now if my partner and I decide to have kids in a year or two I might have to rethink that. The salary is more than good enough to live comfortably for a couple of DINKs, but I don't think it's adequate to raise a family on.
My own feeling is that the best thing for the profession, higher ed in general, and new grads would be if universities were to create a lot more jobs that are like mine except that they actually pay a real middle class wage. Given how incredibly fucked up the priorities of just about every university I've had first hand experience with has been I'm not holding my breath on that happening though.

zombie said...

CDJ's data shows that 17% of NEW grads will get TT jobs. I took that to mean new grads out of the annual 376, not total PhDs on the job market. So that does not include people making lateral moves or moving up.

17% = about 64 new grads get TT jobs their first year out. Which means the other ~150 jobs go to people not in their first year on the job market, whether they are moving laterally from another TT job, or moving from nonTT to TT jobs. That is, I suppose, good news for people moving over or moving up, and bad news for new grads. And of course, the oversupply of PhDs compounds each year.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some case studies would be a good way to focus the 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' question. Here's mine.

After this season, I'm empty-handed and inclined to throw in the towel, but several friends and advisors are telling me it'd be crazy to quit now. What do you think? Here's how I'd look heading into the 2015/2016 market:

- PhD from a top-10 Leiter program, 4 years ago.
- 3 attempts at the market already, 2 which produced nothing, 1 which got me a postdoc in a prestigious dept (ending this year).
- My run at the market this season resulted in 3 first-rounds (a decent R1 and two OK SLACs), and one fly-out at a desirable place, where I came in 2nd against a candidate with a killer CV.
- Only 3 publications, 2 in top-10 journals, 1 in a top-20 journal.
- If I work quickly and get lucky, a book contract with a good publisher.
- If I get even luckier, another decent forthcoming pub, bringing me to 4 total (in 4 years...).
- An idiosyncratic interdisciplinary AOS that SCs seem to find interesting, but which also makes them wonder if I'm really in their AOS, no matter what their AOS is.
- Applying without an academic home (adjuncting if I'm lucky, manual labor if not).

Would it indeed be crazy for someone in this position to leave the profession? I think the odds of my getting something are shaky at best, likely much worse. But since people are telling me I'd be a lunatic to quit now, I'd appreciate any more input.

Anonymous said...

Here is another thought: It seems to be taken for granted that once one gets a "real" job, one has left philosophy for good. But perhaps that is not the case? Or perhaps it should not be the case? Can one continue to apply for TT jobs after becoming, for instance, an administrator in a university, or something of the kind? Could this be something about the culture we could change, so that people aren't consigned to working shit jobs in poverty (as adjuncts) while they hope for the TT job year after year? I see no reason why we should only hire professors who have stuck it out in academic (teaching or research) posts. In other fields, people move more freely between academic posts and industry posts. Why not philosophy?

Anonymous said...

A response to Anon from March 3 at 12:08pm...

You advocate in favor of "trimming the waste", and eliminating PhD departments. And you suggest that those departments with poor placement records are the ones that should be eliminated.

But there's a problem here: given the existence of prestige bias, some departments (the Leiter ones) are unjustly being privileged over others when it comes to hiring new PhDs. So I don't take placement record as an automatically reliable indicator of a department's quality or worthiness in the field.

I agree that there are too many PhD departments; but I can't (off the top of my head) come up with a non-arbitrary criterion to decide which ones should be eliminated.

Anonymous said...

"But there's a problem here: given the existence of prestige bias, some departments (the Leiter ones) are unjustly being privileged over others when it comes to hiring new PhDs. So I don't take placement record as an automatically reliable indicator of a department's quality or worthiness in the field."

Right. But the presumptive goal is to eventually get a tenure track job. So we need to acknowledge the bias. My suggestion has nothing to do with overall quality or worthiness in the field, and has everything to do with getting a job.

If "quality" and "worthiness" are the goals, then people should stop worrying about the terrible market, and be happy with having received an excellent education.

-12:08

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:14. If you can nail down the book contract with a kick ass press this semester, I would give it another run. Short of that, I don't think there is anything you could do this year that would suggest better results forthcoming, and you might be better off cutting your losses.

Remember, your advisors are lifers, like that guy in Shawshank Redemption, and are scared of life on the outside of the academic walls. Take their advice on these matters with a grain of salt

Anonymous said...

@11:14 AM, I don't think you'd be a "lunatic" for leaving now, but it's also not obvious that you should quit, either. It sounds like you're making some progress (a good, steady publication output; a prestigious postdoc), and you came in second at once place year. Those seem like good signs.

That said, there are all kinds of factors we don't know about your personal and/or family life that might make the difference here. So it's hard to really judge.

One thing you might do to address your idiosyncratic, interdisciplinary AOS is to try and publish on something that is more squarely within one area (esp. the area that is more popular on the job market). A friend of mine (also from a Leiter top-10) took 5 years on the market -- he had a good publication output, but on topics that were (frankly) very boring, and so hard to sell to SC committee members outside his area. He published last year on a sexier topic more squarely in his area. He's just gotten a TT at a Leiter-ranked department.

Other than that, I'd suggest networking: more conferences, maybe new letters from outside people.

But even if you decide to give it another go, it would behoove you to start thinking about other options and what sort of training/education you might need for them.

Anonymous said...

