Page for Discussion/Venting/Complaining[edit source]

  • Complain. But don't be mean. Contribute. But don't delete.
  • Upwards of 160 applications for 20 Early Modern/Medieval jobs. And this is a GOOD market.
  • Aarrgh! The AHA website says advance registration is $165 for nonmembers. So, already fuming at the injustice of it, I go to the online registration forms, resigned to pay $165 just to attend my one interview. But then, on the third page of the form, it informs me that they lied. It's only $165 if you register by December 19. After that, it's $190, which they call the "late advance" fee, or something like that. WELL, GUYS, IF YOU'D SAID SO ON THE PAGE ABOUT REGISTRATION FEES, I WOULD HAVE REGISTERED BY THE 19TH. Gzeesh, this is crazy, if not illegal. Does this mean I'm allowed to lie about my fields of expertise, too?
  • 1/16. This is not at all helpful now, obviously, but maybe will be for some people for next year. It sucks to pay exhorbitant fees, as a near-destitute grad student, to carry out a necessary part of your job, i.e. interview at AHA. But in practice YOU CAN INTERVIEW AT AHA WITHOUT REGISTERING. I know someone who did six interviews without registering. No one so much as mentioned her lack of a conference tag except when trying (unsuccessfully) to go to the book exhibit.
  • Not a complaint but a thanks to those of you who were so kind, supportive, and good humored at the AHA. It made such a difference to be able to share a laugh about the process, get wishes of good luck, and feel like part of a community. This can be a really stressful process and that kind of collegiality makes a big difference.
  • I dislike those high registration fees too but remember that, if you itemize, your job-search expenses are deductible on your taxes. The IRS stipulation is that the expense was a necessary cost of acquiring (or trying to acquire) a position. History departments force you to interview at AHA...that means your registration, food, lodging, and transportation are all deductible. The same applies to campus interviews (if the institution fails to reimburse--see the "Universities to Fear" discussion). So keep your receipts and get some of the loot back!
  • I tried interviewing at the AHA without registering (b/c I had heard that it was possible in the past) - nope! I couldn't get into the job center w/o the badge. I had one interview there and didn't attend anything else at the AHA. It was a very expensive interview!

Looking ahead[edit source]

  • Welcome to the LOST GENERATION
  • 23 applications, 13 canceled searches, 6 phone/AHA interviews, 3 campus visits, no jobs. This sound familiar to anyone else? So here's the $64,000 question for people like me, who had enough success this year to be reluctant to throw in the towel altogether, but not enough to make next year's employment anything but precarious. What's it going to be like next year? Will it be better, or will it be worse? Will it be better, because departments will re-advertise all those frozen searches? Or will it be worse, because the economy by all accounts will be worse, and because fewer departments froze searches than perhaps wanted to, because they didn't want to lose face, and thus will be scaling back even further next year? And does the poor financial outlook for universities, public and private, mean that even the adjunct market will be tight?
It will be worse. Searches are approved in the spring. Last year things looked, if not great, then ok. Colleges and universities are going to be planning for next year right now. So, my guess is, next year will be really, really, really, bad.
  • 19 applications, 6 canceled searches, 10 phone/AHA interviews, 2 campus visits, no jobs. Yes, that sounds very familiar. I have decided next year is my last. I suspect that next year will be significantly different. I think that there will be even fewer jobs. There are, it seems to me, fewer faculty retiring this year. With the market as depressed as it is, who would retire now? Furthermore, many public institutions are still, this year, operating on budgets from before the economic collapse. Next year's budgets will, invariably, be much smaller and more fiscally conservative. This may mean that we will see fewer canceled searches, which kind of good news. I, too, wonder about the canceled/frozen searches.
  • Next year will be by far the worst year for hiring in the humanities since the mid-1970s. State higher education budgets always lag a year behind the economy, private schools have taken enormous hits to their endowments, and faculty considering hiring have watched their TIAA-CREF accounts evaporate. I really don't anticipate much growth in the hiring of adjuncts at traditional 4-year institutions, as schools will simply hope to ride things out by jamming more students into each classroom. If anything, it might actually improve the quality of education as senior faculty return to teaching surveys. The real growth in terms of faculty hiring will be community colleges and branch campuses, where adjunct hiring will explode (and at seriously awful rates of pay). We may well be looking at a repeat of the mid 70s through the mid-80s when it was not at all unusual for even top 20 institution graduates to bump along for 10 years or more in visiting positions and adjunct work before landing a permanent position. Go and look over the c.v.s of faculty in your department who graduated '73-83' and prepare to weep.
  • Painful though it is to say it, the previous poster has it nailed. One of my advisors graduated in 1978 from a top ten program. Hu landed hir first tenure-track job 14 years later. By this point, hu had published four books, two of them prize-winning. It wasn't just hu, either; none of hir fellow graduates that year found a permanent position for years, and many just left the profession.
  • Just in case we all weren't aware of the misery ahead The NY Times has dutifully confirmed it (twice, so far). We're all royally fucked: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/books/25human.html?ref=education and http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/arts/07grad.html

