Reader H writes:
Could you post the following message anonymously on your blog, or write a short note in which my question is mentioned?
I would like to share some concerns about the job market, which may be relevant to women, but also to junior philosophers in general.
Recently, I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship for a 3-year period, following a grant competition. It’s an excellent grant that includes very limited teaching duties, a generous bench fee, and the possibility to fully concentrate on one’s own research. However, as I have already 3 years postdoc experience (as a teaching assistant and postdoc fellow), I am starting to wonder whether these untenured years will start to look bad on my cv. I have heard people talk about a ‘sell by date’ of 4 or 5 years after which potential employers do not take your job application seriously if you haven’t landed a tenure-track or other professorship.
Is it true that there is a bias against people who have longer postdoc careers? This might be an additional problem for female philosophers, since I (and other women philosophers I know) are a bit reluctant to apply for faraway jobs for family reasons. So it takes a while before a suitable job presents itself (especially now), and those jobs often go to people who transfer from another a tenure-track or assistant professorship.
My impression is that there is no longer a bias against people having lots of short-term jobs before finding a permanent one: it’s increasingly the norm. But do let me know what you think.