Job Market Mentoring for Women Philosophers


A group of women philosophers — Amanda Greene (University of Chicago), Corinne Gartner (Wellesley College), Sarah-Jane Leslie (Princeton University), Tamar Schapiro (Stanford University), Kristin Primus (New York University), Jennifer Frey (University of South Carolina), Daniela Dover (UCLA), and Sara Bernstein (Duke University) — have created Market Boost, “a new program that matches female job candidates with junior faculty mentors who have recently been on the market.  The program seeks to provide mentoring and peer support to candidates during their job search through videoconferencing and online forums.”

A pilot version of the program began last month with 24 pairs of candidates and mentors. Its official launch, if funding is secured, will be in the summer of 2015.

According to the website:

The purpose of the program is to provide support to women candidates on the job market. Since candidates already receive advice and support from faculty in their departments, this program has a particular kind of support in mind. This is the kind of support that can only come from female peers and mentors who have very recently had a similar experience. The program has several goals:
– To connect female candidates with others in their equivalent positions at other schools.
– To provide female candidates with a “junior mentor” from an outside department, someone who has relatively recently been in their position. Having distance from the candidate’s home department will allow for a mentoring relationship that complements the candidate’s own departmental relationships, and it may even help the candidate better handle and leverage those relationships.
– To facilitate the development of relationships between candidates, their mentors (individually), and their peers (collectively). These relationships take time, as they must involve trust in order to work effectively, so the program design includes multiple points of interaction.
– To provide a structured process for interaction among candidates, peer candidates, and mentors such that candidates feel they are connected to a wider network of females who, on the one hand, have been successful in philosophy, but on the other hand, are not so far out ahead that their success seems unattainable.
– To promote confidence and resilience in female candidates.

If you are interested in serving as a mentor, you can volunteer to do so at the site.

guest
57 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anon.
6 years ago

This is a wonderful project. I will offer one small suggestion, which is to cull mentors who went to a broader range of PhDs programs and that teach at a broader range of institutions. As far as I can tell, the mentors are nearly exclusively from Leiter top 20 programs and teaching at fairly elite, almost exclusively R-1 PhD programs. These philosophers might not have experiences that can fully represent the schools candidates are coming from and the institutions where they will be interviewing.Report

Mortimer Dubois
Mortimer Dubois
6 years ago

I am skeptical that this team will promote the diversity philosophy needs. Look at the undergraduate institutions they attended:

– Amanda Greene: BA, UNC Chapel Hill
– Corinne Gartner: BA, Stanford
– Sarah-Jane Lesley: BA, Rutgers
– Tamar Shapiro: BA, Yale
– Kristin Primus: BA, Stanford
– Jennifer Frey: BA, Indiana-Bloomington
– Daniela Dover: BA, Yale
– Sara Bernstein: AB, ChicagoReport

Amanda Greene
Amanda Greene
6 years ago

Dear Anon, thank you for raising this excellent point. It is an issue that the team is very sensitive to. To some degree the set of pilot mentors reflects who we were able to personally recruit on short notice this year. In future years we would like to expand the pool of mentors for just the reasons you identify. So we would be very grateful if you and others could forward this announcement to all women faculty you know who have landed a permanent job in the past 6 years, asking that they get in touch with the project team. By the time the project fully launches next year, we’d like to have assembled a pool of mentors that covers a wider range of institutions.Report

Skeptic
Skeptic
6 years ago

Given the privileged background of practically everyone on the Market Boost (eww) team, I doubt that this initiative will work to the benefit of the disadvantaged, all things considered.Report

Anotheranon
Anotheranon
6 years ago

Dr Greene, are you saying that you will divide mentors and mentees into separate classes by pedigree?Report

Sherri Irvin
6 years ago

These mentors have successfully navigated the academic job market, and that’s in part because they have benefited from advice, skills and strategies that were made available to them during their training. Now they are offering to extend those resources to others, including those who have not attended top-ranked institutions. (From the web site: the aim is to “reproduc[e] the most successful placement support that occurs at top programs, including mentoring, review and feedback on dossiers, and interview practice.”) One effect of this is to share the benefits of privilege among a wider group of people, and I applaud the people who have initiated the program for this: sharing of privilege can be an effective strategy for fostering diversity and promoting the success of members of disadvantaged groups. To my mind, the key is to make sure that program clearly signals that this mentorship opportunity is not mainly designed *for* white women with prestigious academic pedigree (even if it is designed *by* such women). I think some of the comments above are picking up on the fact that right now, the project may not be signaling this entirely effectively.

