New Study on Gender and Program-Prestige in Tenure-Track Hiring of Philosophers


Market outcomes starting in 2014 and going back 10 years offer no evidence women are at a disadvantage in tenure-track competitions.

That’s the primary finding of a study by Sean Allen-Hermanson, associate professor of philosophy at Florida International University. The study, “Leaky Pipeline Myths: In Search of Gender Effects on the Job Market and Early Career Publishing in Philosophy,” was recently published in Frontiers in Psychology.

The study focuses chiefly on the Academic Placement Data and Analysis (APDA) work of Carolyn Dicey Jennings (UC Merced). Allen-Hermanson argues that the APDA findings strongly support the conclusion that “men are significantly less likely to obtain permanent positions.” Additionally, “female candidates had about half as many publications as their male counterparts.” He adds, “men and women appear to be held to different standards.”

When it comes to the prestige of a candidate’s PhD-granting department, Allen-Hermanson notes that “program prestige correlated positively with the output of high-quality publications regardless of gender.”

Additionally,

there was evidence candidates from relatively lower prestige institutions lack upward mobility: Whereas top candidates of either gender could expect to find a position at a Gourmet-ranked institution a bit less than half the time, this was true of other candidates only 7–8 percent of the time… This might indicate that there are, in effect, two semi-independent job markets. In terms of outcomes, there seems to be a top-20 market mostly closed to non-elite candidates and a non-top-20 market open to all.

 

The whole study is here.

Figure 8 from “Leaky Pipeline Myths: In Search of Gender Effects on the Job Market and Early Career Publishing in Philosophy”

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gull
gull
4 years ago

As someone who was intimately involved in the job market this year, I can only say that I have a great deal of (anecdotal, non-scientific) evidence that it was a year in which women were given unprecedented hiring priority.

I hope that scientific data comes out for this year soon, so that my impression can either be corrected or we can start to have a serious conversation about whether this is the right way to fix our discipline’s representation problem. I hope everyone can agree, at least, that it is better and more fair to fix pipelines where they actually leak.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  gull
4 years ago

As a person who has chaired three search committees and served on four, I can personally testify to the truth of gull’s first paragraph.Report

Professor Plum
Professor Plum
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

I think it is poor form for a chair of a hiring committee, commenting under his own name, to make this statement knowing that, in the current environment, it will cast aspersions on whoever was hired or interviewed by his committee.

Personally, I’m heartened by Allen-Hermanson’s finding because I think there are good reasons for affirmative action for women in philosophy. I also support affirmative action for people of color, people of low SES, and those who hold marginalized viewpoints.

Maybe someday we won’t need affirmative action in philosophy, but until then we ought to stop stigmatizing AA hires and also stop pretending that departments aren’t engaging in AA when clearly they are (and should be).Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Professor Plum
4 years ago

Who’s stigmatizing? I’m simply indicating that it’s a priority and that people should not suggest that institutions aren’t paying attention to it. Indeed, we take it quite seriously. Why would you suggest it’s stigmatizing, if you think it is appropriate?

Also, you are the first person I’ve heard suggest that it is *more* honorable to post anonymously than to use your own name. That one gave me a good chuckle. But then again, I’m old.Report

Professor Plum
Professor Plum
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

In the current environment, where many departments are pretending they aren’t using AA, it is stigmatizing to out people as AA hires or candidates. I would hope that eventually we could acknowledge AA as a just corrective mechanism and there would be no shame in being an AA hire, but we all know we aren’t there yet (and ultimately I would hope we wouldn’t need it at all, but we are a long, long way from that).Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Professor Plum
4 years ago

We are a public university. Not only do we not pretend we are not AA, we are required by law to advertise that we are. And we are *very* happy with our hires. The hire before our last — a woman — is the only person in our department’s entire history to get early tenure.

I just think it is absurd for people to suggest that people in our profession aren’t trying to do something about the women in philosophy issue or that we don’t treat it as if it’s important. Nothing could be farther from the truth.Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

hi Gina,
in fact, I am not making the inference that you suggest I am. I know that disabled philosophers and disabled philosophers of disability especially are marginalized and indeed virtually excluded from philosophy based on a number of factors that I have examined in a number of articles and reviews. If you are interested in my arguments, you could start with an article entitled “Introducing feminist philosophy of disability.” I quoted the figures that I did in order give a snapshot of the extent of the underrepresentation to which I referred.Report

Gina
Gina
Reply to  Shelley Tremain
4 years ago

Shelley, here’s the dictionary definition of the word you’re using: “marginalize: to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group.”

If you have shown elsewhere that some people are successfully marginalizing disabled philosophers, please summarize that case for us.Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

Professor Plum wrote: “I think there are good reasons for affirmative action for women in philosophy. I also support affirmative action for people of color, people of low SES, and those who hold marginalized viewpoints.”

Professor Plum, I agree with you that affirmative action program should not be stigmatized or undermined in other ways. Did you know that disabled people are among the most people in contemporary society and one of the most marginalized, if not excluded, groups in philosophy? For instance, there are NO disabled philosophers of disability employed in philosophy departments in Canada. There is one nondisabled philosopher of disability employed in a philosophy department in Canada.

Despite what the boilerplate flourishes at the end of philosophy job postings claim, disabled philosophers routinely are not covered or even considered by department efforts for affirmative action. Indeed, I know of one philosophy department in the UK that has repeatedly undermined an affirmative policy that its university has introduced which specifically targets disabled academics who comprise less than 3% of the all of the faculty employed at UK universities.Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
Reply to  Shelley Tremain
4 years ago

My apologies, Professor Plum.
The sentence should read: “Did you know that disabled people are among the most marginalized and disenfranchised people in contemporary society and one of the most marginalized, if not excluded, groups in philosophy?”

