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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The discussion of stale PhDsis interesting. I disagree with commenters who see this as (primarily) an issue of age discrimination. Rather, it is a kind of social-Darwinian thinking that leads to the idea that anyone who didn't get a job after a certain number of years is not as as good as someone who landed a t-t job quickly. This is unfair, given the dip in the job market that severely damaged an entire cohort of academics, but it has almost nothing to do with age discrimination, in my opinion. Needless to say, I am against writing in a job description, "PhD between 2010 and now." That being said, I would tend to look more favorably on a PhD from 2010 than one from 2003, if hiring an Assistant Professor. If you haven't had a highly successful career between 2003 and now, then why should I assume that you will turn it around now?

The freshly minted PhD (I hate that phrase, but that's what they are called) has the advantage of not having had time to screw up yet. He or she is pure promise, pure futurity.

1 comment:

profacero said...

I discriminate that way routinely, if it is discrimination, but of course not without looking at vita which is the difference, I think.

However, experience also suggests it should not be the only indicator. At the moment I am thinking evidence of not being a star, but of not having screwed up *too* badly, at least means there will be no truly unpleasant surprises. I am thinking of changing tactics to take this into account.