Cancellations[edit source]

  • 76: Total - (anybody know out of how many?)
  • 3: Africa
William & Mary
Albion College
Hofstra University
  • 4: Ancient
Emory University
State University of New York, Cortland
University of South Carolina
University of West Georgia
  • 1: Asia
University of South Carolina
  • 14: Europe (Modern, Early Modern, Medieval, etc)
Brandeis University
Coastal Carolina University
Hofstra University
Long Island University, C.W. Post
Louisiana State University, Shreveport
University of Maryland
Salisbury University
University of Maine Farmington
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
University of Pittsburgh
University of Redlands
University of South Carolina, Aiken
Missouri University of Science and Technology
St. Joseph's University
Williams College
  • 8: Latin America
Arizona State University--Tempe, ASU West Campus-- on campus in progress NOT CANCELLED
East Stroudsburg, Latin America, "on hold"
Roger Williams University
SUNY Stony Brook
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Pittsburgh, "suspended"
Villanova University
William Patterson University
Emory search conducted in spite of lack of definite funding for the position.
  • 7: Middle East
Bard College
California State University, Chico
SUNY - Cortland
SUNY - New Paltz
US Naval Academy (North Africa)
Wayne State University
Western Illinois University
  • 24: United States
Brandeis (2 positions: 1800-present; ?)
Cornell University (20th C)
Indiana University
Johns Hopkins (hiring freeze, 12/19)
Long Island U., CW Post Campus, 20th C
Missouri Southern State University
Northern Kentucky University (post-1945)
Ohio University (US & World Post WWI) - conducting AHA interviews but will evaluate position in Jan
Salisbury, 19th & 20th C
Stanford (U.S./International)
University of Idaho
University of Illinois at Chicago, US & World
University of Florida, 1790-1920
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, US & World
University of Missouri
University of Toledo (Political; Cultural and Social)
University of Virginia (19th Century US only)
University of Washington, Seattle (2 positions: US & World; US & World at Jackson School)
Weber State University, two searches folded into 1
Yale University (US&World, search failed/concluded)
Yeshiva University
Kent State-Trumbull
  • 4: World
Fayetteville State University (suspended indefinitely)
University of Maine, Farmington
University of Calgary
University of Louisville (VAP in History of Civilizations)
  • 10: Non-Geographical
Arizona State University (American Indian History)
Ohio University (Military History)
Stanford University (Diplomatic History)
University of Alabama-Huntsville (History of Science)
University of South Carolina (History of Nationalism)
University of Washington-Bothell (History of Science)
Utah Valley University (Public History)
Sarah Lawrence College (History of Science)
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (American Indian History)
UMinnesota Morris (environ history

Searches on hold, suspended, in limbo, and not yet canceled: 7

Emory University, Medieval Europe
Kent State Univ, European Science & Tech
UMass Amherst 20th century U.S. "suspended" - REINSTATED 12/17
Macalaster College, African History, "postponed"
Northwest Missouri State University, Western Civ - SUSPENDED 2/5/09; Reinstated only a few days later
SUNY-Cortland, Ancient/medieval
Sam Houston State University, History of Medicine/Gender and Sexuality Studies/African or Middle Eastern Studies

Rumored (but NOT confirmed) hiring freezes:

Arizona State University --general system-wide freeze announced, many searches cancelled; there ARE exempted lines
Emory University
Florida State University
State University of New York (all?)
University of Denver
Every University in Louisiana--state-wide hiring freeze.
University of Minnesota
Entire Cal State University system
UMass Amherst (not hard, not soft--kind of crusty, Slurpee-esque)

--Can anyone out there provide more information on any of these?

-Just curious - how many cancellations across fields so far? Are canceled searches included in job loss statistics, or are they not technically counted as lost jobs?
-The process of notifying candidates of canceled jobs (or the naming of finalists for that matter) completely lacks transparency. Further, the communication (decency?) between search committees and applicants is sadly inadequate.
-If I can go to the trouble of putting together and mailing hundreds of pages of material, shouldn't an email at least be possible?
- I've received cancellation notices that others haven't, or I haven't received notices when others have. I may be overly generous here, but I imagine that SC's hate this and are just poorly organized and overwhelmed, rather than blatantly secretive. In some ways, that makes it worse.
-you need to understand that search committees are not usually admin honchos--the SCs are getting yanked around as much as the candidates. think about how many files these people have read...multiple your files times HUNDREDS, and now they can't get straight answers from their own admin.

On the Wiki . . .[edit source]

I wish more people would participate in this wiki. I get the feeling a lot of folks aren't aware of it. I know I didn't know about it last year.

It's true the info would be better if more people participated. It's also true that this process helps keep search committees honest and their searches more transparent. However, I think most of my stress over the job market has come from checking this wiki and getting information that only very rarely leads to anything but speculation. I'm promising myself not to check it at all next year.