Also: the figure of 3% would be more salient if I had indicated that disabled people make up an estimated 18-20% of the general UK population.Report

Gina
Gina
Reply to  Shelley Tremain
4 years ago

Shelley Tremain,

Do you still not see the fallacy of inferring, from the fact that the percentage of Xes in professional philosophy is lower than the percentage of Xes in the general population, that Xes have been “marginalized” — forced to the margins — in professional philosophy?Report

Gina
Gina
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

Yes. Very unpersuasive. But forget that word if you like. Can’t you see that the inference is bad?Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  gull
4 years ago

Based on my own experiences on multiple hiring committes at a single institution, getting a female candidate was routinely prioritized over getting the best candidate. I did not protest because I was scared of the backlash for doing so.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Hey Nonny Mouse
4 years ago

As I indicated earlier, I’ve chaired three committees and been on four, and we have always been strongly incentivized by upper administration to make “diversity hires,” which includes women. I would be stunned if mine was an atypical case. We are about the most typical university you can find. Public, midwest, MA, but no PhD programs or medical school. The sort of school at which most ordinary Americans get their educations.Report

gull
gull
Reply to  gull
4 years ago

I want to clarify the position I was taking in this initial comment: it’s perfectly reasonable, given various factors affecting female philosophers, to have an AA program to help correct for biases. But there is a world of difference between the slight overall preference reported by CDJ and what seems (to me) to have gone on this year, which is a much more powerful overall preference for female candidates.

There is a point (I am not necessarily saying we are there) at which it becomes radically unjust to even admit male PhD students, unless you explicitly tell them that your discipline is going to make it next to impossible to secure a good job even *if* they work hard to outperform their competitors. There must be a point at which the strength of the overall preference becomes unjust, and when you look around at this year’s hires, it’s hard not to worry that we might be approaching that point.

I should also have stressed that the data we have (see the studies by Nahimas et al) shows that our pipeline leaks at the 1st-year undergraduate level. If there is a fairer and more just solution, it involves fixing that leak, so that eventual job applicants are as close to 50-50 as we can get. I urge departments to fight the war on both fronts and not to take the lazy way out, which is to make the diversity hire and forget about the fact that your female undergrads find your classes uninspiring and often pointless.Report

ori
ori
Reply to  gull
4 years ago

Actually, gull, there is evidence to suggest that only 40% of enrollers to even an *introductory* philosophy course are women. So the pipeline leaks, as you say, even earlier. That is, if it is really a leak. I take leak to suggest that there is a bad societal interference with the natural interests of women regarding philosophy, and that they are so bad they need fixing.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  ori
4 years ago

That’s interesting, because in my own experience there has been a most definite “guy drain” over the last 5-10 years, in my introductory level courses, to the point at which women reliably make up a solid majority. I understand that this is true for college enrollments of women in general.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/03/28/look-how-women-outnumber-men-college-campuses-nationwide/YROqwfCPSlKPtSMAzpWloK/story.html

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/06/womens-college-enrollment-gains-leave-men-behind/Report

ori
ori
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

Thanks Daniel for the info. The evidence I was speaking of is that in Paxton et. al, 2102:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/j.1527-2001.2012.01306.x/fullReport

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  ori
4 years ago

Certainly, with respect to Majors and upper-division courses, the majority of the students are male. But my experience has been that in Introductory level courses, the opposite is the case and significantly so. This would make sense given that Introductory level courses at our university satisfy General Education requirements and thus, are representative of the student population more generally, which, as all the surveys show, is weighted towards women. In my classes, it may be as much as 55/45.

I have not read the Hypatia piece, but I wonder if they distinguish between Introductory level courses that are part of the Gen Ed curriculum and those that are not. In our introductory level courses, something like 90+ percent of the students will never take another philosophy course again, so that would explain the difference given that — as I explained earlier — gen ed courses much more closely match the general student population in terms of male/female ratios.

If trends continue this way, I expect our student population to be 60/40 female to male, and then we’re going to have a whole new problem on our hands. Given that affirmative action seems unlikely, I wonder how we’re going to handle it.Report

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
4 years ago

Some errors from a first pass:

Jennings should be Jennings et al. in several places

“While technically true, however, this was only because in 2016 they elected not to examine this low hanging fruit.” This is false. We did examine it, but made changes to the model. See here for the later data with the earlier model: http://blog.apaonline.org/2016/05/03/academic-placement-data-and-analysis-an-update-with-a-focus-on-gender/

“Another noteworthy finding obtained from Jennings’ earlier results is that female candidates had about half as many publications as their male counterparts.” This is false. I reported it as “peer-reviewed publications” but only included journal articles: no chapters or books. I now see that as a mistake.

“average home department rankings of 3.31 for men and 2.93 for women” This should be “ratings.”Report

A Persistent Woman
A Persistent Woman
4 years ago

In the article, Allen-Hermanson writes:

All the same, we can be somewhat reticent to draw strong conclusions about the extent of philosophy’s climate problems, and it might be premature to say that there is no systemic anti-female prejudice. Bias that was present but somehow neutralized by measures departments have taken or coping strategies adopted by women might have been overlooked. Then again it seems doubtful that explicit policy changes and coping strategies were adopted more than 10 years ago, long before there was wider awareness of the issue of unconscious bias.

As a woman who has been in the profession for more than 20 years, I can assure him that plenty of us were aware of unconscious bias against us long before the term “implicit bias” became commonplace. I have been aware of it since my first year of graduate school and the other women graduate students in my program were aware of it, too. And, actually, some of did develop coping strategies, and we have tried to share those strategies with other women as they entered the profession.

Here’s another possibility: there are climate problems for women in philosophy, and the women who have stuck it out are strong. We face challenges that men don’t face. Nevertheless, we persist.Report

Job Marketer
Job Marketer
Reply to  A Persistent Woman
4 years ago

Your comment implicitly addresses the normative question of whether there *should be* a hiring bias in favour of women, not the descriptive question that CDJ and SAH are concerned with, namely, of whether there *is* a hiring bias in favour of women. But I take it the normative question is the one people are generally most concerned with.

