Reflections on Admission

When it comes to admissions, philosophy has a bit of a problem. By this, I mean that in hiring we have a tendency to hire white men and to not even have a single woman as a final candidate. How does hiring relate to admissions? Quite a lot.

In the first place the same tendencies that crop up in hiring appear when we try to admit people into our programs. Even though professors are aware of the tendency of our discipline to admit certain demographics (i.e., usually straight, white, and cisgender) we continue to fail in many instances to admit diverse groups of students. In the second place, the students who are willing to come into a space may need a space where there are people like them in positions of power and authority or where such representation would contribute to a better dynamic of support and conversations about how to navigate the discipline as a member of x identity. I don’t want to be read as saying “all people with x identity will need/want to work with a faculty member of x identity”. What I am saying is that the representation may still matter, even implicitly, and that the option of having a conversation with someone who may, plausibly, know some of the struggle you may face is an important one.

What is done to address this? In some spaces, departments intentionally furnish offers to 50% men and 50% women at least initially. When hiring, some departments will make sure that women are the final candidates. But that seems to be the few instances of intentional and carried out initiatives for inclusion.

I don’t know what the department here does, and I shouldn’t be read as making any claims about how they do admissions since I don’t know! But overall the discipline has a problem. Some institutions admit based on area, some institutions may furnish funded and unfunded offers and by chance none of the funded offers went to women even though technically offers were furnished to women, some may have a tendency towards admitting people who did undergraduate at Ivy institutions.

Is there a way to fix this? Is it the same for other disciplines? I don’t know. But I don’t think anyone benefits from ignoring the problems we have in attracting people to our programs, admitting them, and ultimately keeping them.

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