Recruitment and Hiring Strategies to Make Philosophy More Diverse


The Demographics in Philosophy Project has issued a set of diversity-enhancing recommendations for philosophy department recruitment and hiring practices.

[Namsa Leuba, “TranseA Weke Benin”]

Philosophers involved with the project—Sherri Conklin (Colorado), Nicole Hassoun (Binghamton/Cornell), Gregory Peterson (South Dakota State), Michael Rea (Notre Dame), and Eric Schwitzgebel—recently wrote about the recommendations at the Blog of the APA.

The authors note that “diversity and excellence are not divergent aims… diversity is a component of excellence,” and also add that “managing underrepresentation in philosophy will help with philosophy’s relevance at a time when the value of the humanities is contested.”

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Reconsider what constitutes a “well-rounded” department. What topics, approaches, and interests have been neglected but deserve representation?
    • If your department is unfamiliar with a desired research area, reach out to experts in other philosophy departments, or in other disciplines, for feedback on assessing candidates.
  • Re-evaluate your department’s perception of prestige.
    • Refine the notion of prestige by getting a clearer understanding what counts as the top journals or conferences in the subfield relating to the applicant’s specialty.
    • Instead of focusing on prestige, focus instead on the quality of the applicant’s work, how interesting or relevant it is to their sub-specialty, and how relevant it is to the job description requirements.
    • Consider removing markers of prestige when making hiring and tenuring decisions. 
  • Agree in advance about what the department is looking for when hiring new faculty.
    • Evaluate whether your conception of “core philosophy” and/or the mission of your philosophy program needs updating and discuss what you are looking for in a “good candidate”. 
    • These definitions should include expectations about, for example, the number and quality of publications to prevent holding different applicants to different standards.
    • Before considering applications, identify how items in the job description will be weighted for each applicant.
    • Develop clear guidelines for the evaluation criteria and adhere to them.
    • Take special care to ensure that any non-anonymous parts of the review process do not omit, or unfairly disadvantage, applicants from underrepresented groups.
    • Attend to your regional context as well as the overall global context (e.g. the importance of including adequate geographical and indigenous representation in your department).
    • Re-evaluate applications with high diversity ratings to determine whether bias played a role in excluding the applicants from getting an interview or in the interview process.
  • Consider giving diversity-related contributions more weight when evaluating applicants.
    • Keep in mind that being a member of an underrepresented group in philosophy can require additional labor, burdens, stressors, and expectations, which is often not recognized.
    • Keep in mind that philosophers from underrepresented groups are often expected to take on a disproportionate amount of service work in addition to their research.
  • Learn about the issues that underrepresented colleagues typically face so that you can advocate more effectively with difficult colleagues for faculty retention and promotion.

For the full list of suggestions see the original post.

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Jeff
15 days ago

When search committees ask for evidence of teaching effectiveness, everyone involved in the process needs to be mindful of the way bias works in student evaluations. Search committees surely need to take this into consideration, but letter writers can also address why diverse candidates may have student evaluations that unfairly represent the candidate’s effectiveness and potential for future effectiveness as a teacher.

As well, it can be difficult to quantify the type of mentoring that candidates from diverse backgrounds do (this on top of the service they often also do), so letter writers can speak to mentoring/advising and help the candidate discuss this in their file. As someone who has experience on search committees at small liberal arts colleges, promise as a teacher and advisor are the top priorities, and though we as a committee are mindful of bias in course evaluations, I think the field can do more promote alternative measures of teaching effectiveness while helping candidates describe and discuss their teaching effectiveness so that their potential shines through what may otherwise appear to be mediocre course evals.

