The Job Candidate Mentoring Program for Women in Philosophy matches job candidates with junior faculty mentors who have recently been on the market. The program provides mentoring and peer support to women candidates during their job search through videoconferencing and online forums. Visit this page for more information about how to get involved.
Why start this program?
The academic job market is a hard road to travel, but for women there are unique challenges. Women pursuing a tenure-track appointment in philosophy may face a variety of sexist biases and concerns — conscious and unconscious — that may work against their success. Therefore women may benefit from talking with junior faculty who can counsel and support them throughout this process. Unfortunately, many candidates lack access to women mentors at the junior level. Our program exists to address this problem, thereby seeking to improve the quality and quantity of support for women on the philosophy job market. Our mentorship program matches candidates with junior faculty peers who are likely to have faced similar challenges and are equipped to provide advice on the application process as well as interview and on-campus visit preparation.
Why is the focus on women?
Women are underrepresented in philosophy. Women job candidates face unique pressures and challenges due to sexist attitudes, prejudices, and assumptions that may work against them. Although women candidates already receive advice and support from faculty in their departments (though the quality of this support varies widely across programs), this support is typically geared towards job candidates in general, and therefore is often blind to the complexity of the challenges women on the job market face. These challenges include, but are certainly not limited to, the following issues: concerns and questions women face regarding their reproductive choices and corresponding assumptions about how those choices will impact future career success; concerns and questions about marital status; concerns about what constitutes appropriate attire and appearance for a “serious” woman candidate, concerns about a woman’s perspective, including concerns about whether she is a “feminist,” and so on. Women also face unique challenges as negotiators for salary and benefits: in fact, studies show that women are disadvantaged in negotiating situations and may need to negotiate differently from men. Finally, women also face the threat of sexual harassment. Thus there is a need for access to mentors who have recently been through the job market process and are in a position to share their strategies and advice, as well as to provide moral support.
What are the goals of the program?
The purpose of the program is to provide one form of support to women candidates on the job market. It is focused on helping women develop confidence and resilience as they undergo the pressures of being on the market. Since candidates already receive advice and support from faculty in their departments, this program has a particular kind of support in mind. This is the kind of support that can come from women peers and mentors who have very recently had a similar experience. The program has several elements:
— It connects candidates with others in their equivalent positions at other schools.
— It provides candidates with a “junior mentor” from an outside department, someone who has relatively recently been in their position. Having distance from the candidate’s home department will allow for a mentoring relationship that complements the candidate’s own departmental relationships, and it may even help the candidate better handle and leverage those relationships.
— It provides a structured process for interaction between candidates and mentors such that candidates feel they are connected to a wider network of women who, on the one hand, have been successful in philosophy, but on the other hand, are not so far out ahead that their success seems unattainable.