This is a general worry about comments I have seen both here and elsewhere - people seem to be glossing over the distinction between bias in a statistical sense and bias in the sense of 'unjust'. Here's what we know: statistically, you've got a much better chance of getting a job if you come out of a top grad school. But this doesn't seem automatically unjust to me: even if we imagine that, say, grad school admissions and the hiring market were pure meritocracies, wouldn't it still be the case that the best students would end up a the best schools, likely get at least somewhat better philosophical training, and therefore be better qualified as job candidates? Of course it is not true even in this case that every top-5 grad will be better than every 40-50 grad, but there will be correlations, surely.

So I guess my question is this: what evidence do we have that the prestige bias (in the statistical sense) is because people at top schools benefit from the halo effect, rather than that the students at top schools got into them because they were good, and then got great educations, making them better?

As an analogy, I assume something like this might be true in sports - maybe a lot of NBA players come out of a particular group of colleges. But this isn't evidence of bias towards people from certain colleges - it's to be expected, given that the best players tend to go to better colleges in the first place, and benefit from the training they receive there.

Anonymous said...

Crappy placement is not the problem itself. That is only a symptom of the problem. The issue is PhD programs that provide a mediocre, or worse, graduate education. Getting better placement procedures isn't going to fix the issue for lots of programs, even if there are more jobs, because they just aren't doing an adequate job with what they are supposed to do: helping people become geuinely good philosophers.

(yes, I know some places suck at placement procedures too.)

It's PhD program selection season right now, too. People considering which program to accept, or if to go at all: think about what goes into a good grad education, and sniff that out on campus visits. Placement rates are bad predictors, epecially when many programs have only 2-6 people going out on the market each year. It's easier (never easy, just comparatively easier) to get a job when you really did get a genuinely good education as a philosopher. There are top programs where the faculty publish a lot and are famous and barely have the time of day for you. They often have crappy placement BECAUSE they don't provide a genuinely good grad education.

Anonymous said...

@2:12 You say this: "Here's what we know: statistically, you've got a much better chance of getting a job if you come out of a top grad school."

Please tell us (a) how you know this; and (b) how you are defining "top grad school" in philosophy.

One of my concerns/objections is that many people falsely assume that "Leiter-ranked" is identical with "top grad school". (Does "top" mean simply that a bunch of Leiter-rankers regard it as top, based on names of faculty? Or does top have substantive meaning, in terms of the quality of education provided?) It is true, however, that Leiter-ranked departments have an aura of prestige--hence the bias.

Anonymous said...

"As an analogy, I assume something like this might be true in sports - maybe a lot of NBA players come out of a particular group of colleges. But this isn't evidence of bias towards people from certain colleges - it's to be expected, given that the best players tend to go to better colleges in the first place, and benefit from the training they receive there."

This would work as an analogy if you also include that these these players also come from a small circle of high schools with well-known sports programs. Eric Schwitzgebel ran an analysis a couple of years ago that suggested that it's much, much harder for someone to get into one of the top grad programs if he or she came from a less prestigious undergrad program. Now, of course you can run the same kind of argument--hey, these people get into the top grad programs because they get better training at their prestigious undergrad program. But the deeper we go with prestige, the less plausible this argument is. Did these students get into the prestigious undergrad program because their high schools trained them so much better?

What is much more likely is that some, maybe even most, grads of the top grad programs are smart and well-prepared, but that some, maybe even many, grads of the less prestigious grad programs are as smart and as well-prepared as those from the top programs. If this is the case, the chances of prestige playing an unjustifiable role in hiring are higher.

Anonymous said...

I am also inclined to quit after this go-round.

-PhD in 2014 from an unranked program.
-4 publications, 1 solo in a top 6 general journal, 1 co-authored in Religious Studies (phil of religion AOS, 1 co-authored in a relatively obscure interdisciplinary journal, one in a phil & pop-culture anthology.
-been a full time lecturer with benefits at State school for 2 years.
-AOS in Ethics and Metaphysics
-Hoping to have another solo article out this year.
-applied for nearly 70 positions this year, got 0 interviews.

Sometimes, I think I should just hang it up and move on. I will soon be out of the position I am in now, and when I am, I will have place to go, and I will be unaffiliated. it seems to me like continuing to fill out applications is just a waste of time and money. So then, I think that when this gig is taken away, I should just let that be the end of that. Is it too son to make the call?

Anonymous said...

Since we are going into yet another conversation about the Leiter (or now, the new, improved not-Leiter) rankings I would like to make an alternate proposal:

Given the ridiculous number of candidates per position, and all the problems involved with using rankings as a proxy for quality, there is no non-arbitrary way of choosing between qualified candidates.

Therefore, the best way to ensure fairness is to adopt a straight-up lottery system for filling TT gigs, something along the lines of the draft.

As an added bonus, the entire philosophy blogosphere would have to start publishing more philosophy, and fewer hand-wringing posts about Leiter and hiring bias.

It would really be a net benefit to everyone.

Anonymous said...

4:22, when I said "Here's what we know: statistically, you've got a much better chance of getting a job if you come out of a top grad school" I was referring to the statistics cited in the post:

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

I agree that Leiter-ranked is not necessarily identical with 'top' as you define it, I should have been clearer about what I meant.