The normative question your comment raises is *should* we be hiring (partly) on the basis of strength? It appears not to correlate with research productivity and there’s no reason to think it correlates with the other qualities that should matter to hiring committees, such as collegiality or teaching competence. So I think the conjectured strength of female candidates is, if manifest, commendable but irrelevant to the aforementioned normative question. TT jobs aren’t rewards for obstacles overcome.Report

A Persistent Woman
A Persistent Woman
Reply to  Job Marketer
4 years ago

My comment said nothing about whether there is or should be a bias in favor of hiring women. My comment was only meant to address the paragraph that I quoted. In particular, it was meant to address the statement that “It seems doubtful that explicit policy changes and coping strategies were adopted more than 10 years ago, long before there was wider awareness of the issue of unconscious bias.”

My point was that while this may seem doubtful to the author, it does not seem doubtful to someone who has actually been a woman in the profession for more than 10 years (indeed, more than 20 years).

I don’t disagree with the author about whether the data he cites suggests that there is a bias in favor of hiring women.Report

Job Marketer
Job Marketer
Reply to  A Persistent Woman
4 years ago

Sure, female students have to be strong to get PhD and this fact may be more than 10 years old. But what follows? That’s the question I took your comment to *implicitly* address, not the comparatively banal and narrow one *explicitly* stated in your initial comment.Report

A Persistent Woman
A Persistent Woman
Reply to  Job Marketer
4 years ago

In the passage that I quoted, the author seemed to be offering reasons for thinking that there is no “anti-female bias” in philosophy. My comment was pointing out that his reasoning is flawed.Report

Pigeon
Pigeon
Reply to  A Persistent Woman
4 years ago

“One particularly puzzling aspect of academic and public dialogue about implicit prejudice research has been the dearth of attention paid to the finding that men usually do not exhibit implicit sexism, while women do show pro-female implicit attitudes…”

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2973929Report

Pigeon
Pigeon
Reply to  Pigeon
4 years ago

Allen-Hermanson has also written a devastating review of the recent two-volume collection IMPLICIT BIAS AND PHILOSOPHY:
https://philpapers.org/rec/ALLRIBReport

Second look
Second look
4 years ago

Honestly I think it’s misleading and somewhat irresponsible to note *only* the statistic that men getting hired have on average twice the publications of women. That brings to mind men with 6 publications getting left behind for women with 3. It also smacks of the claim that worse philosophers are getting hired over better philosophers. But in reality, we’re talking 1.37 versus .77 publications (which, for the record, isn’t actually twice as many). And in reality, were talking people who are applying ABD (I assume, since they’re looking only at folks who have had no previous academic positions). So most people when applying ABD are hovering around 1 publication. And it doesn’t seem hard to think of lots of plausible reasons that men might be one publication ahead of women. We have good reason to think that women get less mentoring, which presumably includes fewer people giving you feedback on your papers, giving you advice on where to submit them, and encouraging you to submit them in the first place. We also have lots of reason to think that women tend to wait longer to pull the trigger on plenty of things – going up for full professorship, for instance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened with sending papers off to journals. So even if women applying have on average a bit less than one publication, that doesn’t seem to be to evidence either that much more publishable men are being overlooked for much less publishable women, or that much *better* men are being left behind for much *worse* women.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Second look
4 years ago

We also have lots of reason to think that women tend to wait longer to pull the trigger on plenty of things – going up for full professorship, for instance.

= = =

Ironic that you say this, as the only person in our department who has gone up for early tenure *ever* is a woman.

Of course this is anecdotal, but interesting nonetheless.

Also, I just finished chairing a search, in which we had over 200 candidates. (Remarkable in itself, and one of the reasons why I think there should be a moratorium on the granting of new PhDs for a while). Of the ABD’s, all of them — or at least a large majority of them — had significantly more than one publication. Nonetheless, they had no chance against people who had been in the pipeline for several years (hence my previous parenthetical comment).

There seems to be a lot of “there’s good reason to think…” etc., in your comment, without actually providing any of those reasons. Undoubtedly, women are subjected to sexually harassing behavior in some departments, as a number of high profile cases have shown, but is the rate higher than that in society at large? And is there really evidence — beyond the sorts of statistical arguments that you yourself caution against in your comment — to suggest that this is the reason for women’s underrepresentation in the field?Report

Second look
Second look
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

The “good reason to think” was meant to refer to empirical data, which I’m not going to hunt down at the moment.

Also, my claims were just about why female ABDs might reasonably have on average one fewer publications than male ABDs without being worse philosophers. You then go on to ask about why women are under-represented in philosophy. I assume that wasn’t a response to my comment, since it’s not what I was talking about. But – again anecdotally, although I’d love to see better data on this – I know multiple women who have left philosophy because of levels of sexual harassment and sexual attention in philosophy, which have both been lower in the less-heavily-male-dominated professions they later went into. I also know women who have left philosophy precisely because they were tired of their male colleagues frequently and publicly suggesting that their work was likely lower quality because they were women, who have an obvious advantage in philosophy. Again, those suggestions weren’t made in the less-heavily-male-dominated professions they went into later.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Second look
4 years ago

I don’t know the relevant social science data myself, but it seems from several comments here, that it’s not at all obvious that it points in the direction of discrimination. That, of course, does not contradict any of the particular cases you mention. My own personal experience in this area has been twofold: (1) I have had more female bosses than male ones; (2) the women in all the places I’ve worked have been largely esteemed, discounting individual cases pertaining to individual personalities, of course. Now, I’ve been in the workforce since the mid 1980’s, and of course, you don’t need to go much earlier than that to reach a time when what I described was obviously not the norm.Report