  • Indeed, speculation abounds on these Wiki sites. I feel that my own thirst for information--any information-- on the job process has added to my stress. These sites, however, at least provide some light on an all-together dark and shadowy process. I don't think that all of the speculation is wrong. This process is so dehumanizing that any tidbit of information, even biased erroneous information, can be satisfying. I have learned more about canceled searches on these sites than I have from Search Chairs, even ones that I have had direct communication with. More participation would be fantastic!
  • On a brighter note, it may be ugly out there, but at least this ain't the auto industry.

How do we publicize the wiki to get more people involved/raise awareness?

  • I wonder if it's ok to post messages on H-Net discussion logs? Otherwise, simply word of mouth. This is particularly easy for graduate students or recent PhDs who could tell the junior grad students in their departments about it.
  • I actually found out about the wiki last year from an hnet email - I think it would be a good idea to recirculate it - at least among the major ones (Hnet-Grad, for example - and the major history areas).
  • I also just noticed that an article on the job market in the fall Perspectives made mention of this wiki in passing.
  • I think it is important that we discuss this in graduate seminars. We need to make space in our classes to discuss this incredibly complex, often frustrating process. I think examining the academic job market, for example, as a market where fellowships, publications, possess a value that potential employers seek to quantify (much like they quantify tenure) is an important issue to address.

Associate Professors in "Open Rank" or "Assistant or Associate Professor" Searches[edit source]

A number of searches are "open rank" or "Assistant or Associate Professor." Considering the ubiquitous budget crunch, do you think that departments will hire assistant professors over associate professors? I can imagine that a dean might pressure a department to hire an entry-level assistant professor for $52,000 over a mid-career associate professor for $75,000.

I will confess that this is not mere idle curiosity. I am an associate professor, and a several of the jobs for which I applied were "Assistant or Associate Professor." In two cases, after having given my application an initial review, I was asked to send copies of my books. (I had already sent copies of selected chapters with my application materials.) Naturally, I complied with the requests, bought, and shipped off the books. Six weeks later, the applicable wiki page indicates that both schools have extended invitations for AHA interviews. I have gotten no interviews, but no rejections either.

Any thoughts? Fistikli 17:47, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

  • My experience with the history job wikis is... if you see that someone else got an interview, you've been rejected. This may not ALWAYS be the case, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Universities often only send rejections letters out after they've actually filled the position (in March, April, May). That's why the Wikis are so useful. No need to wait around wondering.

I pretty much assumed that I have been rejected, but I wouldn't mind the consideration of a rejection note, even if it's just an e-mail. Based on the wiki, several other people applying to these same schools have already gotten rejection e-mails. I'd like out of limbo. Fistikli 18:24, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

  • I have started emailing Search Chairs that I have not yet heard from. Some have been forthcoming and said that no decisions have been made or that I am not on the short list. More than one has said that everyone is still considered to be in the pool of applicants until a hire is made (which is utterly indecisive and just generally crappy). A few have been quite open and honest and stated that the jobs are frozen/suspended/in limbo. Why some of these people do not communicate openly and honestly is beyond me. Everyone in academia has gone through this process and should understand the effort that goes into each and every application packet. One would think that an acknowledgment would be possible. Is decency too much to ask?
  • Been there and it sucks to be in this position. It would certainly help if departments could at least let us know if we'd made the short list -- even a long version of the short list. But it is true that everyone is considered to be under consideration until a hire is made. That is the other reason why this wiki is so great: those of us who are on the market can share info with one another that departments cannot share with us.
  • I believe SC's are often constrained by HR policy. e.g., I had a phone interview (1 of 6 people), and the SC planned to bring 2 of us to campus. I hadn't heard anything after the time frame they mentioned in the phone interview, so I assumed I was out of the running. And I was: a day or two later, a member of the search committee (who was a friend) let me know off the record that I was rejected, but that they could not send official notice until after an offer had been made and accepted, which, of course, would take 6+ weeks from the time of my phone interview.

Anyway, what do you think about the assistant vs. associate question? Fistikli 18:24, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Well as someone who is applying for assistant positions, I do not like being put into direct competition with associates. At a very basic level, I don't understand these searches. How can committees compare applicants. For my field, Latin America, there is a big difference between the two ranks. Associates are assumed to have monographs, while few (if any) assistants would. I recognize that this may not be the case for other caucuses. I do think, however, given the financial constraints of every university these days, most deans would prefer cheaper hires.
  • I don't know that there is a single answer to this question. In my experience, it entirely depends on the needs of the department at that moment in time and the particulars of the search. Associates have demonstrated publishing records. They also have established scholarly identities. So they are more of a "known" entity when it comes to hiring. They also have more experience, which can help when it comes to getting up and running, participating in graduate as well as undergrad training, etc. These are all pluses. At institutions where promotion and tenure are linked, this also means hiring in someone with tenure, however. That weds the department to living with that person for a long time...which can obviously be a good or a bad thing depending on how it all works out. Sometimes departments would rather hire in someone who they can train and who they hope will grow into the position, while still having an out if the person turns out not to be a good fit with the department, despite everyone's hopes. Associates are also more expensive. Depending on the make-up of a department, some places badly want and need freshly minted scholars because they have very few entry or mid level assistant professors while others have a greater need for those with a bit more seniority and experience. Members of a department also may not agree on what exactly they want...That seems to happen pretty often, too.

