Area of Specialization, Gender, and Placement: a Close Look at the Data (guest post by Carolyn Dicey Jennings)


The following is a guest post* by Carolyn Dicey Jennings, assistant professor of philosophy and cognitive science at UC Merced and principal creator of Academic Placement Data and Analysis (APDA). A version of this post first appeared under the title “Permanent Placement and Area of Specialization for 2012-2016 Graduates” at the APDA site.


[from “Dear Data” by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec]

Area of Specialization, Gender, and Placement: a Close Look at the Data
by Carolyn Dicey Jennings

For graduates of philosophy PhD programs, area of specialization (AOS) can make a difference to placement outcome. Many positions are advertised only within a specific area of specialization, and the number advertised in each area varies year to year. What’s more, the number of graduates in each area varies year to year, such that it is possible to have a higher number of graduates in the same year that there is a lower number of jobs, and vice versa.

To explore the contribution of AOS to placement outcomes, I used the Academic Placement Data and Analysis (APDA) database to look at the number of philosophy PhD graduates between 2012 and 2016 with a permanent academic placement within three years of graduation for each AOS. Note that the findings listed below may apply only to this limited time sample.

There are currently 6628 graduates in the APDA database. 2861 have a graduation listed between 2012 and 2016. 2194 have a known AOS, and the rest have an unknown AOS. I looked only at those with known AOS.

761 of the graduates in the database with a graduation year between 2012 and 2016 have a listed permanent placement within 3 years of their graduation year, for an overall placement rate of 34.7% (761/2194).

36 areas of specialization had graduates listed for 2012 to 2016.

20 of these areas had a permanent placement rate below the overall value. I will call these the “low placement group.” The low placement group is listed below in order of placement rate (with the number of those with permanent placement in less than three years divided by the total number of graduates 2012 to 2016 in parentheses).

Low Placement Group:
Philosophy of Math (2/16) 12.5%
Decision Theory (1/8) 12.5%
Value Theory (2/12) 16.7%
German Philosophy (2/10) 20.0%
Metaphilosophy (1/5) 20.0%
19th/20th Century Philosophy (9/44) 20.5%
Aesthetics (9/36) 25.0%
Philosophy of Technology (1/4) 25.0%
Modern Philosophy (52/197) 26.4%
Philosophy of Religion (18/65) 27.7%
Meta-Ethics (9/30) 30.0%
Philosophy of Action (8/26) 30.8%
Philosophy of Law (9/29) 31.0%
Philosophy of Mind (39/120) 32.5%
Metaphysics (39/120) 32.5%
Epistemology (56/170) 32.9%
Philosophy of Economics (1/3) 33.3%
History of Philosophy (3/9) 33.3%
Logic and Philosophy of Logic (15/44)34.1%
Philosophy of Science (39/113) 34.5%

16 had a permanent placement rate above the overall value. I will call these the “high placement group.” The high placement group is listed below in order of placement rate (with the number of those with permanent placement in less than three years divided by the total number of graduates 2012 to 2016 in parentheses).

High Placement Group:
Continental Philosophy (44/122) 36.1%
Philosophy of Language (33/91) 36.3%
Social and Political Philosophy (70/193) 36.3%
Applied Ethics (20/55) 36.4%
Ethics and Moral Philosophy (115/309) 37.2%
Comparative Philosophy (3/8) 37.5%
Philosophy of Biology (11/29) 37.9%
Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Linguistics (25/64) 39.1%
Philosophy of Education (10/24) 41.7%
Philosophy of Gender, Race, Sexuality, Disability (13/31) 41.9%
Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (17/40) 42.5%
Analytic Philosophy (4/9) 44.4%
Ancient Philosophy (49/103) 47.6%
Asian Philosophy (9/18) 50.0%
Philosophy of Physics (15/26) 57.7%
American Philosophy (8/11) 72.7%

Note that these numbers do not differentiate the graduates of different years and that graduates in later years will have had less time to find permanent placement. Thus, areas of specialization with earlier graduates will have an advantage over areas of specialization with later graduates.

To see if this made a difference to the above groups, I made an index for each AOS based on its average year of graduation divided by the overall average year of graduation subtracted by 2012 (e.g. average graduation year is 1.375 years after 2012 for Philosophy of Math divided by 1.767 for all AOS, yielding an index of 0.778). I then multiplied this index by the placement rate to create a new listing of those areas of specialization with above and below the overall placement rate, correcting for average graduation year. In this case, the areas of specialization in the high placement group were just about the same, in order (lowest to highest): Ethics, Applied Ethics, Continental, Asian, Biology, Medieval/Renaissance, Education, Cognitive Science/ Psychology/ Neuroscience/ Linguistics, Comparative, Ancient, Gender/ Race/ Sexuality/ Disability, Physics, American. (While most areas of specialization changed position in this group, three areas left the group on this basis, meaning that their presence in the group was enabled by having earlier graduates than average: Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, and Social/Political Philosophy.)