These alternative measures of teaching effectiveness and talking about teaching will also be helpful when it comes time for tenure and promotion, and it will–I believe–ultimately improve philosophy teaching while mitigating against the types of self-doubt that can arise when student evals are openly or implicitly biased.Report

Nicole Hassoun
15 days ago
Fritz Warfield
15 days ago

I’m almost afraid to ask: what does it mean to (as recommended in the article) “use each…. tenure case as an opportunity to increase faculty diversity?”Report

Andre Van Doren
Reply to  Fritz Warfield
14 days ago

It simply means that, in addition to the affirmative action quotas, now they seek to amplify the race and gender factor in the tenure process. It is a natural and logical result of the ongoing ideological advance of the identitarian left and the diversity industry that became our mainstream and exercise its hegemony over our education, legacy media, and the greater part of government that and corporate establishment. In practical terms, it will lead to further decline of the merit system.Report

David Wallace
15 days ago

Most of this looks both useful and sensible, but there are a few parts which look legally questionable to me under US law (or, perhaps, more charitably: look as if they could easily be read in a way which was legally questionable, and so probably ought to be clarified).

Specifically:

1) The authors write that “diversity and excellence are not divergent aims… diversity is a component of excellence” and, elsewhere, that “[t]he perception that diversity and quality are competing considerations can be especially toxic… Better is a view on which “quality” is not always defined by contributions to what is currently mainstream and on which part of what constitutes group-level quality in a department is diversity”.
But ‘diversity’ isn’t something that any individual candidate has: it’s a holistic characteristic of a group (hence the reference to ‘group-level quality’). In a selection decision, to say “A’s individual-level excellence is higher than B, but we should hire B because of their greater contribution to group-level quality”, is to say that B has some quality A lacks that doesn’t contribute to their individual-level excellence, and that that’s why they should be hired. If that quality is an AOS that the department needs, that’s perfectly defensible. If it’s a protected characteristic like sex or race, it looks legally problematic.

2) The authors advise: “Consider giving diversity-related contributions more weight when evaluating applicants.”
It’s not 100% clear what ‘diversity-related contributions’ means here, but the immediately following bullet points are:
“- Keep in mind that being a member of an underrepresented group in philosophy can require additional labor, burdens, stressors, and expectations, which is often not recognized.
– Keep in mind that philosophers from underrepresented groups are often expected to take on a disproportionate amount of service work in addition to their research.”
At least one natural reading is that one should weight applications from underrepresented groups more generously on certain axes because one can reasonably assume that they will have had unrecognized extra expectations and service work, even in the absence of evidence that this occurred in the particular case. I *suspect* that’s illegal: you’re assessing a member of a protected group on the basis of features that are widespread among members of the group, rather than making an individualized assessment of whether they hold in this particular case. (Of course, just being aware that this is *likely* to be an issue, and paying attention to individualized application data that might help you judge whether it *is* an issue, is fine, and good advice.)

3) The authors advise: “Create post-docs aimed at recruiting philosophers from underrepresented groups or philosophers who work in underrepresented areas of philosophy, for the purpose of supporting their academic development and eventually competing to hire them.” There would be no problem in creating a postdoc aimed at an underrepresented area. But I think the idea of creating a postdoc specifically aimed at recruiting from an underrepresented group would have to be done very delicately to avoid legal trouble: it would be hard to avoid the presumption that an applicant *not* from the underrepresented group would be disadvantaged in the selection process.

4) As Fritz Warfield notes above, the authors propose that departments “[u]se each new hire and new tenure case as an opportunity to increase diversity in your department.” Specifically for tenure, that looks very awkward. It suggests strongly that decisions as to tenure should be influenced by whether granting the person tenure would contribute to overall diversity. If that contribution is on a protected-category axis (e.g. race or sex) then I think that would be fairly straightforwardly illegal. (I think it would be quite a clear breach of the normal understanding of tenure even in cases of intellectual diversity.)Report

Animal Symbolicum
Reply to  David Wallace
14 days ago

The SEP article on affirmative action is good on your point 2.