As Anon suggests in comment 1, it’s important that mentors be able to advise candidates who are not from top-ranked programs and who are not searching exclusively for R1 jobs. If each job candidate has only one mentor, then each mentor needs to be able to advise the candidate on a wide range of scenarios. Recruiting a broader array of mentors and then establishing a mechanism for mentors’ drawing on each other’s knowledge may be more effective than any scheme to match mentors to candidates who are similar on some dimensions.

Women of color, women with disabilities, queer women, and trans women all tend to face special challenges on the job market, and there need to be mentors who can be called upon to advise these candidates about those specific challenges. Indeed, I’d like to see the program (or a similar program) extended to people of all genders who belong to underrepresented groups.Report

Anotheranon
Anotheranon
6 years ago

“Recruiting a broader array of mentors and then establishing a mechanism for mentors’ drawing on each other’s knowledge may be more effective than any scheme to match mentors to candidates who are similar on some dimensions.”

I still don’t see how this will, in practice, be different from mentor-streaming by pedigree level.Report

Sherri Irvin
6 years ago

Pooling mentors’ knowledge, so that candidates have access even to knowledge that did not originate with their own mentors, is completely independent of “mentor-streaming by pedigree level.” It is consistent with models on which candidates and mentors are randomly matched and even with models on which they are reverse-matched (so that candidates with less prestigious pedigrees are matched with mentors with more prestigious pedigrees and vice versa).Report

Anotheranon
Anotheranon
6 years ago

Oh I see. Not how this group operates, going by their own description.Report

Anotheranon
Anotheranon
6 years ago

Thought experiment. Imagine a few versions of these “Market Boost” programs, all run by successful individuals who are members of the boosted minority:

– “Market Boost Program for Women Philosophers”
– “Market Boost Program for Blue-Collar Philosophers”
– “Market Boost Program for Black Philosophers”
– “Market Boost Program for Asian Philosophers”
– “Market Boost Program for Non-English Speaking Philosophers”
– “Market Boost Program for Disabled Philosophers”
– “Market Boost Program for LGBT Philosophers”

And so on. Which program do you think would find it easiest to achieve its aim of boosting its members’s market chances? And, given that the market is zero-sum, at whose expense would that success be achieved? I doubt that the most privileged group will lose jobs to the least privileged (i.e. the most disadvantaged). Probably the second most privileged group will gain jobs at the expense of the least privileged group. So these programs may be well-meaning, but without serious attention to intersectionality they’ll make the situation worse for the most disadvantaged among us.Report

Jennifer Frey
6 years ago

Mortimer: You seem to be saying that mentoring young women in philosophy would not contribute to diversity in the field (or, at least, not the kind of diversity philosophy “needs”). You are entitled to your opinion, but you should at least explain why you hold it. Why wouldn’t philosophy benefit from having more female voices? Why should we rest content with its being a mostly male dominated enterprise?

Mortimor and skeptic: You both also imply or state that we members of the steering team are unqualified to mentor, or to start up this program of mentorship, because we have attended certain undergraduate institutions. This is a strange argument. You are either saying that we are too privileged to help anyone (because successful people should clearly never help anyone else achieve success!), or you are saying that we’ll only help those who are as privileged as ourselves. The first argument seems ridiculous, and the second relies on extremely uncharitable assumptions about our characters and motives. Neither is remotely justified.