I also looked at interactions with gender.

Overall, 263 of 761 women were placed in permanent positions in less than three years (41.3%), compared to 498 of 1557 men (32.0%). Of the non-indexed groups, some areas of specialization in the low placement group had an above overall placement rate for a specific gender, and vice versa.

Specifically, whereas 41.3% is the overall placement rate for women in this period, the following list of areas of specialization from the low placement group had a placement rate higher than 41.3% for women graduates (order here and in the lists below follows that of the low placement and high placement groups, provided above–i.e. low to high overall placement rate):

Meta-Ethics (5/12) 41.7%
Philosophy of Law (2/3) 66.7%
Philosophy of Mind (17/38) 44.7%
Metaphysics (11/26) 42.3%
Epistemology (18/41) 43.9%

The following list of areas of specialization from the high placement group had a placement rate lower than 41.3% for women graduates:

Philosophy of Language (11/29) 37.9%
Social and Political Philosophy (23/63) 36.5%
Applied Ethics (6/25) 24.0%
Ethics (35/86) 40.7%
Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Linguistics (7/20) 35.0%
Philosophy of Education (3/8) 37.5%
Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (0/7) 0.0%
Analytic Philosophy (0/1) 0.0%

Similarly, whereas 32.0% is the overall placement rate for men in this period, the following list of areas of specialization from the low placement group had a placement rate higher than 32.0% for men graduates:

Metaphilosophy (1/3) 33.3%
Philosophy of Economics (1/3) 33.3%
History of Philosophy (2/5) 40.0%
Logic and Philosophy of Logic (13/38) 34.2%

And the following list of areas of specialization from the high placement group had a placement rate lower than 32.0% for men graduates:

Continental Philosophy (25/84) 29.8%
Comparative Philosophy (1/5) 20.0%
Philosophy of Biology (6/19) 31.6%
Philosophy of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Disability (1/6) 16.7%

Overall, both area of specialization and gender appear to make a difference to placement rate.

In the low placement group, the overall placement rate was 29.7%, with a placement rate of 38.8% for women in this group and 26.5% for men in this group.

In the high placement group, the overall placement rate was 39.4%, with a placement rate of 43.1% for women in this group and 37.6% for men in this group.

Finally, I looked at the placement rate for each gender in the low and high placement groups for the other gender.

For women in the low placement group for men (areas of specialization with a placement rate for men of below 32.0%), the placement rate was 41.8%, whereas the placement rate for women in the high placement group for men is 40.7%. For men in the low placement group for women (areas of specialization with a placement rate for women of below 41.3%), the placement rate was 32.9%, whereas the placement rate for men in the high placement group for women is 30.7%. This suggests an interaction effect between gender and AOS for placement rate.

In sum, placement rate varies with area of specialization. Placement rate also varies with gender. Placement rate also appears to vary based on the interaction between gender and area of specialization.


Some related discussions online (in order of recency):
http://dailynous.com/2017/06/12/philosophy-jobs-per-aos-2016-17/
http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2017/06/where-the-jobs-werent-in-2016-by-aos.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2016/10/tenure-track-philosophy-jobs-vs-philosophy-phd-graduates.html
http://dailynous.com/2016/09/08/philosophy-placement-data-an-update-on-apda/
http://www.newappsblog.com/2016/09/apda-update.html
http://dailynous.com/2016/05/03/gender-the-philosophy-job-market/
http://blog.apaonline.org/2016/05/03/academic-placement-data-and-analysis-an-update-with-a-focus-on-gender/
http://dailynous.com/2016/04/15/philosophy-placement-data-and-analysis-an-update/
http://www.newappsblog.com/2016/04/2015-apda-report-update-with-program-specific-data-and-graphs.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2016/04/visualizing-apda-data.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2015/10/tracking-the-job-market-a-start.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2015/09/apda-final-report.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2014/07/why-recency-and-time-frame-matters.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2014/06/job-placement-2011-2014-overview-on-aos.html
http://www.newappsblog.com/2014/06/job-placements-2011-2014-first-report.html

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Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

I am really hoping that this and the previously reported study will help us to get beyond what has become, in my view, a rather toxic conversation on the question of the gender breakdown in philosophy, as well as other disciplines. The “crickets chirping” reaction I am seeing in the usual quarters, among the usual suspects, however, makes me worry that nothing will change whatsoever, and the conversation will continue as if this important empirical work was never done at all.Report

Another Gopher
Another Gopher
4 years ago

The sample sizes of many of these comparisons (0/3, 1/5, et cetera) are so small that one should be wary of making any inferences about what they show re: interactions between placement, gender, and AOS. One needs higher sample sizes for the percentages to have any statistical value.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Another Gopher
4 years ago

As the author notes:

“Note that the findings listed below may apply only to this limited time sample.”