The Basic Idea animating several arguments for affirmative action (and for strategies such as those suggested here) is this: it’s permissible to burden a white male (by denying him the job) in order to offset the advantages that white males on average tend to enjoy simply in virtue of being white and male. (Looked at the other way: it’s permissible to burden a white male (by denying him the job) in order to offset the disadvantages that non-white-males on average tend to suffer simply in virtue of being not white or not male.)

The sticking point is that preferential selection, sotto voce or not, is motivated by (what’s taken to be) knowledge of statistical averages, but it always only affects individual persons, each with a unique history, character, personality, and suite of competencies. One’s experience, education, and academic output, one’s promise as a teacher, scholar, and colleague, one’s professional persona — none of these is necessarily the result of advantages stemming from the bare fact that one is, for example, white or male. (And none has necessarily been hampered as the result of disadvantages stemming from the bare fact that one is not white or not male.)

And it would probably take a thorough empirical investigation of one’s past to even approach having sufficient evidence to determine whether one’s whiteness or maleness advantaged one.

That such thoroughness would be required is probably enough to refute any argument in favor of embarking upon such an investigation simply for the purpose of making a hiring decision (not to mention questions of the legality of such an undertaking). So it seems necessary and yet pointless (and perhaps illicit) to investigate each individual’s past in this way as a means to compensate for the statistical bluntness of the Basic Idea. This suggests that we either live with the bluntness of the Basic Idea or abandon the Basic Idea. And it’s not obvious which would be better.Report

Prof L
15 days ago

What would be helpful would be a general guide which also cautioned people in how to avoid the legal and ethical pitfalls mentioned above. This is good advice, *taken in a certain way*. But I’m sure I’m not the only person who has seen abuses of this kind of thing—ruling out at the outset all candidates who are not “diverse”, disregarding even subdiscipline-specific standards of excellence, interpreting “contributions to diversity” in terms of ideological conformity (i.e., commitment to a very specific set of beliefs about ‘whiteness’), and so on.Report

Grad
14 days ago

As a graduate student who will soon be on the job market and happens to be of majority demographic, this is terrifying. According to the most recent data I am aware of, minority candidates are already disproportionately hired. It is chilling to think that people actively work to further reduce the chances for me getting hired, based on immutable characteristics.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Grad
14 days ago

I though it was sufficiently obvious, but perhaps it’s worth reiterating that initiatives of this sort are meant to level the playing field so that those in the majority no longer benefit from a system which has long disadvantaged those in the minority. When these initiatives work, those in the majority who happen to be mediocre philosophers will not be offered jobs that their more qualified competitors in the minority should be offered. If you are one of the very, very few genuinely exceptional, your chances of getting a job are still relatively high, I’d bet.Report

Lowlygrad
Lowlygrad
Reply to  Jen
14 days ago

Cursed comment.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Lowlygrad
14 days ago

Just candor.Report

Grad
Reply to  Jen
14 days ago

The problem is that you are likely wrong when you suggest that the playing field isn’t already level. Current data suggest a significant bias in favor of minority demographic candidates and against majority demographic candidates. The result is that, in your words, many “mediocre” minority candidates are chosen for jobs over their more qualified majority demographic colleagues.
A relevant recent data point from Sweden (not including philosophy directly, but philosophy adjacent disciplines such as linguistics and economics): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03075079.2020.1723533Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Grad
14 days ago

I briefly read the article you cite. It does not do much to show that there is an equal playing field, nor to show that mediocre women academics are hired for positions more qualified men deserve.
It purports to undermine the claim that (roughly) females are held to a higher academic standard than males. It presumes that by doing so, it undermines the explanatory merits of bias against females for explaining the low proportion of females in academic positions. To undermine higher-standards claim, their study compares publication metrics between males and females when being appointed to the highest academic rank in Swedish academic system. The data show, the article reports, that females do not have greater publication metrics than males (in terms of publication numbers and citation numbers).
The article’s main problem is that it fails to address the possibility that the publication system is itself impacted by bias against females. If it is so impacted, such a bias can explain the publication metrics and thus publication metrics don’t do the work the researchers believe they do.
The article comes close to an attempt to address this problem. It acknowledges the possibility that bias explains females’ lower citation rates. Its only defense is that “there seems to be no study that can substantiate this claim.”
There are other serious problems. But I’m not interested in reviewing them all. In the end, the article’s findings are not impressive. They do hardly anything to show “my suggestion” of an unequal playing field to be false. Nor do they show inequality that favors women.Report

