How to advertise to women

I wondered if anyone shared this feeling. Every time I see this job advert come past (and it’s come to me repeatedly recently, via various lists):

Applications are invited for a permanent lectureship in Philosophy of Cognitive Science [..]. The successful candidate will conduct philosophical and interdisciplinary research and teaching [..]. She or he will have a PhD and publications commensurate with their stage in
career, and should demonstrate potential for attracting external funding.

I go all warm and fuzzy inside. For some reason the mere writing of “she or he” rather than the more usual “he or she” makes me feel that there must be someone behind this post who has really taken some important issues to heart, and who must be really committed to, or at least aware of, the possibility of hiring a woman.

For some reason this way of phrasing the ad makes me feel welcome and included, whereas the more usual phrases of the sort “we are an equal opportunities employer” or “women are particularly encouraged to apply” do not. I guess that the difference is that those latter phrases merely state that women are encouraged – which can seem lipservice – whereas the phrasing in the ad above actually encourages women; it demonstrates a commitment and embodies encouragement.

So, 1) thank you to the writers of this job-advert – you make me happy every time I see it come past, and I hope you will end up hiring the fantastic colleague (of either gender!) you clearly deserve! 2) I wondered what other people on this blog thought – does it make you feel similar, or am I being naive? and if you feel similar, is this something to remember or promote?

p.s. I did not post the full ad or the institution, as I don’t know if that is appropriate. I could put in a link to the advert in comments if that is judged appropriate or is requested.


4 thoughts on “How to advertise to women

  1. 1) I tend to switch between “she or he” and “he or she” more or less randomly, I think. At least, I use both, but don’t put much thought into which unless the order is important somehow (that is, I had characters in an example where the order mattered or something.)

    2) Do you prefer this to “The applicant will have a Ph.D…”? In some ways I like the “applicant” approach more, though I’ll admit that it’s not the smoothest sounding to my ears.

  2. I read this advertisement and the wording does call for some warmth and fuzziness, but will the folks at Edinburgh really want to hire a woman? (the add is from them if I’m not mistaken). In their centre of Mind & Cognition, only one of the 7 faculty members is a woman. Recently, over the past years, they have hired only men for similar positions.
    Will there be any women on the shortlist, or will they actually hire a woman for this position? This seems to me a more honest indicator of woman-friendliness. I’m a whorfian at heart, but given the low representation of women in many faculties, I’m wondering if the mere use of ‘she’ will make the difference, and increase the dismal less than 20% women who are full-time faculty philosophy members.

  3. I have seen many philosophy papers use only “she,” yet fail to cite any actual women in the references. So, I am not that warm and fuzzy yet. I will be warm and fuzzy if a woman is hired.

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