But let’s address some of your assumptions. Speaking for myself, I went to a large state school because that’s what I could afford and was within my reach (my family is solidly working class, my father a forklift operator, my mother a third grade teacher). I stuck with philosophy despite the fact that I often felt alone and isolated as a female major. While I don’t claim to be a victim, I’m also hardly a poster child of privilege, and I certainly have faced my fair share of uphill battles to get where I am. Moreover, I hardly consider IU-Bloomington a bastion of elitism. I mean, I’m a proud Hoosier and all, but that institution is hardly pumping out the next generation of the ruling classes. But suppose I did go to Harvard or Yale, and suppose my parents were enormously wealthy. This would still not prove that I am unqualified to help others attain success on the job market, nor would it show that I should not try to help them.

Finally, market boost does not pretend to be a magic fix to the discipline’s longstanding problems with diversity. We are a pilot program that hopes to expand in the future and broaden its reach, but we recognize that what we do (while important) is limited. Like Amanda, I am aware that we could provide mentors from a broader range of institutions beyond R1 schools, and that is precisely the reason we are advertising our program: in order to get more volunteers to mentor, so that we can reach a broader range of women on the market. We do hope that if our program is successful and attains broad support, it can be a model for other programs that address other needs, including addressing problems of diversity that go beyond gender.Report

Mortimer Dubois
Mortimer Dubois
6 years ago

Jennifer: thanks for the reply. I think my concerns have been articulated more clearly by Anotheranon in the post immediately above yours.Report

Mortimer Dubois
Mortimer Dubois
6 years ago

P.S. In a nutshell: gender diversity bought at the expense of class or race diversity is not worth buying.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

There’s a lot of anger from white male graduate students about the job market. And I suspect many of the objections to this program are coming from young white men who have misdirected their anger toward those they (falsely) believe to have unfairly benefited from diversity initiatives.

But abstracting from that, the concerns aren’t unwarranted. Thus far, this looks like a program that will not be of value to the folks most underrepresented in the philosophy profession (e.g., black philosophers, women who are not white and from top programs, disabled philosophers, intersections among these groups, etc.). I’d highly encourage the creators to do their best address these issues *now*, and not only “in future years” or after the program has been created.Report

Sherri Irvin
6 years ago

Matt Drabek says, “Thus far, this looks like a program that will not be of value to the folks most underrepresented in the philosophy profession (e.g., black philosophers, women who are not white and from top programs, disabled philosophers, intersections among these groups, etc.).”

This strikes me as false. If women of color, disabled women philosophers, women who are not from top departments, etc., seek out mentorship through this program, the program is likely to be a big asset to their readiness for the job market. (I do think that the program needs to take explicit measures to address the specific intersectional challenges that some women will face.)

My worry about signaling (in comment 6 above) is about whether women who are not white and are not in top programs and/or not primarily seeking R1 jobs will infer, based on the way the program is presented and who is heading it, that the program is not for them. It would be good to take specific measures to counteract that. But I think that if they do get the signal that the program is for them, it will likely be of great benefit to them. Having someone to help you prepare your materials, be interview-ready, troubleshoot issues that come up along the way, etc., can be a huge asset, especially to someone who is in a department without a strong placement program.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

Sherri, you’re certainly right that any program that helps someone prep their materials, be interview-ready, etc. is going to help that person on the market. But anyone on the market would benefit from that. I took it that a main goal of this program is to help underrepresented philosophers on the market qua underrepresented philosophers on the market (i.e., not merely addressing preparatory issues everyone on the market faces). And it seems that the program is thus far inadequate to do that without an effort to take intersectionality into account.Report

Jennifer Frey
6 years ago

It strikes me that there is a kind of confusion going on in this thread that needs to be addressed. First, because we focus on gender, this does not mean that we are discriminating against other factors that are included in diversity. The fact that we have focused on gender issues does not mean that we believe that only gender matters to diversity, nor is it even good evidence that we think this. As a woman who has been through this process twice already, I am well aware of the unique problems and pressures that women on the market face as women, and so I am in a position to help other women develop strategies to address them. Women do face certain gendered assumptions and expectations that work against them on the job market. This is a fact, and our program seeks to help women navigate these issues; there are other issues that affect other groups, and hopefully there will be other philosophers who are well qualified to address those issues who can attempt something similar to what we are trying to do. As it stands, we welcome and are actively soliciting all female mentors, from all types of programs and backgrounds. The reason we are advertising our pilot program is to broaden the range of both mentors and mentees.