Grad
Reply to  Jen
14 days ago

The effect sizes are massive, as summarized in Figures 1 and 2. For your explanation to account for those, one would need to believe in a massive conspiracy against citing female authors. More importantly, your explanation only addresses differences in citations. It doesn’t explain the large differences in *numbers of publications*. Presumably most journals in the surveyed fields are double-blind.
Then compare your explanation to this. A progressive country like Sweden implements massive affirmative action. A significant number of less qualified minority demographic candidates get jobs over more qualified majority demographic candidates. The result is that on avergae a majority demographic academic does better work than a minority demographic academic, though obviously with large individual differences. Which explanation likely accounts for more of the difference?Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Grad
14 days ago

Nonsense. You lack imagination.Report

A Philosopher
A Philosopher
Reply to  Jen
14 days ago

Peer review and gender bias: A study on 145 scholarly journals

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/2/eabd0299

“We reconstructed three possible sources of bias, i.e., the editorial selection of referees, referee recommendations, and editorial decisions, and examined all their possible relationships. Results showed that manuscripts written by women as solo authors or coauthored by women were treated even more favorably by referees and editors. Although there were some differences between fields of research, our findings suggest that peer review and editorial processes do not penalize manuscripts by women.”Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  A Philosopher
14 days ago

You should actually read carefully the article you cite, instead of reading just the abstract. When you do, you’ll read that its findings do not show that the publication system is not impacted by bias against females. Just one excerpt:
“In any case, our findings do not mean that peer review and journals are free from biases. For instance, the reputation of certain authors and the institutional prestige of their academic affiliation, not to mention authors’ ethnicity or the type of research submitted, could influence the process, and these factors could also have gender implications .”

It is also telling that the article’s authors acknowledge that women’s manuscripts being slightly more favorably treated might simply reflect their higher quality:
“[It] could simply reflect some intrinsic characteristics of the manuscripts. Previous research suggests that women could be inclined to invest more in their manuscripts to prevent expected editorial bias (10, 33), which could also explain why they submit fewer manuscripts (18, 23, 24, 28). In this respect, the fact that manuscripts by cross-gender teams of authors received systematically more positive treatments in our sample could even reveal an exploitation opportunity by men, who benefit from collaborating with women colleagues.”Report

David Wallace
Reply to  Jen
13 days ago

It’s perfectly reasonable to point out ways in which any given statistical result doesn’t *prove* a hypothesis. That’s how science proceeds.

That said: some of this conversation does leave me wondering what would count as (even defeasible) evidence that the recruitment/tenure process is not slanted towards men. Presumably it’s not an a priori truth that it is.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  David Wallace
13 days ago

I’d bet you have a sufficiently strong grasp of what would count as defeasible evidence of the relevant sort. So I guess you’re probing to understand what I take to be such evidence. You and I likely agree about this matter, however. The simplest of examples will suffice: that a woman was appointed over a man is defeasible evidence of a recruitment/tenure process not slanted towards men, for (roughly) it tends to increase the likelihood that the process is not slanted towards men. Do we agree? If so, we will likely also agree that the two papers discussed above report defeasible evidence of such a process.