Sure as heck posting anonymously
Sure as heck posting anonymously
Reply to  Second look
4 years ago

Second Look,

There is an important question that you are overlooking, it seems to me: supposing that sexual harassment and sexual attention are indeed higher in philosopher than in other, less-male-dominated fields, it is still an open question whether the explanation of this fact isn’t just that *philosophy has more males in it*. If the ratio of males-to-females does the explanatory work (and you’d have to depart from anecdote and go to data to determine this, data that spans across different fields with varying male/female ratios–though gathering quality data on about sexual harassment/attention would prove very difficult if not impossible due to the subject matter and the fact that you’d, presumably, depend entirely on personal surveys), then your claims would seem to get the order of explanation backwards. If the male/female ratio best explains the volume of sexual harassment/attention, then sexual harassment/attention doesn’t explain why philosophy is a male-dominated field.

I also think that, if you’re going to lean on empirical evidence for your claims, you should be willing to provide the evidence to your interlocutors.Report

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Second look
4 years ago

Is this supposed to be advice to people (other than the author of this study) about how to discuss this issue? Or, is this supposed to be commentary on the study? If the latter, I’m not seeing it at all. Maybe (though, I doubt it) it would be misleading or irresponsible to note *only* the statistic that male candidates getting hired have on average twice the publications of female candidates, but that isn’t what the author does. In context, there’s nothing remotely misleading or irresponsible here.

Even out of context, what the author says is literally true. The author said: “female candidates had about half as many publications as their male counterparts.” I’m not an expert as to the truth-conditions of “about”-statements, but I think it’s true to say that .77 is about half of 1.37. I don’t know if your “for the record” parenthetical is supposed to address something the author actually said, but I don’t think it does.

Your view seems to be that the author implies something false or unjustified. I don’t think that’s right either. You suggest two claims as being implicated by the author’s assertion that female candidates had about half as many publications as their male counterparts: (1) “men with 6 publications [are] getting left behind for women with 3”; and, (2) “worse philosophers are getting hired over better philosophers.”

As to (1), even out of context, I don’t think the author’s claim implies that. The claim that female candidates had about half as many publications as their male counterparts does not seem to me to convey anything about the average publication counts as between male candidates and female candidates except that the former is roughly twice that of the latter. I certainly wouldn’t assume, for instance, that male candidates had on average six publications and female candidates had on average three. But, even if there was a risk of such an implication, the author cancels it by immediately (in the next sentence) providing the 1.37 vs. .77 figures.

As to (2), the paper is discussing the question whether evidence supports the view that female candidates are disadvantaged in hiring as a result of a gender-related bias. The author does not purport to say anything at all about whether male philosophers are better at philosophy than female philosophers (or vice versa), or about how publication counts bear on that question. Rather, the author makes the plausible assumption that publications, and particularly publications in good journals, is a plus-factor in hiring. The author repeatedly notes that there may be lots of explanations (having nothing to do with goodness or badness of the philosophers) for why female candidates publish less, on average, than male candidates. You point to some of those possible explanations. Even if one or more of those is correct, though, it remains true that female philosophers seem to be doing very well on the job market despite having (on average) fewer publications.Report

Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

In case someone is interested, I recently published a detailed post on the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, which touches on some of the issues discussed by Allen-Hermanson. I argue that, despite what I call the “official narrative”, there is scant evidence that women face pervasive discrimination in philosophy and, on the contrary, there is a lot of evidence that they get some kind of preferential treatment. Perhaps more importantly, I argue that even if sexism really were pervasive in the field, it still wouldn’t explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy. That’s because what most people don’t realize is that a good explanation should not only explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy, but also why they are not in many other fields. I argue that, in view of these facts, the best explanation for the underrepresentation of women in philosophy is that, for whatever reason, they are less likely to be interested in philosophy than men. I show that, unlike the official narrative, not only does this hypothesis explain the data, but it’s independently supported by the evidence. I argue that, while there are often reasons to be concerned by the fact that women have different occupational preferences than men, this is probably not the case here. I conclude by arguing that, if philosophers really want to change the preferences of women toward philosophy, they probably can only do that by radically changing what counts as philosophy, which I think is not desirable. If they refuse to do that, the only way departments of philosophy could substantially increase the proportion of women in philosophy is by engaging in some kind of affirmative action (which they seem to be doing already), whose result would probably be the opposite of what they were trying to achieve.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

PL: “That’s because what most people don’t realize is that a good explanation should not only explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy, but also why they are not in many other fields.” I think we also need to ask why women are so much more common in some other academic disciplines than men. If some fields are attracting more women than men, then other fields will have fewer women.Report

Philippe Lemoine
Reply to  Hey Nonny Mouse
4 years ago

Yes, that’s a very good point, thanks for making it.Report

Current Grad Student
Current Grad Student
4 years ago

Couldn’t one explanation for this phenomena be hiring departments trying to correct for past hiring biases? And if so, how much of a problem is that, really?

I won’t give my answer to that question, rather I’d like to comment on a different part of the contents of this post which I found interesting. It was this quote:

“When it comes to the prestige of a candidate’s PhD-granting department, Allen-Hermanson notes that “program prestige correlated positively with the output of high-quality publications regardless of gender.””

Anecdotally, I get the sense that at “lower-prestige” departments there is often a sort of “don’t even bother” feeling about trying to get high-quality publications (ie paper(s) in the ‘top’ journals in the field and/or sub-field). However, in the cases where a grad student from such a department didn’t follow this “don’t even bother advice”, and ‘went for it’, so to speak, working *very* hard to get a good publication, not only did they succeed, but they did much, much better on the job market than those who didn’t. This tells me that high-quality publications being correlated positively with program prestige is less a function of the prestige itself, and more of graduate programmes and faculty at those institutions pushing graduate students to produce high-quality publications.Report

Brandon Beasley
Brandon Beasley
Reply to  Current Grad Student
4 years ago

Justin, you can ignore the fact this post got reported, I clicked the button by mistake.