5:20, I think I agree with pretty much all of what you say as well: the admissions processes into both undergrad and grad school are clearly not pure meritocracies. But put it this way: take two infants. No.1 has every advantage in life, gets into a great undergrad and Leiter top 5 programme for philosophy, gets a great education on philosophy, develops as a researcher, etc. and then goes on the job market. No. 2 goes to crappy schools all along the way, gets a sub-standard philosophical education, and as a result is much less capable *at this point in time* of doing good work, both in terms of research and teaching, as a philosopher.

Now, here's what is true: it's not fair that No. 1 had so many advantages, and No. 2 didn't. But even if it is true that had No. 2 received No. 1's education, s/he would be a much better philosopher at this point than No. 1, it doesn't seem to me that choosing to hire No. 1 rather than No. 2 for a position is unjust.

(Similarly, it's unfair that some students go to good undergrad schools and others don't, and as a result of that some students get into great law schools, and can afford to pay for them: you can recognize this is unfair, but if you hire a lawyer you're going to hire the one who is better qualified at the point of hiring, even if the fact that they are better qualified is the result of background unfairness).

My main point is that we can't move straight from noticing that there is statistical prestige bias (31% of job-getters come from top-10 programmes) to the claim that this is bias in the 'unjust' sense of the term. We need to know some further facts: for example, is it really true that there are no significant differences between the graduates of top-10 programmes and graduates of, say, unranked programmes?

I agree that many grads of the less prestigious grad programs are as smart and as well-prepared as those from the top programs. But it seems to conclude automatically that statistical bias = injustice, it needs to be the case that something like this is true: the average grad from (say) an unranked programme is just as smart and well-prepared as those from the top programs. And I just don't think that is true.

Obviously it's hard to know what the numbers *should* look like - but again, my main point is that statistical bias alone is not enough to establish the injustice claim. (At least, it's not enough to establish that the hiring process is unjust, even if we accept that background injustices play a significant role in determining how well-qualified for a job in philosophy someone is at the point they go on the job-market).

Anonymous said...

In response to Anon 11:14 "Would I be a lunatic to leave now?" (to paraphrase)

No, you wouldn't be a lunatic to leave now. Nor would you be a lunatic to try another year. It's a tough personal choice you're facing. Many philosophy faculty have drunk the kool-aid so thoroughly that they cannot envision being truly happy outside of the academy. I highly doubt any of them had to go on the market 4 times (4 times!) to secure their first TT job, so if I were you, I would discount their opinions. It's your life.

What you have to figure out for yourself is what you would be willing to put in for the chance at a TT job in philosophy (beyond the enormous time and effort you've already put in) and what you would be willing to do to be able to evade another year on the market and the peace that (I'm guessing) comes with being able to pursue another career trajectory. Only you can settle these questions.

If you go another year, you lose another year you might've put into beginning a different career path. You also have to put in the effort again, the polishing of the dossier, the prepping for interviews, the enormously draining on-campuses. There are also real psychic costs, the pain of disappointment, the hit to one's pride, the utter frustration, the fear of perennial underemployment, the fear of having to choose between one's dream career and living in an undesirable location, the anger alternately directed at yourself, your advisors, and the entire discipline for not having realized how hard it would be. It is not 'crazy' to make these emotional costs part of your cost-benefit analysis.

You've done quite well on the market, really. You're clearly a strong candidate. It sucks so much that in this market being a strong candidate is no guarantee of a job and that one can do well in a sense without ever getting a job, even after years of trying.

If you do decide to go on the market again, it might help to keep your dossier looking fresh to add a new letter if possible, a new fantasy (or real) syllabus, and perhaps a substantially new research statement. You should also carefully make a case to each of your existing letters writers that your dossier in 2015/16 is *much* better than last year's and ask them to incorporate developments. Make a bulleted list of improvements: new articles, a possible book under contract (that's huge), perhaps other teaching or research strides (e.g., refereed or invited conferences new last year). Even if you're not feeling it, sell yourself to them so they can sell you. (4 articles in 4 years is not bad at all if the articles are good -- and since 3 are in top 20 journals, I think they probably are. Don't focus on the quantity. Focus on the impact on the dialectic.)

It's a tough call, but it's your call. very best of luck.

PS: you seemed to think you'd necessarily be adjuncting or doing non-philosophy this year, but I'd think it's a bit early to rule yourself out for a visiting position or even certain post-docs?

Anonymous said...

anon 5:24, so does this mean you've been on the market 3 years now (including this year)?

On an earlier thread, someone suggested whether you're still getting first-round interviews as a rough rule of thumb for whether you're still competitive. Since your PhD is only from a year ago, and you do have one top-6 article (er, so, I'm assuming PPR?), it's hard to think you've totally seen what the market can do for you.

Still, as I'm sure you know, the odds for philosophers from unranked programs are not at all good. This may sound harsh but I don't think your odds are amazing (this is not the least a commentary on your quality of work which I of course know nothing about). It's a tough call but yours to make. But if you go go again, do try to restructure your research statement, try a different writing sample, get an extra letter, just something *different* to see if you can't budge those numbers. Of course the second article would help.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap, guys...

The answer to the initial question is so obvious, it hurts: QUIT and finally start doing something responsible with your life.

Anonymous said...

I think a fair number of people think that lots of candidates are really strong and it's unfair that Leiter-ranked candidates get preference.