The issue is not about whether the articles report evidence. The issue concerns the use to which that evidence was being put in this conversation. Grad claimed that I am “likely wrong when [I] suggest that the playing field isn’t already level,” and directed us to support for this claim, which was the article on the Swedish system. But the evidence it reports does not make the “my suggestion” *likely* false, and I explained why. It of course tends to increase the likelihood that the suggestion is false, but that was not Grad’s claim. Grad’s claim was much stronger.
A Philosopher apparently believes that the publication system is not impacted by bias against women, and that the evidence reported by the article on bias and peer review provides sufficient justification for that belief. But the evidence does not provide such justification, and I explained why. It of course tends to increase the likelihood that bias doesn’t impact the system, but A Philosopher apparently believes something stronger given the context.Report

Grad
Reply to  Jen
12 days ago

Note that I introduced the study with the words “a relevant datapoint” and not “this single study alone provides conclusive proof”. That would be silly. Another relevant data point was posted by A Philosopher, and it is not the study you keep on repeating: https://dailynous.com/2016/05/03/gender-the-philosophy-job-market/Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Grad
12 days ago

No one has suggested that you believed yourself to offer conclusive evidence. It is, however, very strange that you are “terrified” and “chilled” by efforts that might hinder your ability to land a job unless you have significant evidence to support the belief that these efforts will seriously impact your ability. So when you go on to cite a single article in support of the belief, as if you have nothing else to cite, and the evidence the article reports very, very weakly supports your belief, it suggests you are giving too much weight to the evidence.

The study you’ve now cited is much more relevant to the discussion (and to your terror), but it provides very weak evidence for what you called “a significant bias in favor of minority candidates.” And so it provides very weak evidence for your suggestion that the playing field is not slanted towards those in the majority.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Jen
12 days ago

Report

Last edited 12 days ago by Jen
Jen
Jen
Reply to  Jen
12 days ago

Report

Last edited 12 days ago by Jen
David Wallace
Reply to  Jen
12 days ago

Let me rephrase: what would constitute *moderately good* (as opposed to ‘very, very weak’) evidence that the hiring/tenure process is not slanted towards men?

(My own reading, fwiw, is that the various papers cited in this discussion do constitute moderately good evidence for this – but fall far short of decisive / conclusive evidence, both because of the possible confounding reasons Jen raises and out of a general caution about relying on individual studies.)Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  David Wallace
12 days ago

The answer is not simple, and we shouldn’t expect it to be. For this reason, and because I know you are neither overly confident nor imagination-lacking, I’ll be even more careful than usual.

In the case at hand, we’re interested in the strength of evidence that the recruitment/tenure process is not slanted toward men. Does the recruitment process begin with grad admissions? Or does it begin earlier? At the undergrad level? And are we interested in the Swedish process? The European process? The process for all of the English-speaking world? The answers make a difference to the number and character of potential confounding factors, which can influence the strength of the relevant evidence.
Additionally, ‘slanted towards men’ is used metaphorically. Are we interested in whether the process unjustly advantages men? In whether men enjoy statistically greater success in the process? In whether it is easier for men to succeed (even if they fail to enjoy statistically greater success) in the process? Again, the answer makes a difference to factors that can influence the strength of the evidence.

I’ve been assuming we’re interested in whether the philosophy profession’s tenure/recruitment process(es) for the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia that begins at the undergrad level unfairly advantages white men. Hopefully this goes some way toward explaining why the various studies discussed here leave me unimpressed.
Briefly, in my view, the paper on the Swedish system would provide moderately strong evidence that the *Swedish* process is not slanted towards men if its findings didn’t rest so substantially on something it nearly completely fails to address (i.e. whether the publication system is impacted by bias). And the paper on peer review and bias provides weak evidence the recruitment/tenure process in general is not slanted toward men because its findings were appropriately modest (roughly, a few potential sources of bias within the publication system can be ruled out), and because bias within the publication system is one of many potential sources of unfair advantage. The study posted at the APA blog provides weak evidence that our profession’s recruitment/tenure process is not slanted towards men because of the possible confounding reasons identified at the blog and others. And of course, as David Wallace mentioned, a general caution in cases like these is always appropriate.Report

giulia
giulia
Reply to  Grad
14 days ago

Could you give references for the “current data” suggesting “a significant bias in favor of minority demographic candidates and against majority demographic candidates”?Report