And since I’ve accidentally outed myself anyway thanks to WordPress, might as well own this post.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Current Grad Student
4 years ago

CGS asks: “Couldn’t one explanation for this phenomena be hiring departments trying to correct for past hiring biases? And if so, how much of a problem is that, really?” Well, if it means that we are hiring candidates that are not as good, that much is a problem, and if we are being unust to males who did not benefit from previous hiring policies that were unjust to women, that much is a problem. I don’t see anyone suggesting that we correct any imbalance by forcing early retirement on senior males, the ones who benefitted most from previous policies. None of this means that we shouldn’t give preference to women, but let us keep the costs in mind.Report

Grad
Grad
Reply to  Hey Nonny Mouse
4 years ago

“Well, if it means that we are hiring candidates that are not as good, that much is a problem…”

Why would it mean that? This would only be likely if we had reason to think that women philosophers are on average worse philosophers than men, and not only do we have no reason to think that, but that assumption is part of the exact problem we are talking about here. Also, I think it is fair to say that no hiring department would hire a sub-par candidate regardless of other motivations. What is far more likely is that some are choosing to hire women when candidates are evenly matched.Report

Sure as heck posting anonymously
Sure as heck posting anonymously
Reply to  Grad
4 years ago

I think you might be misreading the data. One doesn’t need to assume that women philosophers are, on average, worse than their dude counterparts. In fact, the assumption that they are *equally* good, on average, suffices to support Nonny Mouse’s point.

Think about it this way. Imagine there’s two urns, one with 100 balls and the other with 100 blocks. The balls and blocks are painted either black or white. Let’s suppose that the color distribution of the balls and of the blocks are statistically equal (say, 50 black, 50 white). Now suppose that we found out that, when our test subject approaches the urns and draws 100 times (from either one of them), she draws from the ball urn 65 times and from the black turn 35 times (65 ~= 85% more than 35). On the assumption that the color distributions are the same, we should expect her, by the end, to have drawn more white balls than white blocks, and more black balls than black blocks.

Now suppose that white is a proxy for ‘lower-skill’ (but not sub-par), black for ‘higher-skill’, and that the balls are women philosophers and the blocks are men philosophers. On this person’s way of selecting, more white balls will have been selected than black blocks. But this means that there are black blocks being left in the urns in favor of white balls. And that means that we are hiring candidates who are not as good (as candidates we are passing over), even if they’re still not sub-par.Report

Sure as heck posting anonymously
Sure as heck posting anonymously
Reply to  Grad
4 years ago

Though it occurs to me now that you are assuming the candidates are ‘evenly matched’ (that is, to return to my analogy, all the balls and blocks in the urns are black). But I think this assumption is belied by the data that suggests that the men hired have, on average, about twice the publications (1.37 to .77), insofar as publications are a proxy for quality of work (and I hope to god they are–if they aren’t, we’ve got some deep problems!).Report

recent hire
recent hire
4 years ago

As a very recently hired woman in philosophy, I find this conversation troubling (not the initial post but the following comments).

I think there is no question of whether women are at slight disadvantage in grad school. As has been examined elsewhere, women tend to get different sort of recommendation letters, different sort of advice from their supervisor, as well as an increased possibility of things getting too personal with their supervisors. Women’s attrition rates are also much higher than men’s at almost every department I have encountered.

So maybe departments are finally starting to realize that one (perhaps not the only) way to help this issue is to have more women on the faculty who can interact with women grad students (and students in general) in a meaningful, professional way. No, I’m not saying that men are not likely to do that; but perhaps women would still feel a bit more welcome at certain departments events etc. if they weren’t the only women around.

Anecdote: we very recently organized a conference for early career women in a specific field. There were about 3 male and 15 female participants — about the inverse ratio of the usual one in our sub-field. I talked to the men afterwards about what they thought. They said the whole experience was *really weird* for them, to be in a minority — and that yes, it was very noticeable. Yes, we do get used to these things easily, but it does not mean that they become normal.Report

Another Gopher
Another Gopher
Reply to  recent hire
4 years ago

Someone should check the data on graduate school attrition rates. I did so a while ago and found no significant difference by gender.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  recent hire
4 years ago

Why do you find civil and careful discussion and disagreement “troubling”? No one has said anything nasty or disparaging. Surely, in philosophy, we can have critical discussions on these sorts of topics can’t we?Report

PhilGrad
PhilGrad
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

Daniel, that reply to “recent hire” is uncharitable and patronising (ironically, rather disparaging). Nothing “recent hire” said suggested that we simply ought not to have critical discussions on these sorts of topics or that discussion is in itself troubling (Indeed, otherwise they would presumably have also found the initial post troubling.) Your comment is uncharitable because there are a number of things they might have reasonably found troubling about the pattern of comments, or some of them. If you really want to engage in “civil and careful discussion”, it might be more productive to enquire about “recent hire”‘s response in a civil and honest way.

Also, I’ll just add: you can be reasonably “troubled” by a perfectly civil conversation for reasons other than anybody being outwardly “nasty and disparaging”. For example, you might be troubled if you think that the standards of the conversation are *epistemically* poor when that conversation concerns topics of moral importance that has real-life consequences of various kinds. Perhaps that is not why “recent hire” felt troubled. I’d have to ask them more to see if that was amongst their concerns. The point is that you can be reasonably “troubled” even by discussion that unfolds in a civil manner without being committed to the thought that one ought not discuss/debate certain topics.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  PhilGrad
4 years ago

Lol. There was nothing either patronizing or uncharitable about what I wrote. Seems to me like you’re doing a lot of reading-in and assuming. And it was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask, given how civil and calm this discussion has been so far and given how uncivil and un-calm such discussions often become.Report

recent hire
recent hire
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

Daniel, I didn’t say that people should not discuss these topics. (Thanks, PhilGrad). I found some of the comments troubling because it always surprises me how unaware some people are of some of these issues.