Often when a search is Assistant or Associate it means that the higher up administration will approve an associate salary IF a candidate from a desired, under-represented group applies. Accreditation agencies are putting more and more pressure on institutions to have race and gender balance in their faculty. So the "or Associate" is sometimes a fishing expedition to try to steal away a strong woman or minority candidate from another school, and the "assistant" is the fallback. Other times it is simply a desire to keep the door open for an superstar scholar who might be interested in moving. Typically, if it is an "or" search, the decision to hire at the associate level is not under the control of the department--if they come up with an associate candidate who will be especially attractive to higher-ups, they'll get an okay, but otherwise they will need to hire an assistant. So if you are an associate applying for one of those positions, you have to be really, really great to get it, or be from an under-represented group that the institution is trying to attract.

I have the impression that search committees want to hedge their bets at all times and to make things as easy on themselves as possible. How does that play out?
1) Not formally rejecting some (or even all) candidates until a final offer is accepted. Why? Just in case, for some bizarre reason, between the 10-12 of the candidates interviewed at the AHA, they can't come up with 3 good ones to bring to campus. That way, they can turn to the C list. Or if all three of their on-campus interviewees turn down the offer, they can turn to the B list. This sounds crazy, but I have been on search committees, and this sort of stuff happens. It isn't fair, and it's like senior professors have forgotten what it's like to be waiting and waiting for that letter, e-mail, or phone call.
2) (And this is speculation on my part.) Maybe departments don't really know what they want so they decide to hold open rank or assistant/associate searches. It's an unfair situation for all candidates involved. The associates are considered pricey hires and are expected to be worth "the big bucks" that dean thinks she or he is paying them. Plus, the associates can't be seen as rocking the boat of the existing department culture, even though they are accomplished, mature scholars. The assistants are judged against the associates, with whom they can't compete in terms of publications.
To be honest, I have never participated as a SC member in an open rank search, but my hunch tells me that assistants have the advantage. They are cheaper hires, they are "unformed" and can be molded to the departmental culture, and they are not automatic hires-for-life. I can see how senior professors might find a fresh PhD unthreatening vs. hiring a colleague who may have more publications publications than they. Fistikli 16:03, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

    • this is such BS on the part of Depts; they should know whether they want an Asst. or Assoc.- poster above is right -they are completely different and the two cannot compete on the same terms -this whole process is so bizarre..and it engenders disfunctionality...i've only applied to asst jobs and some open track ones, but i haven't heard from only a couple...thank god for this wiki site! at least we can all pool the little information each one of us has...let's keep it up!

-Departments rarely decide the level of the search, they may request for a particular level but it is the adminstration that decides. Often a department will want an Associate, but the adminstration comes back luke warm on the idea and hence the combined Asst/Assoc search. Also, departments may have a particular person or area in mind at the Associate level but become unsure whether that Associate will come and broaden to an Assistant search. If there are advantages to the Assistant hire it is not only salary but at what level the Assistant comes in at. A newly minted PhD may have the advantage here not only because they are cheaper, but the hiring department might be less suspicious of a tenure track or about to be tenured Assistant who is seeking leverage at their current job.

–I currently serve on a SC for an open rank search (but at the Assoc/Full level). Budgetary constraints now have admin telling us that full is pretty much off the table, assoc is iffy, and assistant may be all we can get. I agree that this year, assistants have the advantage.

  • I second the above. I would also add that as far as the question of hedging the bets goes, it is not about making the committee's job easier, as someone suggested above. The committee has no obligation to the applicants beyond basic courtesy. The committee does, however, have some pretty serious obligations to its own department. The most important of these is to make a good hire. Searches take a lot of time, and cost a lot of money to run. If a search fails--and I have served on a failed search--the committee members have to explain themselves at length to their colleagues and to the dean, who might very well decide to punish the department by yanking the line. Even if the line survives the wrath of the administration, colleagues often react by deciding that the field in question is no longer viable and opting to search in some other area the next time. So the committee just wants to bring home a candidate. And until it has an accepted offer, all applications have to remain in play. If the committee starts sending out early rejections to spare everyone's feelings, it is almost an iron-clad law that it will come back to bite them later in the form of a dozen maladjusted, freakishly twitchy AHA interviewees (I've seen it happen), or three campus candidates who just flat out bomb (seen that too). That is why all applications have to remain live until the bitter end, not because committees are staffed by insensitive jerks. It isn't personal. It undeniably sucks when you have no job, but it isn't personal.
  • I, for one, am not buying the woeful, thankless job of the search committee described above. Search committee members obviously have obligations to their departments and universities, but these in no way conflict with basic decency. Search Chairs should communicate the status of the process to all applicants. Committees need not automatically reject applicants who are not selected for interviews, but the Search Chair does need to relay basic information. A simple email stating something like: A group of finalists have been selected for interviews, but all applicants remain viable until the search is complete. That's it. How hard is that? Basic communication might, just might, help to relieve those "maladjusted, freakishly twitchy" candidates. Furthermore, are these search committees still advancing the agenda of their colleagues even after jobs have been canceled? There have been plenty of jobs that have been frozen and no one has bothered to tell all the applicants. Read the Wiki pages for plenty of examples. I am sorry, but the hiring process for historians has created and perpetuated a culture of secrecy and competition. Failed searches are indeed the fault of search committees and open, honest communication with applicants is NOT the reason (but that is another discussion).