Because the steering committee is white does not mean that all the mentors are white (they are not, just look at the list), or that we are only mentoring white women (we will not release that information, but we are mentoring an ethnically diverse group of young women). The only qualification is that a mentor be a woman who has recently been on the market, who can help other women prepare for that experience. This allows for plenty of intersectionality should the relevant volunteers come forward.

The idea that we should not have a program until it is perfect is worse than strange, it actively works against positive change in the profession, which is our goal. If we were to attempt to make a better and more expansive program, we need funding and commitment from a broad range of philosophers. We launched a website in order to generate support for funding and commitment from a much broader range of philosophers than we have currently assembled.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

Thanks, Jennifer, for helping run the program and responding. I think it’s a fantastic idea and I’m glad people have done the work here (and I’m sorry that my original comment didn’t convey this). I was also under the impression that the people listed in this post were the only mentors in the program. I think there are still issues largely of the sort already described, but the mentor list is in fact more diverse than I originally took the list to be.Report

Tammy
Tammy
6 years ago

Why not a “market boost program for underrepresented groups in philosophy”? Seems to me the concerns of Matt, Mortimer, Anotheranon and others above would thereby be resolved.Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
6 years ago

So happy this exists! Thanks to the good folks who created and are sustaining this.Report

NthAnon
NthAnon
6 years ago

Another way to look at this: a group of apparently very privileged white women sets up a program to help a group of hand-picked women whose identity they won’t disclose get jobs. And we’re supposed to be relaxed about it, because there are plenty of jobs out there for everyone, right?Report

anonymous prof
anonymous prof
6 years ago

I don’t think I entirely understand the objections to this program. Here are two facts.

1. Women are underrepresented in philosophy
2. Women face unique challenges on the job market that men do not face.

If you don’t think these are facts, then that’s an entirely different discussion. But presuming they are, it is not unreasonable to think that the second fact has something to do with the first fact. It isn’t the whole story. It may not even be the most important factor. But to the extent that it has any role to play, why wouldn’t it be a good thing to try and help with the second fact?

Now, given that there are no restrictions on who can receive the mentoring (besides being a woman), why should we think that it will only mentor white upperclass women from top programs? Because the mentors fit this description? Well, that’s not universally true, at least not the upperclass part. But it strikes me as incredibly uncharitable to simply assume that these women can only (or are only) mentoring women from privileged backgrounds.

These women have gone out of their way to start a program that will help a lot of people. That they are largely receiving complaints is depressing (though, unfortunately, not surprising).Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

I am getting a bit worried by the direction this discussion is taking with respect to privileged white women. There are different kinds of privilege, and someone can be subject to male privilege yet suffer from class privilege. Similarly, a woman can find it difficult to obtain the sort of mentorship that men easily get from male senior professors, yet enjoy class and white privilege. This project seems to me a great way to help women overcome such problems.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

it looks like many people are confusing the steering committee with the list of mentors. Before complaining and criticizing, it might be prudent to actually look at the website of the program you are knocking.Report

Keisha
Keisha
6 years ago

I have read the comments that people have posted and I’m completely taken aback. I am a black woman who is on the market for the second time and I think this is a fabulous idea and wish that I knew about it last year. On the market women face challenges that men cannot understand just as I cannot understand what it is like to be a white male on the market. When you are faced with a completely sexist question from your interviewer and you know that answering appropriately, meaning not in a way that explicitly tells your interviewer that you think he is sexist, is the difference between a job and not a job, preparation matters.
Luckily, I had female advisors that prepared me for these kinds of questions, but none of my male advisors prepared me for this. They had the assumption that my gender would not matter, only my merit. They were wrong.