I have an alternative take on some of the preference for Leiter-ranked schools which is purely anecdotal. As a grad student at a Leiter-ranked school, I've now seen two junior searches, one in medieval phil and one in metaphysics.

My impression of both? Basically none of the candidates were very good. They all looked good on paper, most had multiple publications, etc. But they were by and large bad when they came to campus.

The medieval hire perfectly matched the Leiter ranking, the metaphysics hire went to the person with the most prestigious post-doc (and who came from a top-5 Leiter school to boot). Why? Because the department felt they needed to make a hire or risk losing the TT line, and because they figured the Leiter rankings must track something, even if they couldn't see it in the moment. We'll see if it was the right call. But it would have been hard to justify anything else when everyone was about equal.

Anonymous said...

"Basically none of the candidates were very good. They all looked good on paper, most had multiple publications, etc. But they were by and large bad when they came to campus."

From one two-hour talk you could tell they were 'by and large bad'?? Good grief. Wait until you've had an on-campus yourself, you'll see what that level of stress and pressure does to your performance. Then I think you'll see those job talks in a different light. It's amazing what stress can do to your ability to form a thought.

Anonymous said...

" is it really true that there are no significant differences between the graduates of top-10 programmes and graduates of, say, unranked programmes?"

This is becoming an increasingly difficult thing to determine. As more and more grads from unranked programs are having to leave the market, they will turn their attention to other things. In ten years it's possible that the entire field will consist of graduates of top 10 programs. And that will be the new normal. And it may be too late now to gauge whether there is a significant difference between grads of top programs and those of unranked programs.

Anonymous said...

10:26, Doesn't your comment imply that no information gathered about a candidate during an interview is relevant, since they are highly likely to be stressed throughout the entire process?

Anonymous said...

1:27,
I'm not 10:26, but no, it doesn't imply that. 10:26 doesn't say that information gathered during the interview is irrelevant. The point, which I agree with, is that it's kind of crazy to let that information swamp all the other information you have from the dossier.

Anonymous said...

@1:27, "Doesn't your comment imply that no information gathered about a candidate during an interview is relevant, since they are highly likely to be stressed throughout the entire process?"

I'm not 10:26, but to answer for that person: um, no, it obviously does not imply that.

One should be somewhat forgiving when they're judging someone's personality on the basis of their perceived sociability in such circumstances, since they're under a lot of stress. One should not, however, be forgiving if a job candidate (say) makes a pass at a grad student, even if that is explained because they're under a lot of stress.

*That said*, I do think that what relevance the on-campus has should be limited.

Anonymous said...

The original post says that "Jennings estimates 376 new graduates each year". But if you look at Jennings' actual post, she says this:

"I thus estimate that 521 new graduates have entered the market each year from those (english-speaking) departments that have reported placements on ProPhilosophy and/or PhilAppointments between 2011 and 2014."

And "those" depts to which she refers are only "83 of the 113 English-speaking depts that placed candidates between 2011-2014"; she only had data on 83 of them.

Thus, the number of total new PhD graduates each year has to be way more than 376.

Anonymous said...

Whoa.
Brilliant thought, 5:52.

-5:38

Anonymous said...

But low ranked Leiter schools and non-ranked Leiter schools do place people. Emory places people, Purdue places people, Southern Illinois places people. Their placement records seem on par with what is considered good for ranked schools. They just place people in different places. Not every school wants someone from a top 10 program. Some schools actively avoid interviewing people from top 10 programs.

Anonymous said...

10:26 implies that you cannot make accurate judgments about a candidate after seeing a two-hour talk. I think you can.

Candidates look good on paper usually because of some combination of pedigree (which, IMO, is very fallible), publications (these are important, but your chances of publishing as a grad student are highly increased by having a well-connected supervisor who has taken you under her wing, so they are definitely defeasible evidence of quality), and letters (which are nearly always inflated).

A talk can tell you how a person understands their research program, whether or not that research program has legs, how well they understand the literature, how familiar they are with other areas of philosophy, their general attitudes towards philosophy (personally I've been very turned off by aggressive job-talkers who cut off critical questioners and respond with hostility), and, most importantly, their ability to communicate while under stress. Conferences are stressful, teaching is stressful, so to be an effective professor, you have to have working strategies for communicating in those circumstances. These facts about a candidate, which cannot be glossed from a dossier, are extremely important.

10:26 did seem to imply (not 'say' as another commentator pointed out) that this information is not relevant when assessing a candidate's quality.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm going to cross-post a question from an older threat -- not super topically relevant to this one, but im hoping I'll get a bit of feedback on this (apologies for this bit of thread derailing):

I'm most likely out of the running for a TT job this year. I need funding next year so on to VAPs. I'm a first-timer at this, so I was wondering what the timeline is for VAPs? How long do departments typically take to find someone between the deadline for applications and making an offer? And do VAP searches usually involve a skype interview or are they sometimes offered sans interview? Do they ever involve an on-campus?

Finally, is it yucky to contact someone I know at a school advertising a VAP to mention that I'm applying?

zombie said...

"Finally, is it yucky to contact someone I know at a school advertising a VAP to mention that I'm applying"

It's not yucky, but it might be awkward, for you or the other person. Presumably, that person is not on the search committee, and so will have no influence on the search, other than to maybe tell someone on the SC, Hey, my friend X is applying for this job. If they ARE on the SC, they should not really be talking to you about the search off the record.

zombie said...