Gender, Race & Ethnicity in the Hiring Process[edit source]

  • New question related to above - how much does gender count for this - is there still a big imbalance in departments? Does being a woman have an advantage for history searches?
  • and what about Latino and African-American faculty, not! affirmative action and/or "preferring" applications from underrepresented minorities is a myth, in my experience. Faculties are not representative of their student bodies, less and less so I would guess.. any comments?
  • These are important issues that do not get enough attention. Race, ethnicity, and sex (not so much gender) are absolute factors that go into the hiring process. BUT these factors are often not openly discussed. Certainly applicants rarely know that this is a factor. There seems to be a real gap between what individual faculty say and what actually happens. Academia claims to be a meritocracy, but identity issues are factors in the hiring process. The conflict here should not be unstated. I do not know the statistics, but allegorically it seems that so called minority candidates get interviews (but not necessarily the jobs) at a hire rate than non-minorities (referred to as dominant races by one dean that I know). And, to be clear, I believe that diversity should be advanced by specifically integrating underrepresented groups. I think that this process should be more open.
  • I agree that the idea that female or minority candidates get preferential treatment in the search process is a myth. My department recently conducted a search in which certain members of the department successfully strategized to bring only white candidates for on campus interviews just so they wouldn't have to consider race or ethnicity. They used every excuse they could think of to do this, usually relying on prestige of schools and recommenders. One candidate they brought to campus was embarassingly underqualified, but one of his professors is friends with the SC chair. As the only person of color in this department, I'm trying to flee as fast as I can (hence my presence on the wiki).
  • My experience has been the inverse, although I think the advantages to being a woman have diminished some in significance over the last several years, as women have come to be at least 50% of the job applicant pool. But I have seen two different searches get suspended, not for economic reasons, but because the first two qualified black finalists could not be persuaded to take the job. The third candidate in both instances had a much more impressive c.v. and did a great job on campus (and in both instances, a white woman) was not offered the job.
  • FWIW, two years ago I was verbally offered a job (I'm female) only to have the SC head call me and tell me that, despite being the most qualified candidate by far (his words), the dean had overriden them and picked the Hispanic (male) candidate in order to increase diversity on campus. I didn't even know this was illegal! But by federal law, race and gender can only be considerations when two otherwise equally qualified candidates are up against one another. I think this is another case where the total secrecy of this process makes it possible for SC's to engage in all kinds of semi-legal or bluntly illegal maneuvering-- whether for or against minority candidates!

Of course, race and gender play a role in the hiring process, but I think its impossible to generalize. I think all the anecdotes here are "true". Sometimes being a woman/minority candidate is an advantage, sometimes a disadvantage. But "merit" alone has never been the deciding factor in searches. People favor candidates because of methodology, specific topic, institutional background, and personality. I think getting a job is crap shoot in which someone can come up with a million justifications for why it did or did not happen for them. That said, I do think that department's try to bend over backwards to hire women/minorities in their traditional fields (i.e. get an African American to teach African American history) but I think this hurts minority candidates in other fields.

  • I'm not sure anyone here is arguing that searches are or should be defined strictly on "merit" (whatever that can mean!); we all know that departmental needs and fit, for example, are issues. I DO think that we should be able to discuss publicly the dirty little secret that some SCs are using race or gender as hiring quals such that searches are cancelled or unqualified candidates are hired, especially when that's illegal under the law. There has to be a better way, and I think making this whole process more transparent would be a step in that direction.
re above: ha, "unqualified" candidates hired! By whose criteria? You've bought into a myth that there is some objective standard against which candidates can be measured. What is that? quality of institution, number of publications, graduate school grades? Search Committees have always used a host of extra criteria to justify hiring/not hiring someone. I think its wrong to fixate on this a gender/race problem. Or even as problem. This is the way the world is and the only thing that has shifted (and only a little is the underlying justifications. This is like complaining about the weather.
The weather?!?! You can't be serious, can you? That is not only flippant, but also dismissive. No, it is more than that: this statement and attitude does disservice to the long history of race and gender as influential forces in the academy and American culture. Now, are race and gender the only factors in most hires? Obviously not. But they can not be so simply and blatantly tossed aside either. We are all historians here (I assume), so I would expect at least a bit of sensitivity or knowledge of the history of race and gender in American institutions and society.
I am a white male. Right before a campus visit, I found out that the whole search was a spousal hire for the (white) husband of a (white) prof they'd hired the year before. I went through with it, and as I was being walked to the train station by the head of the search committee, he warned me that "because they were under such pressure to hire minority candidates" I should not be surprised if I was passed by... In the end, both the husband and myself received offers and worked there happily: two more white guys. People feel very comfortable lying about "having" to hire "minorities," because most listeners believe them.
That's a great point; it makes me wonder how many of these unqualified etc. rumored candidates really exist and how many are SC inventions?? But... surely there's a difference between "complaining about the weather" and discussing practices that violate federal law. When/if/as the latter happens, it's only made possible by the lack of transparancy, and letting the SCs get away with that (in general, in all aspects of the search) is not in our best interest as job seekers, I think.