To attack the organizers of this group for their privilege (which largely seems to be a big assumption on the part of the commenters because all we know is that they have the privilege of going to a great school, we have no information about the work that it took for them to get there and to get in their current respective positions) is to say that privileged people cannot and ought not to help an under-privileged group, which is just ridiculous. This group seems to be a big step for a neglected situation in philosophy. As a black woman philosopher I do not feel neglected by this group, nor do I support the idea that this group should change it’s focus to “all under represented groups.” Targeting one group is not unheard of in the world and has some merit because there will be some overlap (there are racial minority women, racial minority women LGBTQ, racial minority disabled philosophers). Some times individual groups need individual mentors, and that’s okay.

A lot of the backlash that this organizers are receiving seems to be the same backlash that women have always gotten when we try to help each other. The “what about me” or the “now me, the formerly advantaged group (white males) will become the disadvantaged group and now I’m afraid” sentiment is prevalent in this thread. The backlash from white male academics is something that I’ve had to deal with since forever and I have no response to it because I have yet to figure out how I feel about it.

However, to the organizers, you are in great company because what woman in academia or woman trying to change the world hasn’t faced this? So to the organizers, I appreciate your work. I think you are doing a fabulous thing for the profession that many others aren’t willing to do and I would suggest that you just stop reading the comments (after mine of course).Report

Derek Bowman
6 years ago

I think it is worth separating out two elements from some of the critical comments that have been raised.

The first is simply to point out the limitations and potential limitations of this effort.

The second is to suggest that these limitations are reasons against starting such a program.

I think the first point is well taken, but that the proper response is to have more mentoring by more people – whether through this group or through separate initiatives. Surely the best way to expand mentoring opportunities is for groups like this one to begin, expand their membership, and for others to follow their example (or set even better examples).

As to the further worry that this is just redistributing advantages in a zero-sum market, I just think that’s not true. Efforts at mentoring others outside of tradition channels helps to create new personal connections among philosophers, giving those who have succeeded (at the job market) a vested interest in the fate of those who are still struggling. Sometimes this will result in the mentored person joining the tenure-track club. But when it doesn’t, it gives those who have mentored them a more direct, personal stake in the damage we do to one another through the present job market.

The value of those connections transcends particular outcomes on the job market, and they aren’t zero-sum.Report

Hilary Bok
Hilary Bok
6 years ago

I am not sure why this effort should even be controversial. The main concern seems to be that the success of women will come at the expense of other underrepresented groups; why not found a similar organization for them? I would support any such group, just as I support this one. But this isn’t a reason for thee organizers of this group not to do what they’re doing, nor do I see how they, in particular, could have done anything else. Should the people who founded this one have decided instead to start an organization to help mentor people *whose specific job market problems many of them have not encountered*? Of course not. So are they supposed to wait until all the other unrepresented groups’ problems have been addressed before they address the problems women face? Why would this strike anyone as a good idea?

Why not just pitch in, each with the advice and support they have to offer, and try to solve as many problems as we can?Report

Matt Teichman
6 years ago

I am really excited to learn about this project–I will get the word out about it to all my students.Report

C.K. Egbert
C.K. Egbert
6 years ago

Keisha–Thank you for making these excellent points. I can’t help but feel the criticism directed at women trying to help other women just reinforces the idea that women must put the needs/interests/wants of others before their own.

As a (biracial/white) graduate student (dealing with a disability), I would also welcome such an initiative.

If people are concerned about other underrepresented groups, why not just prioritize mentorship for women who belong, e.g., to racially minoritized groups?Report

Jen Morton
Jen Morton
6 years ago

Reading this thread makes me incredibly depressed about the profession. Why is philosophy so conservative? Any well-meaning attempt at change is met with such vehement resistance that it makes me wonder whether we will ever be able to evolve past the navel-gazing certainty that the way we do things cannot be improved upon. First, it is incredibly unhelpful to assume that because someone went to an elite school that person is immediately disqualified from contributing to diversity in the profession. As a first-generation minority woman who went to elite undergraduate and graduate programs, I am deeply offended by that implication. Second, job market mentoring cannot make up for lack of qualifications. As a search committee member, I can assure you that no amount of mentoring will make up for a lack of publications, a shoddy writing sample, etc. Mentoring is a form of additional support for those candidates who have the requisite qualifications but due to other factors face additional hurdles in the job market that other candidates don’t face (i.e. discrimination). Finally, we can see this is a pilot program that supports positive change in the profession or as an inadequate solution to all the problems that plague philosophy. Perhaps I am being naïve, but I’d rather see it as the first. Seeing it as the second just seems to amount to whiny complacency.Report

