Philosophy Placement Data and Gender

An important post over at the APA blog, with surprising data on gender and placement, and some interesting hypotheses about the findings.

Although more men than women were placed in permanent academic positions within two years of graduation, it is estimated that women have a 0.50 unit increase in the expected log odds of finding such placement…

We have two hypotheses regarding this result that we hope to explore:

  1. Women philosophy graduates are more likely to find permanent academic placements because those women who would have been less likely to find permanent academic placement are more likely to leave the discipline before graduating than men in the same position. Here is one example of how this might occur: women are less likely to receive positive feedback or more likely to face a hostile environment than men such that less confident women are more likely to leave the field than less confident men. Women graduates are thus more confident, on average, than men graduates and confidence boosts likelihood of placement. (Thanks to “another commenter” at Daily Nous for this hypothesis.) To test this we will need attrition data that include gender. We intend to ask philosophy programs for this information in our next round of data gathering.
  2. Women philosophy graduates are more likely to find permanent academic placements because women are more likely to specialize in areas sought by hiring programs. Although our analyses accounted for first-reported area of specialization, they did not account for the area of specialization sought by the hiring program. To test whether hiring AOS helps to explain the gender effect, we intend to match our placement data to the job ads from the same time period.

Another possibility is that women philosophy graduates are more likely to find permanent academic placements because hiring programs have a preference for hiring women, all else being equal. This hypothesis has found some support in STEM fields. We do not now have plans to test this hypothesis, but could attempt in future to gather information from graduates relevant to hiring, such as publication and teaching records.

For more, go here.



Accessible Conference Design

One of the barriers to participation in academic philosophy consists in events being inaccessible. Unfortunately, a common approach to this problem is to ask would-be conference goers to announce their needs to the conference organisers in advance, who will then attempt to accommodate them. This is not optimal for various reasons. The individual has to declare that they are disabled to the conference organisers, and the onus is on the individual to do extra work to negotiate with the people in charge to make it possible for them to attend. The implication is also that the would-be participant requires others to make a special case for him or her. I’m often reminded of the system that operates at many UK railway stations, where to use the disabled toilet – which is kept locked – one must traipse around looking for someone with the key. Not only one must announce to the key-keeper that one is disabled and that one needs the toilet. One must also do all the extra moving around the station trying to find the person with the key.

A far better approach is that known as ‘Universal Design’, where the event is designed with different people’s needs in mind from the outset. Conference-goers with varying needs can then all participate on the same terms, without any of them having to do lots of extra work just to access the conference.

Of course, running a conference that meets such standards of accessibility requires some knowledge on the part of the organisers. How should one organise a conference to be as accessible as possible?

Shelley Tremain has recently addressed this issue over at Discrimination and Disadvantage, where she has published an excellent set of guidelines to help conference organisers.

The following accessibility guidelines are intended to improve access to the conference, through thinking of it as a shared space in which all should be able to participate. We are making these guidelines available now so that conference attendees can plan their papers and presentations with them in mind.

Note that there are guidelines for both presenters and for moderators. If there are any concerns that arise during conference events, please let the moderator know. Moderators will be asked to help facilitate accessibility during sessions. You may ask the moderator for assistance before, during, or after your talk. If needed they will be in touch with Jane Dryden (local conference organizer) or a designated student volunteer.

NB: These guidelines represent a starting point for thinking about access during CSWIP 2016. Please note the limits of guidelines, and be attentive to other ways of enhancing access. Access is best achieved if we think of it as a shared community project.

As the last sentence of this quote makes clear, Universal Design is an ideal end-state. People need to work together to develop ideas about accessibility, which will allow the profession to improve accessibility standards. You can read more here.

Shelley also suggests reading this article, that discusses the issue in relation to psychiatric disabilities, although it maybe doesn’t do enough to distinguish between accommodation and accessibility.

EDITED TO ADD: I strongly encourage people with questions and queries about these issues to head over to the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog, where Shelley and other bloggers there will be able to help.