A very clear and present danger has emerged in academia where SCs are under pressure to hire women and minorities when conducting searches in those fields. In other fields, however, I fear that the old boy system is firmly entrenched. What will be the long-term consequences of this? Imagine the state of social history without the hundreds of men and women who who have contributed to a field that they themselves were not a member of. Imagine a world where women and minority students are discouraged from studying whatever it is that interests them, just so that they can get a job. Imagine if only Europeans could get hired for the top jobs in European fields. I hope I am wrong. Any discussion?

You are not wrong. In fact, I think this is a real trend-not absolute but I was discouraged from AFAM by my advisor for this very reason. I wish I would have listened, b/c even with a book contract I can't get a job if there is a well-qualified minority scholar. I also do gender but so far no college has even considered me for any job where a gender field is listed as a priority. I understand the sentiment behind this and agree that there should be recruitment of minority scholars, but this should be accross the discipline. Or maybe its just sour grapes from a three-time AHA loser.
In re gender/sex no longer mattering: Just in this past year, I was told outright that as a woman with a wedding ring, SCs would be anxious about hiring me, I guess because they would be worried that I might have a baby someday. I really couldn't believe this... for all they knew, I could have had 5 kids at home already! I can't imagine a man being given this warning. Also this year, people have assumed that I work on gender or women's studies, which I do not, not at all. Finally, more than one of my "friends" have suggested that my interviews are the result of the SCs "having to interview a woman." So you know, things are definitely getting better all around, but I hardly think these things have stopped mattering.
  • I watch some trends in the job search process, particularly over the last few years, and I'm often surprised to hear that female and minority applicants are not preferred over male or white applicants, especially when these candidates have been, historically, part of the minority of the applicant pool. Now, I only keep data for my subfield and for research institutions / highly ranked liberal arts colleges, so the data isn't perfect, but white men barely constitute 1/3 of the hires despite being roughly 1/2 of the applicant pool. I've seen suspicious job searches that seem to be prejudicial against whites or men, which could actually make institutions vulnerable to litigation. I strongly suspect that history search committees see preferential hiring and the EOO as a "burden" to be shoved off onto "unimportant" subfields--i.e. the world of billions of human beings outside of Western Europe and the United States. I think that if you're in one of the "dominant" historical fields, history looks pretty much like it did in 1980--which was what Liz Lumbeck said in the AHR--but if you work in other subfields, it looks more balanced or, in some cases, even shifting away from the "old white man" model. Rather than lay the blame at old liberal white guys alleviating their guilt by hiring women and minorities into fields about which they don't give a damn, I'd say the more pernicious problems are university networks and aggressive advisers who distort the field with excessive influence. And I do want to take exception to the idea that "there are no standards" for judging the strength of a candidate. If that's true, then screw academia, I'll go into computer programming, where I can be paid twice as much to work in a field that doesn't value intellectual labor. I don't want to be a part of a faculty whose only real objective is to become a Benetton ad in order to placate their students. The original purpose of Equal Opportunity Offices was to ensure that we're being judged on our intellect and achievements, which include publications, grants won, recommendations, and the *quality* of our ideas in print. I know that's naive, but it's an ideal worth aspiring to. In general, I'd support looking at the problems of representation by subfield. If American history is still dominated by white men, which I suspect it is, why use it to judge candidates in South Asian history, which is not? Otherwise, you're using a bomb to hammer a nail, and it has nasty side effects like allowing the persistence of old boy networks in established fields.
  • I do not want to take particular issue with anything presented above, but I do want to point out that the variety of the perspectives here may reflect the absence of transparency in this process. I am not sure that there is even A process. EOO clearly was a response to real and open discrimination based on race and gender--and, I suspect, few among us oppose that. Nevertheless, there seems to be a cavernous gap between the principles and how they are implemented. The application EOO does support basic and unexamined notions of race and ethnicity. I do not have quantitative data to support this, but qualitatively I feel confident saying that identity (more accurately, identity politics) has become an important, maybe even determining, factor in searches and hires. The trend (but not rule) that I have seen is that this is especially prevalent for non-US and non-European hires. African Americans are preferred for issues related to African American history, Latinos for Latin America, Middle Easterners for the Middle East, etc, etc. And study Gender History? Well then you couldn't possibly be a straight male. I do not necessarily believe that faculty necessarily reinforce this, but certainly administrators do.