Cristina Carrillo
Cristina Carrillo
6 years ago

This is a *wonderful* initiative. Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers for creating this much needed program!Report

Rusty Jones
Rusty Jones
6 years ago

Wow, the women on the mentor list whom I know personally are a wonderful bunch, from a variety of backgrounds, cutting across quite a few sub demographics, teaching at very different institutions, and having taken different paths to and through grad school and beyond. The idea that their collective wisdom and experiences are applicable only to a narrow group of “privileged” women just doesn’t ring true at all. And they are a busy and productive bunch, while still taking time to work with others. That reminds me, I’ve got to cut this comment short and get back to that article on malicious pleasure in Plato’s Philebus.Report

anonymous prof
anonymous prof
6 years ago

I think the negative comments on this thread may misrepresent the general attitude toward the program. Some negative comments were made by individuals who mistook the list of steering committee members for the list of mentors (the latter is actually quite diverse and I imagine it will only become more so now that the program has been advertised). Then, of course, there was the sockpuppeting of comments that are basically cut and pasted from a thread on the metametablog.

I think the organizers should be proud of what they have done (on their own time and without compensation). Many people talk about change but do nothing. I think we should do what we can to support the program and the efforts of all of those who go out of their way to effect positive change in our profession. I hope they get further funding through the APA or through another source so that they can expand and enrich the program.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

Anonymous prof is right. I took it from the original post and the early discussion (much of which was done by trolls, as several people point out) that the steering committee constituted the entire mentor list. The actual mentor list is far more diverse in several different ways than the steering committee, and it looks like the steering committee has in fact done much of the work I was calling for them to do. So they deserve to be commended both for creating the program and for working to diversify it.Report

Keisha
Keisha
6 years ago

I agree. These criticisms seem to be a classic case of “oh no, better stop those pesky women from trying to get ahead in a system that doesn’t do enough to make sure that they are a part of the system.” Yes, there are a lot of underrepresented groups in philosophy. I’ve seen some organizations that target those other groups but I have not seen any that target women. Even if the other groups are few and far between that is not grounds to not help the population that this group targets.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

Keisha, I think a lot depends on the results of empirical work into underrepresentation. What we know from the current work is that women are underrepresented (many studies) and that this underrepresentation tends to get exacerbated in the US at the undergraduate major stage (study by Paxton et al. in Hypatia) and at other stages in the UK (I’m a little less familiar with the name of the study offhand…I’d have to look it up).

Unfortunately we don’t know a lot about how that breaks down by other demographics. We do know from a study (I believe Kristie Dotson has commented on it in her work) that black women are even more underrepresented than women as a whole. And there’s plenty of speculation that the same is the case among disabled women, Latinas, queer women, et al. Until there’s more detailed empirical work here, we don’t really know whether a program aimed at the advancement of women qua women would be better than a program aimed at the advancement of black women qua black person, or black women qua black women (and et al., for other folks), or any person qua philosopher. We also don’t know whether there are any groups of women who *aren’t* underrepresented. My suspicion from the research I’ve seen is that a particular sort of woman (white, from a top grad program, working on mainstream analytic philosophy, cisgender) in fact isn’t underrepresented in philosophy relative to her presence in the class of folks who have PhDs in the field. But that’s a story that the research hasn’t yet told.

