The hiring rates of women in philosophy at the TT level are among the worst in universities, worse even than physics.
If a discipline is falling behind others on its support of diversity, it probably is not such a good thing for the area. Why should women even try to compete in a field they perceive as hostile? Far better to go into psychology, for example. At least in cognitive psychology, women have reached about 35%. In 2008, 12 women submitted papers in philosophy to the SPP. That suggests a certain lack of growth in the field.
We may have reached a tipping point or a dead end, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look good. If nothing else, this is not a politically healthy situation.
So unfair though many people no doubt will think it is, maybe colleges and universities should make an effort to hire women. Ads could encourage women to apply, committes could pay special attention to female applications and so on. In a short period, we can turn this around, right?
Wrong. Or probably wrong. A lot of places have been doing that for at least two decades and it doesn’t seem to be making a big enough difference, if it is making any. And if we look at the very well studied case of race and jobs, we can see the same problem.
Much prejudice tends to be indirect; bias leads one to perceive equally qualified people as qualified differently. As a very interesting WaPo article on implicit bias says:
In perhaps the most dramatic real-world correlate of the bias tests, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago recently sent out 5,000 résumés to 1,250 employers who had help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. The résumés were culled from Internet Web sites and mailed out with one crucial change: Some applicants were given stereotypically white-sounding names such as Greg; others were given black-sounding names such as Tyrone.
Interviews beforehand with human resources managers at many companies in Boston and Chicago had led the economists to believe that black applicants would be more likely to get interview calls: Employers said they were hungry for qualified minorities and were aggressively seeking diversity. Every employer got four résumés: an average white applicant, an average black applicant, a highly skilled white applicant and a highly skilled black applicant.
The economists measured only one outcome: Which résumés triggered callbacks?
To the economists’ surprise, the résumés with white-sounding names triggered 50 percent more callbacks than résumés with black-sounding names. Furthermore, the researchers found that the high-quality black résumés drew no more calls than the average black résumés. Highly skilled candidates with white names got more calls than average white candidates, but lower-skilled candidates with white names got many more callbacks than even highly skilled black applicants.
For employers who think they want to hire minority workers, an average white applicant can seem better than a highly qualified minority candidate.
So what’s causing the problem and what can we do? Good questions!