Ivy Biases?[edit source]

Here is a "discussion" from the Latin American History Wiki (which has now been deleted--also deleted are the personal insults). And, just to note, there are multiple posters here. Are there more reasonable/balanced views out there?

  • What school is the candidate from?
Harvard.
BIG surprise.
I've heard that Harvard PhDs don't even really have to interview. Their Campus visits are just long cocktail parties and everybody laughs about how stupid all those non-Harvard PhD's are. Supposedly they don't even have to write their dissertations. They just send in a piece of Harvard letterhead with their signature and the job is theirs. At least that's what I've heard.
Oh, no. Each one is more brilliant than the next. Sure they have to go through the pedestrian tasks of writing and interviewing, but everyone knows that they are far superior to those proletarian Ph.D.s. from state schools. Simply look at the jobs that they get and, of course, remember to note that they went to Harvard.
3/2 Why beat up on Harvard? Maybe by making it to Harvard--and through the program there--simply means that these PhDs are generally of a higher intellectual level? It's not a class thing (as per the 'proletarian' comment above), it's a talent thing (at least since full funding for grad school started at many schools).
A "a higher intellectual level" and "talent thing". That is just naively stupid.
A how about something more direct: they're smarter and better historians. i think that's what the 3/2 poster was getting at without being direct. what's naively stupid about the idea that harvard phds are likely to be smarter and better historians than "proletarian phds from state schools"?
Several points here: First, having no specific knowledge of the candidate, one should have nothing but praise for a fellow academic getting a job--so congratulations to that person! Second, related to the biases towards those of the Ivy-ilk, the assertion that Harvard historians are just "smarter and better historians" is unbelievably ridiculous that it barely merits a response (but here goes anyway). Please do tell me what distinguishes an Ivy-league graduate from others. Is it years of generous, committed funding and the lack of competition for grants, scholarships and awards? Or is it, maybe, the absence of real (as in any) teaching experience? Do Ivy-league dissertations have unique Ivy-only sources? Do Ivy-leaguers have special powers of historical analysis that only can be taught, learned, and understood by other Ivy-leaguers? I suspect that, at base, Ivy-leaguers are distinct because they are from the Ivy-leagues (but that may be a tautology and I am from a state school with Ivy-league envy, so I do not know if I can really use a smart word like that). Scholars are scholars, no matter where they come from. Finally, really? REALLY!?!? Some Ivy-leaguers need to figure out that their IP addresses identify their exact location. One should figure out how the internet works before claiming to be of superior intellect. Please, get over yourself and your Ivy education.
The fact that Ivy-Leaguers have years of noncompetitive funding and few teaching obligations means that they have more time to work on their research, and, in my experience, most hiring committees are a lot more worried about research accomplishments than teaching experience. So if you have more time and resources to dedicate to your research , isn’t it likely that your research will be better and that you will have been able to finish it in a timely fashion (another major consideration for search committees)? Not to mention that the Harvards of the world have tremendous library and human resources that often can’t be matched by other universities. Now to assume that somebody is just better because they went to Harvard is silly, but I think that’s a straw man. I’ve served on search committees, been privy to the deliberations of others, and nobody is being wowed by Ivy League names alone. Lots of Ivy league candidates wind up way down hiring lists because their work isn’t that great, or they are assholes in the interview, or whatever, but the same is true for people coming from all those terribly underprivileged state institutions like Michigan, Wisconsin, UCLA, Berkeley, Texas, and the rest. But let’s not kid ourselves: many Ivy League candidates are really good because it’s really hard to get into those programs and once you’re in you have tremendous resources at your disposal (just as you do at the top state institutions). To suggest that this doesn’t give those students an edge over the students who are teaching two courses a semester and having to scratch and claw for the money to take a research trip is, frankly, ridiculous.
Well, this argument is fundamentally different than claiming that the Ivy-educated are "smarter and better historians." Your so-called straw man has been put out there by an Ivy; the real straw man, if we are going to play on logic, is that tremendous human resources and libraries are what distinguish an Ivy PhD from others. And, lest we forget, two of the best libraries for Latin America--the Benson and the Bancroft--are at state institutions. Further, it is nothing but a specious argument to claim they are better because they got into Harvard. Is this some kind of claim to objective intelligence and that university admissions and departments are the arbiters of intellect? Of course there are differences. It seems to me that getting experience teaching in grad school and locating independent sources of funding ON TOP of writing original research is the exact preparation one needs for the academy. Where, except the Ivys, does an academic not have balance teaching, research and funding? Do tell.
