On Getting a Job (and Publications!) in Philosophy

A reader (thanks TB!) directs us to a typically lively discussion that occurred over at The Philosophy Smoker at the end of April concerning Carolyn Dicey Jennings’s data on hiring in Philosophy in the past year. Dicey Jennings reports that

…overall prospects are at around 24% chance of getting any job, 17% chance of getting any tenure-track job, 6% chance of getting a ranked tenure-track job.


…one’s overall chance of getting any job (post-doc or tenure-track) coming from an NRC ranked institution may be as high as 51%, 39% for any tenure-track job, and 11% for a ranked tenure-track job.


if you are a woman from an NRC ranked department looking for a ranked job, your chances might be around 9%, whereas if you are looking for a tenure-track job in general they at are around 44%. If you are a woman from an NRC ranked school looking for a post-doc, be advised that only 15% of ranked women achieved post-docs this year (5 out of 34 ranked post-doc achievers), whether or not the post-doc was itself ranked. Because of that fact, the chance of a woman from an NRC ranked department getting a tenure-track job or post-doc is about the same as for a man from these departments: 51%.

The comment thread is worth a look too. The discussion ranges from Dicey Jennings’s methodology to differentials in publishing rates between men and women (as reported by Dicey Jennings). Our reader highlights as especially interesting the following comment:

Anonymous said…
There are a lot of things that can affect publication rates that
aren’t just straightforward discrimination by editors (though 8:24
does target an important problem for women – and, by association, men
– working in certain areas). Feeling encouraged and like one’s ideas
are worth publishing can contribute greatly to publishing rates. It is
often very hard to know oneself whether one’s ideas are worthwhile, or
just “obvious”. I can really only speak from my own point of view on
this, but this means I end up publishing only things that seem really
clearly worthwhile to me (although I’m not a perfect judge of such
things). Which means I pass up on publishing things that are probably
publishable somewhere, which would up my publication rate…but that I
don’t think would make me a better candidate.

As our reader points out, the above comment is especially timely “in light of the one year anniversary of the APA [Mentoring Project] , which was focused on supporting increasing publications.”

4 thoughts on “On Getting a Job (and Publications!) in Philosophy

  1. But how many philosophy students actually plan to get a job in philosophy?

    I realistically don’t. I am studying it for fun (http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/what-to-do-with-philosophy/). At a recent philosophy conference at the Open University, I had the impression that at least half of the students were at the end of their professional lives and were just studying for themselves.

    I have a hunch that philosophy attracts more people like this than say dental medicine.

  2. Fair enough. Not all new Ph.D.s are job seekers. And, to further confound things, not all job seekers are recent Ph.D.s. Some already hold tenure track positions elsewhere. So, the Ph.D. pipeline data on its own doesn’t tell the whole story.

  3. While it’s true that not all Ph.D.s in Philosophy are job seekers, I think it’s fair to assume that the vast majority of them either a.) are; or b.) are not job seekers for reasons other than not wanting a job in philosophy (i.e. they’ve concluded that the job market is too difficult or that their chances of getting a job are too low to make the job hunt worthwhile).

    I suspect that the percentage who are doing it for fun or personal fulfillment is extremely low.

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