None of this is to say that programs shouldn’t go forward. They should, and I’m glad they are. But they ought to go forward under the knowledge that a lot more work is still needed on how underrepresentation intersects with identities, and which sorts programs might be most successful. Indeed, they help contribute to that work!Report

Clerk Shaw
Clerk Shaw
6 years ago

I just wanted to voice agreement with the comments from Hilary Bok and Rusty Jones above. (I would use the up-voting mechanism, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me.)Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

I think much of the controversy could have been avoided by not calling this a “market boost”. First, Carolyn Dicey-Jennings’ data (http://www.newappsblog.com/2014/06/job-placements-2011-2014-first-report.html) shows that women who got tenure-track jobs had, on average, half the number of publications that men had. Second, Dicey-Jennings’ data shows that women are getting TT jobs at a higher percentage than they are getting PhDs. And third, many jobs are earmarked specifically for women, whereas none are (at least explicitly) solely for men. Based on these, some men think that women are already get a substantial “market boost”. But of course women face many difficulties on the job market, difficulties that male faculty members know nothing of, and so some sort of mentoring is natural and beneficial. But to explicitly state that it’s intended to give women what many men will consider yet another boost for the job market is bound to raise some hackles.Report

Eric Brown
6 years ago

Because I share Jen Morton’s dismay about the quick negative reactions, I want to add a note of cheer. I thank those who have started this program and who are defending it here. The program won’t solve every problem, but it will, I’m confident, based on what I know of those involved, help those I’d like to see helped. Change typically prompts opposition from those who benefit most from the status quo, but I believe that those cheering this particular change far outnumber those jeering. Things will continue to get better.Report

Keisha
Keisha
6 years ago

I don’t think anything that you have said in the first paragraph is relative here. As you mention in your second paragraph, none of that matters about how this program advances. I think it’s simple. There’s a need, we address it. This does not mean that there aren’t other needs, or that the other needs are less important. We can’t expect this group of philosophers to address all of the problems of philosophy. I’m sure the organizers aren’t not blind to the many problems of philosophy. I give them more credit than that. What programs for other groups might be successful ought not to be a particular concern for this group as long as they can foresee success for this program, which I’m sure they do. They see a need, they’re addressing it. Simple.Report

David
David
6 years ago

I don’t really see how at least the organizing committee can be viewed as ‘teaching at very different institutions’, so R. Jones’ comment seems rather disingenuous to me. On the contrary, they teach exclusively at R1 or otherwise elite schools. Now, perhaps that means that they are specially qualified to help other women through the job process, and if so, great! But I find it a bit depressing that they apparently didn’t invite any of their colleagues or friends from less elite positions onto the organizing committee. At the very least, this reinforces an unattractively hierarchical and competitive picture of the profession. So, while I strongly support the mission of the group, I would urge them to add philosophers from a broader spectrum of institutions onto the organizing board.Report

Kristina Gehrman
Kristina Gehrman
6 years ago

As someone participating in MarketBoost as a mentor I have to say that I don’t give much weight to the snarly negative comments that were posted early on. I have more faith in our professional community than to think that’s representative. But it is alarming how successfully those comments were able to shape the tone, content, and orientation of the ensuing discussion. Justin, it would seem appropriate to me to block all comments from anyone who is caught in the act of trolling, especially on this particular issue in our profession at this moment. If people have the guts to sign their real name to nasty, negative, misleading, obfuscatory things they say on the internet, then I would be most happy to allow their comments to stand so that others can evaluate them on their merits.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

How do you “vote” on comments? I don’t seem to be able to.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

First, polite and reasoned disagreement is not trolling. Second, statements can be evaluated on their merits regardless of whose name is attached to them.Report

AA
AA
6 years ago

@ Kristina Gehrman: since it’s clear what the “New Consensus” is (same as the old one, but more civil and with a better mix of chromosomes), it’s understandable that people won’t post critical comments under their own name. Your definition of trolling as “whoever criticizes something endorsed by Justin” is a rather capacious one, and it smacks of censorship.Report