What I expressed was — and remains — a hope.Report

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Reply to  Another Gopher
4 years ago

Right. No statistical tests were run on the above. It is descriptive only. I am still trying to think of the best test for my hypothesis that AOS accounts for a large chunk of the gender effect (https://blog.apaonline.org/2016/05/03/academic-placement-data-and-analysis-an-update-with-a-focus-on-gender/). The test I ran recently, not reported above (I would want to redo it with others coding the data), took all of the TT jobs from PhilJobs for this time period and coded them as Open, Multiple, or a specific AOS, then compared the number of jobs to the number of graduates in the database in that time period with that AOS. I then sorted this list by those with a higher job to graduate ratio, splitting in half for a top half AOS and a bottom half AOS. A Chi-Square Test with men, women, top half AOS, bottom half AOS came up as highly significant. That is, women are more likely to specialize in the areas that universities happen to want (as hypothesized). To get a sense of this: top ten AOS using this method are Philosophy of the Americas; Philosophy of Science; Analytic Philosophy; Philosophy of Biology (incl. Environmental Philosophy, a highly sought after area); Philosophy of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Disability; Asian Philosophy; German Philosophy; History of Philosophy; Applied Ethics; Philosophy of Economics. Proportion of women in these fields with graduation dates after 2011: 40% (compared to 29% across all AOS for these dates). I would like to do this with naive coders, splitting up the jobs with multiple AOS in the same way as Marcus Arvan (http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2017/06/where-the-jobs-werent-in-2016-by-aos.html), with careful thought as to the statistical method. Chi-square is ok, but we can do better (I would need to work with Patrice Cobb, our stats advisor, on that). But once we are pretty confident that the data are good and our methods are good, you can expect a peer-reviewed publication on this. I don’t think, given the above, that AOS will account for the full effect. Of course, this does not mean that women have an advantage on the job market, qua women, as I have argued elsewhere. There may be other qualities of the women candidates that universities find independently valuable. I plan to continue to examine this space. Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Carolyn Dicey Jennings
4 years ago

I’m glad you said this last bit. Otherwise, this sort of thing will get misused by the *other* group of usual suspects in the *other* set of usual corners.Report

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
4 years ago

Right. Thanks. You and others might be interested in a mini study I did on Phil Mind/CogSci/Linguistics/Neuro/Psych: http://prezi.com/g-vg8rwlixyo/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share. I selected 100 people in these areas from the database at random and looked at their cv’s and ratemyprofessor scores. I found that the women had higher teaching ratings, and more average publications at graduation, at first placement, and per year (but same median at graduation and first placement, and less median per year). One difference in this and the previous study I did on publication is that this time I counted chapters and books, among other things (I mistakenly left these out the first time I looked at publications, and counted only journal articles). That the teaching ratings were higher is striking because these have been found to be lower for women on average. In any case, it might be worthwhile to do this sort of study across the database as a whole, but I don’t have plans to do that anytime soon. Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
Reply to  Carolyn Dicey Jennings
4 years ago

Hi Carolyn,
I noticed that you identify Philosophy of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Disability as an AOS. But, as far as I can see, the PhilJobs (and PhilPapers) system limits this subcategory of Value Theory to Philosophy of Gender, Race, and Sexuality. I think PhilJobs (and PhilPapers) should use the category that you identify; but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Would you mind explaining why you have used it in your discussions? Report

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Reply to  Shelley Tremain
4 years ago

Hi Shelley,
The AOS terms used in the APDA database were created organically with Justin Vlasits as a non-overlapping list to capture what people actually say about themselves. I don’t remember the precise reasoning in this case, but we wanted to fit both field expectations (using the PhilPapers taxonomy and our own knowledge) and individual description with an eye to efficiency–i.e. grouping where possible.Report

Caleb
Caleb
4 years ago

Am I right in thinking that this analysis only uses the first-reported area of specialization? I ask because candidates’ other specializations might have affected their hiring. The number and nature of these specializations might differ considerably for different primary specialization. This could be particularly relevant if an AOS has a small sample size, so that a couple of candidates getting hired partly because of strong secondary specializations could bring up the placement rate for their primary AOS.Report

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Reply to  Caleb
4 years ago

That’s right. And that seems plausible. It might make sense to take a random sample from the database to test this and the other ideas. It is possible, for instance, that having a broader or narrower range of specializations helps one on the job market and gender corresponds with this difference. It could also be that gender influences secondary AOS more than primary. We would have to look.Report