Job talks and teaching demos are both stressful, but, as mentioned, not in a way that is completely different from conference talks and teaching. SCs are well aware of the stress level of such a high stakes talk. One of the things you can assess is how the candidate performs under pressure.

They do tell you something about the candidates that is worth knowing, and might make the difference in the hiring decision, especially if the candidates are more or less equal on paper. I attended some job talks in another department at my uni -- they brought three candidates who all looked good on paper (and presumably did fine in the first interview), but all three disappointed in the job talks, so much so that they're not hiring anyone for the position.

Additionally, job talks are sometimes attended by a larger audience than the SC, and so give a sense of how the candidate interacts with grad students, faculty, people outside the department, people who ask weird/rambling/off-topic questions, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm anon from 12:54, who was asking about vaps.

""Finally, is it yucky to contact someone I know at a school advertising a VAP to mention that I'm applying"

It's not yucky, but it might be awkward, for you or the other person. Presumably, that person is not on the search committee, and so will have no influence on the search"

I should've clarified that I was specifically wondering whether I should contact a tenure-stream faculty member I know about my applying to their VAP. (I would of course not mention this to a grad student or non-tenure-stream person, who I realize is very unlikely to have an influence on the SC). I do know a tenure-track person at one of the VAPs I'm applying for. I *dont* know if they're on the SC, but they might be. In fact, given their AOS, there's a somewhat good chance they are.

Anonymous said...

I've also been surprised by the low quality presentations we get from some fly-outs. But I suppose when they are compared to the very senior or hotshot people we bring to our visiting speaker series, this is to be expected.

zombie said...

Marcus Arvan over at Phil Coccoon is collecting data on hiring that could be extremely useful. It's open to both those who do and those who do not get jobs: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/03/getting-scientific-on-the-market.html

zombie said...

From Vitae, academia's 1 percent (i.e. prestige bias again): https://chroniclevitae.com/news/929-academia-s-1-percent

Anonymous said...

“10:26 implies that you cannot make accurate judgments about a candidate after seeing a two-hour talk. I think you can.”
“10:26 did seem to imply (not 'say' as another commentator pointed out) that this information is not relevant when assessing a candidate's quality.”

Neither is implied by what 10:26 said.
The fact that something runs through your mind when you read a comment does not mean that the comment implied what runs through your mind.

Anonymous said...

"I should've clarified that I was specifically wondering whether I should contact a tenure-stream faculty member I know about my applying to their VAP."

No

"I do know a tenure-track person at one of the VAPs I'm applying for. I *dont* know if they're on the SC, but they might be. In fact, given their AOS, there's a somewhat good chance they are."

So what? Do you think there's something you can say that will change anything? Don't contact. There's really no point to it.

Anonymous said...

I contacted a faculty member that I knew fairly well before I applied for a job at their particular school. And it worked out well. But I was on pretty good terms with the person, knew them very well, etc. So it depends. I have no idea how much it helped. But people do it all the time. The problem with this blog is that so many people here seem to want to find some general rule to govern chaos. There is no rule.

Anonymous said...

12:54,
There is nothing wrong with contacting your associate on the hiring committee; it happens all the time. Just do it once though, and don't sound too desperate.

When there are 100+ applications for a visiting post, this sort of thing can be helpful for it can get you a second or more careful look if you have already been put in the reject pile by someone else on the committee.

Anonymous said...

Visiting posts and contract positions are, in my experience, highly determined by personal influences.

There is a good reason for this: you want as much evidence as possible that the person will be able to come in and teach the classes you need taught while behaving like a functional member of the department. Having someone on the faculty who can vouch for the person goes a long way. In some cases, it is even determinative.

Further, lots of people on the faculty won't care who gets these posts due to their short-term nature. It's not like hiring a colleague for the next 5-25 years. So they will just defer to the person who says "this person checks out."

So you should definitely contact anyone you know. Everyone else does this.

Anonymous said...

Howzabout those who think some PhD programs should be shut down to improve the pipeline problem start actually naming programs that they think should be shut, along with the reasons why? This is an anonymous forum, after all. Just go for it, and let's see whether the reasons stand up to scrutiny.

It strikes me as a thing that's easily said and agreed upon as a general principle, but that when we get down to individual departments it's no longer so obvious.

Anonymous said...

@2:50 PM, I'd suggest shutting down programs based on a combination of factors, but primarily: their (long-term) placement record and whether or not they focus exclusively (or almost exclusively) on certain areas of philosophy that aren't well represented on the job market.

For example, there are far more 20th-century continental philosophy departments than there are jobs for people in that area. And departments that focus on that area tend not to have overall departmental strength to buoy the department during hard times.

I suspect that niche departments (departments with only one or two strengths), especially those in universities with little-to-no national reputation, are having a harder time than usual in this job market.

[I'm not an a Continental philosophy basher at all -- far from it. Some great friends of mine went on to do graduate work in Continental departments, and I learned through them about what a shock the job market was. None of them got academic jobs. If you think it's bad for analytic philosophy, it's 10 times worse for Continental philosophy.]

zombie said...

FYI, Leiter is not running his annual hiring thread, and is pointing new hires to the PhilJobs site instead. If you've been hired, please post it!

