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.

~zombie