I do not have more than anecdotal data about grad school attrition rates, which would indeed be worth checking. I interacted with quite a few departments during my graduate career, and in all this interaction, there were usually a 3:1 ratio of women:men attrition. But this might be exceptional.

The main point I was trying to make is that it does add to the overall difficulty of grad school that there aren’t many women colleagues. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t hang out with guys all the time or who would be troubled by that. But e.g., when you go to a conference, and can’t share a room with someone because there are no other women, then you’re wasting a lot of money as well as become a bit socially isolated. When you hang out in the “boys’s clubs” sometimes and it is always a bit strange. When someone remarks after your paper at a conference how “cute” you are. When your advisor and most people complement you for your hard work and complement all your male colleagues for their smartness.

I don’t think these are salient reasons for leaving the profession. But they do make things a bit harder at times, and a more even ratio of women might help with some of them, and maybe that’s what some departments are trying to achieve.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  recent hire
4 years ago

I found some of the comments troubling because it always surprises me how unaware some people are of some of these issues.
= = =
Perhaps they are perfectly aware, but simply don’t agree with you regarding the etiology of said issues.

The question of why there are fewer women in the profession is an empirical one and will not be answered by anything but empirical methods. We can all trade anecdotes, as I indicated above in my exchange with second look.Report

More publications # more qualified for non-research jobs
More publications # more qualified for non-research jobs
4 years ago

These results need to be interpreted in light of how search committees carry out their AA duties. Job seeks sometimes assume that if candidate X has more publications than candidate Y, then X is more qualified than Y. But this is not how it works.

I can speak to searches at regional state colleges. We require candidates to show evidence that they can publish. We may allow, say, a maximum of 5 points in scoring our candidates in each required qualification. A recent PhD candidate will receive 5 points with 1 recent excellent publication. Having 3, 5, or 10 publications won’t change our judgement here.

We obviously also evaluate the candidates based on their teaching, potential to contribute to the department and university, ability to reach our diverse students, etc. There are a bunch of other categories and the AA requirements kick in somewhere other than research—we’re not going to hire anyone without publications and we’re not going to base the decision merely on total number published. We’re interested in all the extra the candidate can provide. For instance, we offer study abroad trips that must include one female faculty member, so it is a huge plus if a female candidate, who meets the minimum research requirements, also shows interest and skill in developing study abroad trips.

Moral of the story: research output is not a reliable indicator of the required qualifications for many TT jobs. (Nothing I say applies to pure research jobs, if there are any.)Report

Philippe Lemoine

Given that the mean number of publications is below 1 for women and slightly above 1 for men, and that if I remember correctly the mode is 0, what you are saying about how candidates are evaluated in your department actually supports the point you seem to be criticizing…Report

More publications # more qualified
More publications # more qualified
Reply to  Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

Only if all departments evaluated candidates in the same way we do. But, as I made explicit, my point is limited to regional state colleges. We would not hire someone without at least one publication. From what I can tell, the data in this article doesn’t speak against this claim even if it does show that at least some prestigious departments are hiring faculty without publications.Report

Philippe Lemoine

I was just pointing out that what you said about how your department evaluates applicants supports the assumption that, other things being equal, having more publications makes one more competitive in the market. (To be sure, if people use the procedure you described to evaluate applicants, then having more publications doesn’t matter past a certain number of them. But as I noted above, since most applicants don’t have that many applications, this is largely irrelevant.) To the extent that, despite having more publications, men are less likely to be hired, it’s evidence that women get some kind of preferential treatment in hiring. Since this is apparently the point that Allen-Hermanson was making, if you weren’t objecting to that, I’m not sure what you were saying.

It’s possible that research departments don’t care about publications, though it strikes me as completely implausible and, in any case, we don’t have any evidence that it’s the case, not even anecdotal evidence. Note that even if you’re right that, unlike regional state colleges, research departments don’t require at least one publication for someone to be considered (which seems to be true at many of them), it doesn’t follow that, other things being equal, having more publications make one more competitive even at such departments. So even if Allen-Hermanson’s paper doesn’t speak against the claim that some departments don’t require any publications to be hired, which I don’t think it does, I’m not sure why this is relevant.Report

Matt
Reply to  Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

“It’s possible that research departments don’t care about publications, though it strikes me as completely implausible and, in any case, we don’t have any evidence that it’s the case, not even anecdotal evidence.”

It’s only one data point, but during the time I was in or around the Penn philosophy department (in various roles, but mostly as a grad student or post doc in the law school), from 2001-2015, not a single person was hired who didn’t have at least one, and usually a few, publications in pretty good journals, and very few (perhaps none, though I’m less sure here) people were interviewed without such publications. Now, causation might go different ways here (people might have been interviewed/hired because they were excellent, and also had the publications because they were excellent, with the publications not being directly causal) but I am skeptical that the department “didn’t care about publications”, given this pattern.Report

#
#
Reply to  Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

Preferences can be expressed and weighed at different points in the hiring process. I was making the point that we would express our preference for hiring a female candidate when considering study abroad, advising, etc. This is a preference for a female candidate. But it is not like we are saying, ‘hey, here’s a male candidate with 2 publications and a female candidate with 1. Let’s only talk about that and give the job to the female candidate.’

The reason we may prefer the female candidate may be for very practical things. For instance, taking students to a student research conference is really difficult when the trip must include a female faculty chaperone and you are an all male department. Some students also prefer female advisors, specially if there are personal things they need to discuss. I consider it akin to how a counseling center may need to hire female or male counsellors for the subset of their clients that do best with one and not the other.