Rusty Jones
Rusty Jones
6 years ago

David: “Disingenuous”? Come on. At least get my claim right before you pull out the snark. I made a claim about some of the women doing the work of mentoring. To discover who they are, you actually have to click beyond this page, rather than just posting the first negative reaction that comes to mind based only on information from the first three lines of the blog post. These women do teach at different types of institutions and they come from different types of institutions. But that wasn’t the main point of what I posted. The main point is that (several of) these are people I have come to know and respect and trust. I know something about their backgrounds, something about their personal lives, and quite a bit about their scholarship. They are all successful but very different people. There are many different aspects to them as persons besides their being women and besides their being philosophy professors. And when I think of some of the special challenges some women will face, in addition to the challenges they face qua women, I see people on that list who are very well positioned to be an effective supporter in the face of such challenges.

So, I posted to support these women whom I know and trust in the face of sneakily undermining comments that take the form: “I’m a huge supporter of this mission, but [insert negative rant].” [Insert Justin’s latest comment here.] I’m not trying to persuade anyone, least of all some semi-anonymous commenter. Nor am I trying to argue that the pilot program is already optimal in every possible respect. I’m simply standing beside my colleagues who are developing (notice the progressive) a worthwhile program, and who deserve at least that small effort in light of their great efforts. Would that there were more people standing beside them and fewer people making it necessary.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

Justin asks: “since when is the sincere expression of concern for the least well-off the kind of thing that gets one in any kind of “trouble?”

Since the time when it became passable in polite company to describe those views as “snarly” and “nasty, negative, misleading, obfuscatory.” This cannot be a mystery, can it?

I do applaud you for allowing good-faith discussion, and not simply turning this space into an echo chamber.Report

observer
observer
6 years ago

David said: “I find it a bit depressing that they apparently didn’t invite any of their colleagues or friends from less elite positions onto the organizing committee. At the very least, this reinforces an unattractively hierarchical and competitive picture of the profession.”

I think that is a large part of what caused the negative reactions here. It’s a general skepticism about the modus operandi of people who appear to be quite elitist. The quasi-corporate language of the website (“Market boost”?) doesn’t help either. Maybe those are irrational attitudes, but it’s easy to see why many not-so-privileged people would symphatize with them.Report

anonymous prof
anonymous prof
6 years ago

What is the big deal with “quasi-corporate” language? Almost everything done at a university is expressed in this vernacular. I’m sure some of these comments are coming from those not already in possession of an academic job that allows them to go to department meetings and sit on various university boards and committees and I’m sure many of them have not written a grant proposal. But this kind of language isn’t peculiar and it doesn’t speak to elitism. It is just a part of university based professionalism.Report

observer
observer
6 years ago

It’s precisely because I have tenure and go to such admin meetings that I abhor corporate language. “Professionalism” is to be resisted if it’s a conduit for managerialism, as managerialism is inimical to academic freedom and self-governance. It’s disheartening to see managerialist language creep into a program devoted to social justice.Report

anonymous prof
anonymous prof
6 years ago

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of this kind of corporate admin speak. I was just objecting to the implication that this contributed to an appearance of elitism or should lead one to be skeptical about the modus operandi of anyone.Report

observer
observer
6 years ago

But my point isn’t about skepticism about motives. I wouldn’t want to speculate about that. It’s skepticism about internalized values. I agree, though, that elitism and managerialism are separate things. The problem is that there is evidence of both in the Market Boost program.Report

Gretchen Ellefson
Gretchen Ellefson
6 years ago

I’d like to register my appreciation for this program. It looks like an incredibly valuable resource for women in philosophy, and I’m very grateful to the organizers and contributors.Report

p
p
6 years ago

For what it’s worth, I do not see this particular initiative as anything remarkable, in the sense that it should be either controversial or somehow misguided. I do think that there is, in some general sense, something funny about any job market initiative that aims to help people across the board since job market is, after all, about beating your competition and so, ultimately, about being better prepared than others rather than about being equally well prepared. Still, it seems to be a nice and sincere idea and I hope it will be useful. However, I do not agree with people who are already singing praises – it’s unclear whether it will in fact be useful or helpful or a good resource. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. No results yet. Only time will show if people will like it. Good luck though!!Report