Younger faculty hiring preferences

SLForsburg susan_forsburg at
Wed Apr 5 13:35:01 EST 1995

an8793 at wrote:
> I am raising two separate issues here - what I have noticed to be a
> preference for younger candidates against more senior ones, even though by
> "senior" I am talking about people at the asst/assoc professor cusp, and
> the failure of affirmative action to work in reality.
>  Equal opportunity laws address equality of skills, but hiring
> decisions, particularly in academic, where tenure is involved, are
> generally not based on qualifications per se. 
I can't speak to the specific situation that this writer describes, 
obviously.  But I can give a few thoughts about the process. 

Faculty hiring *is* very subjective, because no one has exactly the 
same experience, or research area, or style of interaction.  As well
as the more quantifiable information....what the candidate looks 
like on paper (pedigree, publications,  grant support, etc)...there is 
also a large grey area where one is 
unavoidably comparing apples to oranges.  For example, does the
 department really want another signal transduction
person, or can they really afford that mouse geneticist?  
Is the candidate going to be a space hog? is the candidate 
interested in contributing to the community?  What sort of 
colleague is this person likely to 
be....will s/he interact with the other faculty in a positive way?

It's thus worth remembering that there are valid subjective
differences that may be the basis for hiring decisions.  Of course, 
this sort of greyness can cloak  unpleasant prejudices, but   
I'm not sure how one can ensure that there are none, given a
 subjective system.  ideas, anyone?


susan_forsburg at

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