A Philosopher
A Philosopher
Reply to  giulia
14 days ago

https://dailynous.com/2016/05/03/gender-the-philosophy-job-market/

“The odds of women obtaining a permanent academic placement within two years is 65% greater than men when all else is held constant.“Report

krell_154
krell_154
Reply to  Jen
12 days ago

When these initiatives work, those in the majority who happen to be mediocre philosophers will not be offered jobs that their more qualified competitors in the minority should be offered.”

The problem is, it’s fairly easy to see how these initiatives could work to allow less qualified candidates from underrepresented demographics to get selected instead of a more qualified candidate form a majority demographic. It doesn’t seem that correcting historical injustices should be done by instituting new injustices.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  krell_154
12 days ago

I completely agree with everything you wrote.

“It doesn’t seem that correcting historical injustices should be done by instituting new injustices.”

I agree but these efforts are intended to prevent *future* injustices. And when properly carried out, they do so without producing injustices. So the best response is to support them while advising people to be cautious when carrying them out and to take steps to mitigate the risk of producing injustices.Report

krell_154
krell_154
Reply to  Jen
11 days ago

And when properly carried out, they do so without producing injustices.

This is we disagree, I guess. Focusing on the opportunity of each tenure or hire to increase diversity at least suggests that other factors, including excellence, will be downplayed. Meaning that two candidates alike in every aspect, except that one of them would increase diversity of the department, will not have an equal chance of getting hired. That seems an injustice to me.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  krell_154
10 days ago

“Focusing on the opportunity of each tenure or hire to increase diversity at least suggests that other factors, including excellence, will be downplayed.”

You’ve changed the language a bit. Here’s the original:

“Use each new hire and new tenure case as an opportunity to increase diversity in your department.”

What this suggests is that in hiring and tenure cases, increasing a department’s diversity can be given some value, e.g. by valuing a candidate’s demonstrated ability to recruit and mentor students from underrepresented groups. This is completely consistent with justice and a just process.

Contrary to what you claim, it does not suggest that anything will be downplayed or given less value.Report

Jen
Jen
Reply to  krell_154
10 days ago

Perhaps more importantly, even if it means “that two candidates alike in every aspect, except that one of them would increase diversity of the department, will not have an equal chance of getting hired,” it is not clear why this is an injustice. For if we understand increasing the department’s diversity in terms of some merit, such as being well-positioned to mentor students from underrepresented groups, then one of the candidates is more valuable to the department by virtue of increasing its diversity.Report

Last edited 10 days ago by Jen
Evan
Evan
Reply to  krell_154
10 days ago

You wrote: “Focusing on the opportunity of each tenure or hire to increase diversity at least suggests that other factors, including excellence, will be downplayed.”

This statement assumes that many or most hiring committees actually spend time assessing the quality of the research via reading the articles published by the candidates.

But do they actually read these articles? Or do they just look at where the articles were published and how much the candidates published?Report

Noki
Noki
Reply to  Evan
9 days ago

What seems to be decently common practice at least at mid-size departments: The hiring committee will read at least some work of everyone who makes the first short list. The papers of those invited for *fly outs* are more widely circulated in the department. The goal is that most faculty will have read at least some work of each fly out. So yes, articles are read.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  Noki
9 days ago

Thanks for letting me know. I have suspected that some departments do and some don’t. It would be fruitful to have some official data on this.Report

Noki
Noki
Reply to  Evan
8 days ago

Agreed.Report

Michel
Reply to  Grad
14 days ago

Don’t worry, your chances were incredibly slim to begin with. A job that gets just 300 applications is a job that gives you a “good” chance. 650+ applicants is common. One of my rejections cited 1200 applicants.