The Argument is “fundamentally different” because I was responding directly to you. Your words were: “Please do tell me what distinguishes an Ivy-league graduate from others. Is it years of generous, committed funding and the lack of competition for grants, scholarships and awards? Or is it, maybe, the absence of real (as in any) teaching experience?” And the answer was essentially “yes”, that is what distinguishes Ivy candidates (or candidates from the top state schools) from other candidates. Those things end up making many of them very good candidates. And the straw man was basically suggested by various posts, I believe several by you, claiming it “a joke” or a “big surprise” that Harvard candidates got good jobs. Obviously those comments were meant to suggest that Harvard candidates get good jobs just because they are from Harvard. Or did you mean something else? It’s really bizarre that you can’t fathom that the schools with the most money to offer incoming graduate students aren’t going to end up getting many of the best qualified and most outstanding candidates from the undergraduate ranks, unless you think previous performance in college is a completely bogus measure. Let’s try a soccer analogy. In Europe there are big rich teams like Real Madrid and Manchester United that have essentially unlimited resources to pay their players and staff. Those teams go out and try to recruit the very best players with the very best resumes, and since they pay the best and have the most exposure and the best reputations, they get those players, thus they have a higher percentage of players who appeared to have the highest potential whenever they entered the professional ranks. Once they have them, they have more money to invest in them—in the best fitness technologies, in the best team physicians, in the best coaches, in the best everything. So those players not only had better resumes when they joined these clubs, but they then have the added advantage of having the best resources while being pushed by other outstanding teammates. Now inevitably some of those players flame out, disappoint, get lazy, and generally don’t perform up to what was expected, but at the end of the day only someone who is delusional would think that Real Sociedad or Leeds United is going to have as many good players as Real Madrid and Manchester United. Now one of the poorer teams might occasionally find a “late bloomer” who winds up being better than most of the guys on Real Madrid, but it’s more likely that the players from Real Madrid will in general wind up having better careers than those from Real Sociedad. Some version of this is also at work when one is comparing graduate schools, though it’s admittedly much less “efficient” than a pro sports market because how we measure quality academic work is much more subjective than how we measure good soccer players. But that doesn’t mean that these measures are 100% subjective or even 50% subjective. Have you ever served on a admissions committee or a search committee? It’s not a completely random process. There are things like writing samples, letters of recommendation, test scores and grades that take some of the subjectivity out of it. Now if you think all of that stuff is completely bogus, then I guess we might as well agree to disagree.
To the actual issue at hand, I have served on hiring committees and know lots of people at or from the Ivys, so my knowledge of this is first hand and not tangential. I also know lots of people in the academy, from a host of different universities. Yes, of course, the Ivys have loads of money and their students have access to resources, but your argument that this inherently makes them better candidates is missed on me. Further, how this defines them as smarter and better historians is equally missed. The wealth of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, by my account, hardly overcomes what often are tremendous gaps in the CVs of many of their grads--namely gaps in teaching experience and external funding. Now, of course, this is not true across the board, but as a whole Ivy grads have little experience in the classroom. A number of faculty from the Ivys that we have hired in my department have come to grad students for advice on teaching. At state schools that lack the deep coffers, grad students are forced by necessity to seek nationally competitive sources of funding. This, essentially, creates a level of evaluation on projects that may not be there if a well-funded student chooses not to go after additional money. I will stand the CVs of people I know at Berkeley, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and UCLA against any Ivy any day. I have, in fact, seen the CVs of friends from these institutions and those from friends at Harvard and Yale and there is little competition. There clearly is deference given to many Ivys -- a deference that is not fundamentally rooted in merit. Deny it if you like, but it is there nonetheless. And, by the way, I am always happy to talk about this, but I am now done posting on this topic.(My incorrect statement removed).
Ok, so you are basically saying that you take it for granted that the candidates from these other institutions are pretty much by rule better than those from the Ivys. I get it. So instead of actually showing that there's some ridiculous bias shown in favor of the Ivys you've show, that if you were in charge, there would be a ridiculous bias against the Ivys. Not only that, but there is "little competition" when you compare the two. Amazing. So it's not just that there is a some perhaps not so surprising bias in favor of all of those old and august Ivys, it's that the students from there are actually inferior but have everyone so completely turned around that they actually get all the best jobs! Wow! That's amazing. You should write a book about this. I bet it would get you a really good job.

-What I found interesting about these posts as I was reading them initially on the Latin American page is that they were all centered around who got jobs at Ivy League schools (Harvard, Princeton) and to a lesser extent who got jobs at research-oriented, but not Ivy schools (Syracuse, Emory). People wanted to know what schools the candidates came from. Interestingly enough, no one bothered to ask what schools candidates hired at smaller, teaching colleges came from. So isn't the person/people who claim to be frustrated with the Ivy bias just reinforcing the notion that Ivy/research schools are better? Why don't you care who was hired at teaching schools?

You are absolutely right. As a point of clarification, I was one of the posters expressing general frustration over what I perceive to be biases for Ivies, but I never asked about where candidates where from. The Research I distinction can be just as hollow as the Ivy superiority-complex. I also think that it would be wrong (as some, not me) to slight candidates for getting interviews/jobs.
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