And don't forget the data being collected at Phil Coccoon (whether hired or not): http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/03/getting-scientific-on-the-market.html

Anonymous said...

2:50: which programs currently admit students without funding, other than the occasional odd case? Duquesne used to do that, but I just googled them and apparently they don't any more. Which programs have a graduation rate of below 30% or so? Looking at some programs that only graduate 1 or 2 students a year the past couple of years, according to their placement pages, I have some suspicions. But no more than that.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:50 Look at programs with placement pages that haven't been updated in a few years.

Anonymous said...

The point isn't for 2:50 to go looking; the point is for those advocating that programs close to start naming names. After all, if that's a viable solution, then there ought to be quite a lot of such programs. Otherwise, you're just bullshitting and ought to shut up about it.

I'm not among those who think closing programs is a viable solution, but look, I'll help you ought with a specific suggestion: NSSR, not because it sucks or something but because it's mostly unfunded and has a 10:1 student-to-full-time faculty ratio. Your turn.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick inference from data provided to Cocoon page: prestige matters a lot, teaching experience and excellence not so much. I wonder how it will shake out in the end

Anonymous said...

Also programs whose placement pages don't make it clear whether placements as "assistant professors" are TT or visiting.

Anonymous said...

What would be the criteria for "shutting down" a program? Ranking? Placement record? Faculty productivity? Grad productivity? Funding?

My unranked program has a decent placement record: 80% full-time academic jobs; 44% tenture track jobs (including me). I was the only grad in my year (the great market-crash year); one or two is the norm.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"What would be the criteria for "shutting down" a program? Ranking? Placement record? Faculty productivity? Grad productivity? Funding?"

Personally, I think unfunded programs (if they still exist) should be closed down. That's just awful. Programs that don't treat grad students as investments shouldn't work with grad students.

But also, I think placement record should be the only consideration for this hypothetical situation. If PhD programs are going to insist that their sole purpose is to produce more faculty*, then that should eb the standard they are held to.

*I don't know of any PhD programs in Philosophy that actively develop (or even encourage) Plan B options. But if they exist, I'd love to know about them.

Anonymous said...

"Otherwise, you're just bullshitting and ought to shut up about it."

uh, that's a bit of a rude way to make your point. Try being nicer.

Anonymous said...

3:27:

To what end?

Anonymous said...

re: 8:51
There's already a thread on those who have left over at Daily Nous:

http://dailynous.com/non-academic-hires-2013-14/

Anonymous said...

So here's a question for those of you who aren't quite ready to leave yet and have some experience on the hiring end: Is it worth trying to get a book contract? Assuming that is it's from a respectable press and it's on something that isn't way out there? (Well it's on continental philosophy but not the nutty Zizek or Lacan kind). I've got a pretty good idea for a book and a paper based on it is coming out soon as an article and I've another paper that would be a chapter under review. So I was wondering if I ought to try the full court press on getting a book contract come this summer? I'm a VAP but I'm pretty desperate to move up. Anyway sorry it's not entirely appropriate, but some of the more appropriate threads are pretty much dead. And it's not entirely off topic; if something doesn't pan out for me in a year or two I might just leave the field. I mean I'm getting ready to propose to my significant other and I ain't exactly going to give a family a middle class standard of living on about 35,000 a year.

Anonymous said...

I got a book contract as a VAP last year and got a TT job this year. I suspect it probably helped.

zombie said...

Having a book under contract with a good academic publisher is good. Having a book published is even better. If the contract lands you a job, the book won't be published until you're TT, and it will count towards tenure. (In my dept, a book counts for a lot -- worth several peer-reviewed journal articles) YMMV

Anonymous said...

@5:29 pm
I take your point about decent income, and I don't want to be rude. But when linking your plans about proposing to your partner with your ability for providing a family income you make it sound as if you were living at the time of Jane Austen. Which is sort of funny.

Anonymous said...

sort of related to the book contracts issue: I have several unpublished pieces that are substantially related (er, it's my thesis). I argue at length for a (controversial) claim and then consider the implications of the claim for several other issues.

Now that I'm actually trying to publish, I don't know how to do it. Of course, I'll submit the piece that defends the main controversial claim--that's stand-alone. But when it comes to fully 2-3 other pieces, that are of the form 'if my claim, then blah', I will have to re-defend my claim (which again, is controversial) in order to make it intelligible why I'm even bothering about the conditional claim.

So finally, the q: should I just (try to) publish a book? I don't know that I personally have the stamina for that... maybe I do. Do I have zero chance of getting these other pieces published, these 'if my claim, then blah' pieces? I know this q is sort of ridiculous to pose when I'm being so abstract about what the papers are. The claim isn't *that* crazy, but it requires defense.

In thinking maybe I can just stick with a series of articles, I've been vaguely inspired by Gendler's two pieces on aliefs. She published them nearly at the same time in two different journals addressing different points, so maybe I can do this...??

Anonymous said...

Tricky. FWIW, it may be easier if you first publish the stand-alone and then, once it's been accepted, submit the others with reference to the stand-alone. In this case you can show that the controversial bit has been dealt with at length elsewhere (cite forthcoming, journal w/o author name). If you have material 'only' for 2-3 other pieces it may not be enough for a standard book. Unless you go for some of the new 30-70k formats, like the Palgrave Pivot and others.

Anonymous said...