So, I agree that the paper shows that there is preferential hiring–that’s just obvious–, but I’m also observing that it doesn’t tell us why hiring committees have the preferences they have and whether those preferences are reasonable.Report

runtownexpress
runtownexpress
4 years ago

Reposting a comment I made at the philosophy meta-forum:

As part of a review process not long ago, my department collected and analyzed information on how our candidates had performed on the market. We were delighted to discover that our female candidates were more likely to get TT jobs than our male candidates were. Interestingly, our male candidates took longer to get jobs, typically doing a postdoc or VAP before getting a TT post. Our female candidates, by contrast, were more likely to secure TT offers while still ABD. Several years after finishing the degree, there were no significant gender effects. Despite having a difficult time in graduate school, women were finishing the program and seemed to suffer no disadvantage in seeking employment.

Based on a quick read of this article, it seems that similar patterns are true of the market as a whole, and that is good news indeed. In a profession that so often sports one bad “climate for women” headline after another, we’ve got a glimmer of hope here!Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  runtownexpress
4 years ago

“Despite having a difficult time in graduate school, women were finishing the program and seemed to suffer no disadvantage in seeking employment.”

What reason is there for thinking that women, in general, have a more difficult time in graduate school than men?Report

furelise
furelise
Reply to  Ben
4 years ago

If you have any serious doubts about this, I recommend that you talk to women who have done graduate work in philosophy. If no women will talk to you, try reading the WIILTBAWIP blog.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  furelise
4 years ago

Asking women about how they were treated in grad school is a good move. However, if you want to make a comparison, you need to ask both lots of women and lots of men how they were treated in grad school. That’s still far short of anything like a scientificc study, but it would be a start.Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  furelise
4 years ago

I’m not doubting that it’s hard to be a woman in philosophy. I am questioning whether it’s any easier to be a man. The major challenges faced by most men and women seem to be largely the same — depression, isolation, feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt, alcoholism, isolation, stress, etc.Report

Sure as heck posting anonymously
Sure as heck posting anonymously
Reply to  Ben
4 years ago

And there might be challenges specific to men that women do not face that net out the challenges women specifically face. That might be a surprising result, but it isn’t something we have non-question-begging grounds to dismiss out of hand.Report

Sure as heck posting anonymously
Sure as heck posting anonymously
Reply to  furelise
4 years ago

What people have reported on that blog doesn’t even approach statistical evidence, though. For one thing, it is probably subject to selection bias: women whose experiences have been great are less likely to post to it. For another thing, it provides absolutely zero data for the relevant comparison class: men. (And that’s not even touching the fact that the claims made on that blog cannot be verified.)

What it amounts to is a swapping of (only some people’s) stories. We can do that all day, and I could offer plenty of anecdotes in which a man’s contributions to some discussion were dismissed out of hand because he was a (frequently old) white dude (yes, in philosophy). But that doesn’t give us data.Report

PhilGrad
PhilGrad
Reply to  Ben
4 years ago

Here is a recent study on mental health in PhD students http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048733317300422

The researchers find that indicators of psychological distress and risk of psychiatric conditions (e.g. depression) is higher in PhD students compared to highly-educated members of the general population, highly educated employees outside of academia, and those enrolled in non-university-based higher education. They also found that “The odds of experiencing at least two psychological symptoms were 34% higher for female PhD students than for males (OR = 1.336); the odds of having at least four symptoms was 27% higher (OR = 1.273).”

This is only one study, of course, but the sample size is high.

This is *not* to minimize mental health issues suffered by men in academia, which is of course in itself a really important problem – we don’t want to see anybody suffering. And it’s also worth noting that measures of mental health are only one way of “having a hard time”. But I think it speaks to all of those on this thread dismissing the reports that women are making of their experiences.Report

Sure as heck posting anonymously
Sure as heck posting anonymously
Reply to  PhilGrad
4 years ago

I dismissed the WIILTBAWIP blog as evidence of discipline-wide, gender-specific difficulties, and maintained that that dismissal was valid even if we took every blog post to be true and accurate. That is a very different thing from dismissing the reports of specific instances of sexist behavior, which I have nowhere done, nor do I see other people doing it. Conflating the two certainly helps you virtue signal, but it is disingenuous wrt what I and others actually said.

Even setting the above issue aside, could you explain why you think this data speaks to “all of those on this thread dismissing the reports that women are making of their experiences”? what this data supports is that female PhD students experience a wider array of mental-health issues than do male PhD students. That is a very different proposition than the one actually being bandied about–that women face systematic climate problems (specifically, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual attention) that explain why there are fewer of them in philosophy than the general population. The data you’ve presented has no immediate connection to that issue.Report

Ben
Ben
4 years ago

My impression is that the discrepancy between men and women is especially great at the higher end, and I’d be interested in knowing whether that’s really the case. I know and have met many men with amazing CVs (many top publications, great recommendations, etc.) who’ve failed to secure a permanent position. However, if you’re a woman, that kind of CV seems to pretty much guarantee that you’ll get a good permanent position somewhere.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
4 years ago

My anecdotal evidence based on the people I know is that women have a clear advantage on the market. The more rigorous data seems to support this as well, as we all now know. If you’re a women with one decent paper, you’re almost guaranteed some job or another. Whereas if you’re a man, you could have a dozen papers and be unemployed. I do think that men need to be warned about the situation before doing PhDs in philosophy. There are very few jobs and even less of them go to purely merit based hires. My advice if you’re a man is not to try to play the merit game. It’s almost impossible to win these days. Network! Hope you find a friend who will give you a job. My more general advice to men is avoid philosophy!Report