You’re pissing in the wind. The sooner you recognize it, the better. You aren’t special. Nobody on the philosophy job market is. You’re either lucky, or you aren’t. And if you are, you’ll have plenty of chances to see dozens of colleagues who are way, way better scholars than you drop out of the market and do something more sensible with their lives.

This kind of petty resentment is… well, it’s transparently petty. Even if it’s right–and I don’t think it is–It won’t make you feel better, and it won’t win you any friends.

Remember: you aren’t special. None of us are. It takes some people a while to realize it, but the sooner you do, the better.Report

David Wallace
Reply to  Michel
14 days ago

I think this is overstated. Most of the searches I’ve seen at Oxford, USC or Pitt have had very large applicant fields, to be sure – but in at least half of those searches, our first-choice candidate was also someone else’s first-choice candidate, so that we had to compete with them. It is implausible in the extreme that this would happen repeatedly if the selection process was largely chance. There is some set of discernable properties that are reasonably robustly sought out by (at least R1) philosophy search committees, such that receiving an offer from one of those committees is fairly strongly predictive of receiving an offer from others. (That’s neutral as to what that set of properties is! – I think R1 searches do track research quality, at least noisily, but I haven’t argued for that here.)Report

Michael Kremer
Reply to  David Wallace
10 days ago

David Wallace: completely agree. In recent searches at Chicago, not only have we had to compete for the candidates we eventually selected, if we had selected any of our other top (three to four) candidates brought to campus, we would have had to compete for them too — that is, they typically got R1 jobs.Report

Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Does anyone have any advice for how best to keep a straight face at a dinner party when cornered into conversation with a philosophy professor who fears that diversity hiring will hurt his professional ambition?Report

Grad
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Mayeb cite data that suggest otherwise?Report

Matt
Matt
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Probably just a lot of the same laborious soothing of white male egos that minorities and women in philosophy already have to do.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Philosophy professors have almost nothing to lose. It’s the untenured who pay the price, through no fault of their own. That doesn’t imply that affirmative action is wrong. But it behooves us to acknowledge, and to show a little sympathy to, those who are paying for it.Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  Hey Nonny Mouse
14 days ago

The fact that someone may be a philosophy prof doesn’t imply their tenured. I mean, wow — we should be concerned for people who are “paying for” diversity?

If you’ve read Plato, you’re privileged. If you’ve read Plato in Greek, you’re so privileged you should have outside-of-the-cave perspective on something as basically classist and privileged as tenure.

And so many people are struggling with restrictions on academic freedom, you’d think you’d show some courage and not complain that somehow pursuing an academic career in philosophy entitles you to lifelong security in scholarship.

I feel like half the people commenting on this thread are, like, Amy Chua’s personal circle. Blech.Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

And yes, I see my typo: it doesn’t imply *they’re* tenured. That’s what happens when you switch tracks mid-sentence. But I still say blech.Report

ajkreider
ajkreider
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

I think the worry may be that if we’re going the AA route in philosophy, it should be at the grad school entrance level, instead of the hiring or tenure level. That way, you get the diverse outcome without leading a whole group of non-diverse people down a primrose path that ends in an adjunct life or out of the field.Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  ajkreider
14 days ago

That’s probably true. I would be interested to see research on how supported minority grad students in philosophy feel by the faculty in their departments who are meant to support them in ultimately going after professorships. A lot of grad students grow past the interests they had entering grad school and find they don’t want to work with faculty they thought would be right for them.