This is 5:29 again: Thanks to zombie and 6:14 that is useful to know. That's kind of what I thought, but I wanted to be sure before I put in the effort of shopping a book around.

Oh and 5:59, I don't know why you think considerations of being able to lead a decent life without sponging off one's SO are so beneath you as to be laughable. I could offer some snarky speculation but I won't. But let me just say that you know damn well that you are actively trying to be rude and hiding behind your little locution there doesn't fool anyone. Look if you've got nothing better to do than be a troll you might as well have the courage to own up to it and do it right.

Anonymous said...

Question : what are the rules about books and articles? I've seen many books published that included/consisted of material that was published as articles -- Is it possible to have a book under review while, at the same time, material from that book (slightly revised to stand alone) is under review at a journal?

zombie said...

A journal won't publish a paper that has been previously published, or that is under review elsewhere (unless it's one of those predatory "open access" "journals" that will publish anything for a fee). Likewise, a book chapter. That doesn't mean that you can't write a paper that addresses similar questions/topics, but it had better (a) cite the other work and (b) be different enough to warrant a new paper. No one expects you to reinvent the wheel every time you write a paper.

Re: publishing in books after publishing in journals -- this can be done with permission from the journal publisher (who owns the copyright you signed over). I recently had a published piece anthologized in an edited collection (and got paid for it!).

zombie said...

8:04 -- if you think you have enough material (already written, or that could be written) for a book, what I would do is try to get the stand alone paper published. Then, on the basis of that paper (even if it's only at the point of being accepted), try to get a book deal for the whole package, on the understanding that your book is on the same topic/question/claim that you make in the paper. (I actually plan to do this very thing soon)

This could make it easier to sell your book proposal to a publisher, but it would also get you a publication for your CV sooner than a book would get published. And you'll also have a nice, cogent research agenda for your research statement.

Anonymous said...

zombie: I think you're right on the ethics of repeat papers, but I know that some big names in the field basically publish the same paper over and over again. We had a topflight philosopher of law visiting my old grad program and I was quite excited to hear him present his "new" work. The new work was basically a paper he'd written ten years ago with just enough tweaks to look new. I think he later published that in an edited anthology. Another time I got asked to referee a paper that I thought flat out plagiarized an important paper by a figure in my field. It turns out it was actually by that person, who was trying to put the same old wine into a new bottle. Mind you I'm not saying we should emulate these people. But what I do want to call attention to is that here, like practically everywhere else in our field, there's an awful double standard. What's absolutely unacceptable for us peons, is regarded as at worst a slightly bad habit in established people.

zombie said...

For sure, 8:05.
When you look at other disciplines, like the sciences, publishing multiple papers is the norm. A scientist can publish several papers, doling out the results of a single study/experiment. Multiple authors is the norm (including authors who are merely supervisors and had no part in writing the paper), and there is absolutely an expectation that you will cite your own work, thus goosing your citation rate too.

The standards are different in philosophy, although I'm not sure whythey have to be.

For us peons, part of the problem is that prestige bias affects journal acceptances.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone for this helpful discussion on book publishing, just what i was looking for (I'm anon 8:04).

Yes, I too am confused about when/where you can basically double-publish something that is in print and put it in a book. This happens A LOT! And maybe it's a senior-ed phenomenon, where more junior people couldn't get away with it.

But just to defend a little bit what some of these people are doing, to respond a bit to Anon 8:05s claim that big names frequently rewrite the same paper: once you get deep into a project, you can get sucked into it. You can see problems and become absorbed by minor tweak-y issues. You can refine and re-refine and re-refine it. I'm not saying people should then *present* the refinements as brand-new work worthy of massive public attention. But some of them may truly have lost sight of the degree to which the 'new' project will be of general interest because they're so into it. It can be hard to intellectually move on. In other words, they may not even REALIZE they're wasting our time, and if they're big names *no one will tell them that.*

Relatedly, there's a major bubble phenomenon with super big names in our discipline. I can think of someone whose recent work is unintelligble, dense, could *never* get published by a fresh young unknown. It's not new wine in an old bottle, it's thematically new work, but it's just not well-developed. And the sad thing is, this person doesn't *know* how unintelligble their work has become. They're big enough they'll still get some citations and conference invites, and they'll never have trouble publishing. Nobody will tell them the hard truth because they're famous. So there's at least one benefit to being junior/unknown, if your work needs help, *people will tell you.* You don't have to worry they're lying to your face and are privately thinking your work has become unintelligible or confused.

Anonymous said...

A slightly different publishing question, since we're on this theme:

I have a paper that i think makes a good point in reply to two different arguments by the same person, which this person has written up in two different articles, both in the same high-ranked journal. (or rather, the argumentative strategy is the same, but they use them to two different ends).

So, I want to reply to this person, and it's a relatively sustained discussion and counter-view--not just a 'discussion notes' piece. Btu the article where both of the main articles were published doens't publish replies and is super-selective. I'm not positive, but I don't think my piece is sufficiently broad in scope for them to take interest. where can i publish this thing? a lot of journals that accept longer response pieces only accept them for articles published in their journal.

I understand that this description is so generic as to preclude detailed advice but still... anyone have broadly similar experiences and suggestions for how to place this piece? thanks!

Anonymous said...

"For us peons, part of the problem is that prestige bias affects journal acceptances."

