Recent Posts

The Bertrand Russell Show

Feminist Philosophers

fragments of consciousness

Gender, Race and Philosophy: The Blog

Knowability

Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog

Long Words Bother Me

semantics etc. highlights

Thoughts Arguments and Rants

Nostalgia

Nostalgia

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Zach Ernst writes about unprincipled denial of tenure

Philosopher Zach Ernst writes about his female colleague and wife who was just denied tenure by her department:

She was also specifically faulted for failing to design new courses for the department. If this strikes you as odd, it should – after all, I have also never designed a new course for the department. Nor was I ever asked to do so. But in my case, this issue never arose. Finally, with respect to her teaching, she was faulted for not teaching a wide enough variety of courses. But as I’ve already mentioned, our courses are assigned by fiat by the chair of the department, without our input or approval. And as you might expect by now, this issue never arose during my tenure process, despite the fact that both she and I taught exactly what we were assigned. Regarding her research, she was faulted because several of her papers were co authored – and as I’ve mentioned already, co-authored work and collaboration of any kind is discouraged in our department. However, a much larger percentage of my own publications were co-authored, often with three other colleagues. And predictably, this issue about co-authored publications was never raised during my tenure review. In fact, our department had recently adopted a policy about credit for co-authored work, which was scrupulously followed by both of us. If anyone should have come under criticism for this issue, it should have been me. I could go on. She had a vastly greater number of more prestigious presentations than I have ever had, many of which were in international forums (none of mine were). She had a larger number of invited articles to the most prestigious presses in her field, many more than I have ever had, despite the fact that I am two years senior to her. And despite all of this, my tenure case was a breeze, and hers has been a failure. When a man and a woman are being evaluated in a male-dominated field such as ours, it’s easy to spot hypocrisy and sexism. I would submit that this is one such case.

Here is the link to the full article. I have seen this happen repeatedly in recent times. Women are held to much higher standards than men in tenure and promotion cases.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm skeptical about your general claim. Is there evidence to support it?

Anonymous said...

There is evidence that the same paper is evaluated as better when presented as written by a man than when presented as written by a woman. There is evidence that the same c.v. is evaluated more favorably when topped with a man's name than a woman's. Is there evidence that philosophy tenure committees are immune to these general forms of well known well documented bias?

Brit Brogaard said...

Yes, the things mentioned by anonymous in the latest comment. I don't have nation-wide data on tenure cases. But I have seen a lot of these cases and have also been involved in evaluating them. Based on the limited number of cases I have witnessed, I can say with some confidence that women in these cases have been held to higher standards than the men.

serendipity said...

Thank You. What, do you believe, is the underlying reason for women being held to higher standards than men in this context? It is a continuance of the male dominance demand and assumptive spirit held throughout the centuries that women are not competent enough to be considered equal in value or relevance in these realms? Any reasonable thought of solutions to evolve further feminine relevance? and how may this virtuous, potential balance of male and female value be integrated and adapted within the very individuals and institutions that drive a collective conscience through being very fortunately positioned to access the established channels of communication which dominantly contribute to culturally accepted norms of authoritative intellect, the derivative socio-mimetic understandings, and the widespread applications (and, of course, corresponding creative And destructive affects of this assumed and applied authority on mass populations and in effect, influences on psycho-social evolution or devolution of politics, economy, environment and humanity in general )?

Brit Brogaard said...

You are asking some excellent but very difficult questions! I wish I knew how to even begin answering them. But, yes, I think implicit (and in some cases) not so implicit biases are driving this.

In one of the two cases in which a tenure or promotion case was turned down at my university (very very recently), the reason was that the woman in question was very outspoken both within and outside of her department (which was also a humanities department).

She had an excellent publication record but if you want to deny someone tenure, there is always something you can focus on. If nothing else, then you can claim that the dossier was messy and that you couldn't get a good sense of whether the candidate was fit or not (that happened in the other of the two cases).

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Oy! One question in my mind is why philosophy seems to be so *particularly* retrograde in this matter, compared to most of the other humanities and social sciences -- and why, within philosophy, women are especially unlikely to be in the LEMM areas. (Yes, I have data supporting that last assertion.)

Brit Brogaard said...

That's a good question, Eric. Are the data on your blog?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I don't think so. Maybe I should work up a post. Part of the problem is that my most systematic data are just for five states and just divide between ethics/non-ethics. For those data I see 28% female for ethics vs. 17% for non-ethics.

Brit Brogaard said...

I think it would be interesting to see the data and they would no doubt be a good starting point for a larger study. If you do decide to post about it, please do let me know.

Claus Emmeche said...

See also the sad news in the New York
Times, Sept. 24, 2012: "Bias Persists for
Women of Science, a Study Finds":

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/science/bias-persists-against-women-of-science-a-study-says.html

Kind regards, Claus

Claus Emmeche said...

See also the sad news in the
New York Times, Sept. 24, 2012:
"Bias Persists for Women of Science,
a Study Finds":
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/science/bias-persists-against-women-of-science-a-study-says.html

Kind regards, Claus

Brit Brogaard said...

Thanks, Claus! That's interesting.