Sometimes for minority students, finding faculty who they have rapport and comfort with as well as shared interests can be challenging. I realized in graduate school that the only faculty member with expertise in my chosen area of focus was a man with whom I wasn’t comfortable being alone. That’s just taking us back to the problem of faculty diversity in the first place, but it’s an issue.Report

rando professor
14 days ago

The authors seem to bury the lede a tad.Report

Jason Brennan
14 days ago

Given that the authors have, among themselves, less diversity than the typical KKK rally, I’m not sure I can trust their findings or recommendations. How about getting some diverse perspectives on this?Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  Jason Brennan
14 days ago

Less diversity than a KKK rally? In what sense?Report

rando professor
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Not the literal one. He’s making the point that the authors aren’t very diverse as a group, even if they’re literally more diverse than a KKK rally.Report

toro
toro
Reply to  rando professor
14 days ago

Weird way to phrase that point, if that’s what he meant. And you say this guy is a successful academic? But I just read upthread that the odds were so stacked against non-minorities that only the very best would ever make it.Report

Adjuncting
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

I think he’s trolling–or arguing via reductio, depending on how seriously you take him.Report

Jason Brennan
Reply to  Adjuncting
14 days ago

It’s not trolling. The KKK today and in the past was more diverse than the people making these recommendations.

https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/fryer/files/hatred_and_profits_under_the_hood_of_the_ku_klux_klan.pdfReport

Jason Brennan
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Here you go:

https://www.pdcnet.org/jbee/content/jbee_2018_0015_0285_0302

The KKK literally has more demographic and intellectual diversity than the authors of the piece above.Report

Jason Brennan
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
14 days ago

Sorry, wrong link:

https://scholar.harvard.edu/fryer/publications/hatred-and-profits-under-hood-ku-klux-klan

The KKK literally has more demographic and intellectual diversity than the authors of the piece in the OP.Report

John
John
Reply to  Jason Brennan
13 days ago

Jason’s diverse department at Georgetown: https://msb.georgetown.edu/faculty-research/strategy-economics-ethics-public-policy/faculty/

How’s a white guy going to ever catch a break?!!!!Report

Jason Brennan
Reply to  John
13 days ago

At least they have me as an affiliate, and I not white. I’m Irish.Report

Robert A Gressis
Robert A Gressis
Reply to  Jason Brennan
13 days ago

If I’m not mistaken, the phrase, “less diversity than the typical KKK rally” echoes a Tweet by Alexander Guererro to describe people who complain about diversity statements. See here: https://twitter.com/Alex_A_Guerrero/status/1392552119224389641.Report

Adjuncting
14 days ago

I agree with much of the skepticism expressed in these comments about the legality and morality of these sorts of recommendations. We need less affirmative action at the hiring stage and more effort to address the deeper causes of the inequities in the field.

It seems to me that departments should focus less on the hiring stage and more on the situation facing their adjuncts. If tenured and tenure track faculty would “share the wealth” a bit more with the rest of their departments’ members–such that adjuncts were paid decent living wages–then the field would change rapidly, I think. Part of the reason that we have to fight over these few spots (with some arguing for a meritocracy and others arguing for affirmative action) is that generally the other spots in the departments are filled with exploited adjuncts. If the field were more level in this respect, then minorities–like everyone else–would be more likely to pursue a PhD in philosophy and stick to it, knowing that their options weren’t exhausted by either tenure (low odds) or exploitation (high odds). The data on minorities pursuing fields that are perceived to be higher earning is robust, from my recollection (due to systemic differences in wealth and perceptions of earning potential driving career selection). I think this is one of the main ways to address the pipeline problem, get a more diverse (in the authors’ dimensions) field, and address the exploitation of adjuncts (which by my lights is a significantly worse problem than a lack of diversity).Report

aggregate
13 days ago

I would have thought that the diversity-related issue that the discipline faces, in the aggregate, is that there isn’t a diverse enough pool of people getting PhDs. This proposal ignores that entirely. Suppose that every department implemented these measures. The net result to the discipline as a whole would be zero increase in diversity, but a big increase in the number of job offers made to each of the few diversity-making candidates each of whom can, after all, take only one job. In other words, an ineffectual, self-congratulatory show.Report