Regional state school
Regional state school
Reply to  Postdoc
4 years ago

This assumes that the merit game is won and lost on number of publications. My advice to male job seekers would be to develop other skills that are actively sought, e.g., grad. students could develop peer counseling skills, work on study abroad, mentor minority student, show an ability to fund-raise, develop new programs and courses. The majority of TT jobs are not research ones. The majority of teaching is done by adjuncts at state schools. If you want a TT job with such an institution, you need to show that you can do everything else that is expected of permanent faculty. Go to some workshop on accreditation requirements and measuring student learning outcomes. Just do anything other than pump out more publications–it’s not what we need at many of the schools that are lucky enough to be allowed add a permanent faculty member to their overstretched department.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Regional state school
4 years ago

Actually, the job market is won with regard to the majority of jobs with respect to teaching experience, teaching breadth and teaching reviews/ratings. In every job search I’ve chaired or otherwise participated in, the people who were strong in those areas beat out those with more publications as well as those from Leiterrific schools. Publishing is actually wildly overrated, at least when we are talking about non-Leiterrific schools, which are the majority of places at which you are likely to get work.Report

Ben
Ben
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

I think it really depends on what kind of candidate you are. No teaching focused schools showed any interest in me at all, but several large research universities did. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t bothered wasting so much time applying to so many jobs at smaller schools, because it’s clear I’m not the kind of candidate they want.Report

Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

The author has also suggested — in my view with some strong arguments — that some philosophers have deliberately misrepresented the empirical evidence regarding bias for political purposes. If true, this seems a very dangerous development in our profession, especially when taken in conjunction with incidents like the recent Hypatia fiasco. I won’t deny worrying about the survival of our subject within the academy, if this sort of thing continues, especially in the current political climate.

http://www.mdpi.com/2409-9287/2/2/12/htmReport

Recent grad
Recent grad
4 years ago

One thing I never seem to see in these threads is tentative *relief* that discrimination against women (or whomever) might not have occurred (or at least not in the sense originally thought). There’s of course a cynical interpretation of this omission. But I don’t want to make it yet. I just think it’s odd that a natural response to the data is seemingly absent.Report

Job Marketer
Job Marketer
Reply to  Recent grad
4 years ago

The only relief worth having in this discussion is relief that *no one*, not just one’s favourite class of people, is being discriminated against. For example, when I hear about the wage gap, I don’t celebrate that men aren’t being discriminated against in their pay. Only with supplementary and controversial moral assumptions does the data support relief that no one is being discriminated against.Report

recent grad
recent grad
Reply to  Job Marketer
4 years ago

You’re right. I was assuming–rightly or wrongly–that the alleged benefits that women receive on the job market are counterbalanced by other, earlier sources of discrimination.Report

Job Marketer
Job Marketer
Reply to  recent grad
4 years ago

Right, I think many people assume as you do. Here’s why I don’t make that assumption.

The job market is a zero sum game. Marketers are competing for a finite and fixed set of resources. So we benefit female job marketers, as the data suggests is happening, just in case we disadvantage male job marketers.

Here’s why I don’t think the other, earlier sources of discrimination are extant, or, if they are extant, merit “counterbalancing” to this degree. Indeed, here’s why I don’t think that gender-based hiring pressures constitute counterbalancing.

(1) Most undergraduate students are now women. This suggests that secondary and primary schooling does not disadvantage women on the whole, though it may disadvantage them in local ways, just as it disadvantages men in local ways.

(2) *I believe* most graduate students are now women, though I can’t dig up the data supporting this claim. By parity of reasoning above, it is likely that female graduate students aren’t disadvantaged on the whole, though they may be disadvantaged in local ways, such as sexual harassment.

(3) Most faculty are now men, though this is changing. This is the product of now diminishing patriarchy in higher education.

Clearly neither (1) nor (2) supports explicit female advantage on the philosophy job market. Does (3)? I don’t think so. Why? Because the people we’re advantaging (younger women) are disjoint from the disadvantaged people (older women) and because the people we’re disadvantaging (young men) are disjoint from the advantaged people (older men).

If we really cared about justice, we’d cleave the salaries of older, male, philosophy professors in half to create a wave of new hires, defeating the zero sum game. Given that hiring would no longer be zero sum relative to the initial distribution, it would not be unjust to give a disproportionate amount of these newly created positions to younger women, since no younger men would be unfairly disadvantaged as a result.

However, because older men enjoy institutional protections, we instead go after the opportunities most vulnerable in the profession, graduate students, in the name of justice.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Job Marketer
4 years ago

If we really cared about justice, we’d cleave the salaries of older, male, philosophy professors in half to create a wave of new hires, defeating the zero sum game

= = =
So you think it’s “justice” to make it impossible for a 50 year old man to pay his mortgage? Or his kids’ college?Report

Job Marketer
Job Marketer
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

Eat the rich.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

I think that the point was that if our concern is justice, it would make more sense to have the price paid by senior males than by male grad students. I’m not reading that as a call to slash the pay of senior males, but to recognize the harm we are doing to male grad students. (Recognizing the harm is compatible with supporting AA, but if we do support AA, we should not presend, as we so often seem to, that we aren’t hurting any innocent people).Report

Greg Gauthier
4 years ago

This is the inevitable consequence of institutional, rather than entrepreneurial thinking. When there is only one fixed political pie, with slices ceremoniously handed out by committee to the politically “deserving”, the end result is going to be a continuous process of political struggle, rather than any real progress. This is why statistical outcomes have become so ultimately important. When you can’t point to any real progress, you point instead to territorial gains in your little war of all against all, and just label that “progress”.Report

an even less modest observer
an even less modest observer
4 years ago

The chickens have come home to roost, fellas.

All these natural men in the profession thought they had everything under control, the world seemed to be humming along just fine, everything was blue skies, and now you realize that you’ve been had, and it’s likely too late for anyone to do anything about.

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Everyone used to have a big chuckle about the idea that there was a concerted campaign to take-over, but now no one is laughing.Report