And this is such a simple-to-solve problem,.. why isn't *every* journal triple-anonymized with very strict "dont-google-articles-you-are-reviewing" criteria? (a la Ergo). In fact, couldn't the APA develop a best practices standard for journals and then journals who adopt that could advertise this?

Also, I would think journals who would like to get better and more submissions could easily do this by having great anonymizing standards, advertising this, and having quick-ish return rates. (So anyone reading who is editing a relatively middle-of-the-pack journal and wants to improve its status, take note!)

Of course, there will still be invited articles and all that, but at least refereed stuff could easily become so much more meritocratic.

Anonymous said...

Statistical analysis of gender and prestige bias in philosophy hiring, based on Carolyn Dicey Jennings data, as seen in comments on Leiter Reports.

http://genderandprestige.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mr. (I assume) person who keeps making these comments everywhere ...

The reason no one listens to you is not that we have our heads in the sand. It's just that the data doesn't justify the claims you are making that women have an advantage, since gender may be correlated with all kinds of things that are causal factors, without gender being a causal factor (for instance: area of interest. Some fields, one is expected to have a number of publications coming out of grad school. Others (e.g. history), not so much. Do women come out in higher proportion from these subfields? I don't know. Until the data controls for things like this, there's just no way of knowing. This is just one example.). And, people just may not think it's all that big of a deal EVEN IF women do have some kind of advantage.

zombie said...

11:26 has been trolling all the blogs with that "analysis"

Anonymous said...

"gender may be correlated with all kinds of things that are causal factors, without gender being a causal factor (for instance: area of interest."

Yes. I also think it possible--though of course this would be extremely hard to show--that holding fixed level of training, women's philosophical writing and work tends to be more polished and mature than their male counterparts. My theory on this is that women are (for whatever reason) less likely to get by on competitive one-upmanship in seminars, talks, etc. and thus have to prove their worth through subtle, nuanced written work. yknow, the kinds of stuff that actually matters for getting a job and being a philosopher.

I say this as someone who's built a reputation as a sharp philosopher on the basis of my in-seminar comments, etc. I have "cred" in my department, I know for a fact that my letters are crazy strong. This is mostly *not* on the basis of my writing, which has always lagged behind my reputation. It's just because I'm quick on my feet. But guess what? Being quick on your feet isn't what it takes to be a philosopher. To be a philosopher, you need to be able to work through the slog of slow, laborious, drafted and re-drafted and re-drafted, refined and re-refined written work. If you don't write anything good, you won't get a job, and you won't get published, and you won't be a philosopher.

And now I'm unemployed and have only in the last year or two really begun to craft good written work. I'm a late bloomer there. And (some) women in my department--women who never make a peep during seminar or colloquium-- have beautifully crafted, mature work and have gotten jobs. All those years I thought being a philosopher was being smart on the come-back in Q & A, they were actually doing the day in day out work and writing of being a philosopher. I'm trying to catch up now.

Anonymous said...

I imagine most would agree that all PhD programs ought to be funded, and that those that do not offer any funding ought not be offering a degree. They are ruining the lives of their students with crippling debt (and, in all likelihood, abysmal prospects, since my suspicion is that only the weakest students would be left with no choice but to pursue an unfunded PhD). So if there is a single uncontroversial reason to flag a program as unfit to award degrees, unfunded has to be it.

Anonymous said...

I write as someone who was on the job market recently and was successful and is now on a search committee for a non-tenure-track position: why are people who do not have the stated AOS applying for the job? People who are debating whether to stay or to go: please do not waste your time and Interfolio money sending applications to jobs for which you are not qualified.

Anonymous said...

10:02

As someone who has been on the job market recently, you should have learned that there are no general lessons to be learned about how to succeed on the market. Maybe your search committee wouldn't consider someone who applies outside of the AOS of your ad...then again, maybe it would (this is your first search committee, perhaps different committee have done so in the past).

In any case, I can tell you with 100% certainty that other search committees WILL consider otherwise excellent candidates who don't really match up with the AOS (though this can only be taken so far).

The fact that each search committee is really its own, sui generis, thing is part of the reason why the market is as frustrating as it is. It is utterly opaque. If anyone tells you that you definitely should or should not do something for your academic job search...grains of salt and all that jazz.

zombie said...

Because many of us have seen people get hired for jobs when they did not exactly fit the AOS. (I have twice had a campus visit where I was a match for the AOS, and the person who was ultimately hired was not.)
Because the AOS is sometimes little more than a wish list.
Because it's impossible to know what the search committee really, really wants, as opposed to what they say they want.

I was on a SC this year. Our AOS and AOC were identical, and listed only two, very specific areas. Even so, we got applications outside those areas, and we didn't consider them.

There are too few jobs to go around, so it makes sense for applicants to apply a little outside their AOS, since they cannot know what the SC will do.

Anonymous said...

"The reason no one listens to you is not that we have our heads in the sand. It's just that the data doesn't justify the claims you are making that women have an advantage, since gender may be correlated with all kinds of things that are causal factors, without gender being a causal factor"

I'm not the person who keeps posting the link, but the recent paper being talked about on several blogs seems to constitute some "data." I wonder why so many people are willing to give search committees the benefit of the doubt in this one context, while considerably fewer people are willing to do so when it comes to other criteria, such as pedigree.