Sciencewomen

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgRemember the post on “Negotiating Beer with the Guys on a Job Interview“? from back in August. We had a lively discussion in the comment thread on the way a teetotaler interviewee could handle an interview schedule that included “throwing a few back” in a tailgate reception.

Today, a new comment popped up in the thread. And it’s from the chair of the search committee…. For your ease, I’ve reprinted it below.

Hello all,

This message is coming to you from the chair of the search committee. That’s right, somehow the internet, including blogs like this one, gets to institutions like mine. It has been, well, eye-opening to watch this discussion from the sideline, but now that the search is resolved (we hired a woman, by the way), I’ll add a few comments for anyone who is still out there following the thread.

Sorry, but I’m not writing to get into a game of he said/she said for the blogosphere to judge. I’m just going to offer some advice to anyone in the faculty job market, with my comments inspired by this thread. I thought these were obvious points, but apparently they aren’t.

1. The interview is not about you. It is about the combination of you and the job. The department with the opening has needs to fill, and they will offer interviews and ultimately the job based on filling those needs. It may well be that you would rather work in another unit, especially at a large research institution. For a standard assistant professor position, the interview is not a chance for you to build your own position. If you aren’t interested in the position as advertised, don’t apply. Expect your interview to be spent with the people relevant to the position, even if you would rather talk shop with people across campus. Certainly you should get a feel for potential collaboration across units. See if people from other units are involved in the search (as they were in our case). See if there are invitations to other units to the seminar and (gasp) informal parts of the interview. Stay beyond the formal interview to visit the other units (as both of our other candidates did). But don’t expect to be able to dictate what you’ll be doing for the formal part of the interview.

2. Do your homework. It wouldn’t take much to see that the redneck credentials so eloquently described in the blog are actually pretty thin. More generally, reconstructing the faculty history of a department will give you an idea of where it came from and where it is going.

3. Learn how to politely decline an unwanted drink. If you didn’t manage to achieve this level of social sophistication by the time you were 19, practice in front of a mirror. Unless you are interviewing for a job in Saudi Arabia or perhaps at BYU, you will probably be offered a drink by your friendly hosts. You probably shouldn’t assume that the drink offer means that everyone else will be soon be passed out in the bushes.

4. It probably isn’t a good idea to blog in real time while you are involved in a job search. This is especially true if you tend to reveal your insecurities, prejudice, and dishonesty.

In some ways, I’d say this tale has a happy ending. Our reader decided she wasn’t interested in the job, the search concluded successfully with another candidate, and the rest of us are reminded that “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” but they can put 2 and 2 together pretty quickly when enough details of field, geography, and timing are out in the open.

On the other hand, in my opinion, there are still some issues to be sorted out on this topic and some lingering resentment on the part of both parties. For example, our search chair decries our reader’s “dishonesty.” Now I’m not party to the actual conversations they had, but from her account, she made it pretty plain that was uncomfortable with the tailgating and got no giveback from her host. Where’s the dishonesty in that?

Then there’s the larger issue of whether search committee’s have any responsibility to make things physically or socially more comfortable for interviewees. The search chair implies that this is not the case, even as far as helping a candidate figure out potential facilities and collaborations across campus. (Why wouldn’t you accommodate that? It seems to me that if you hired the person, you’d want them to have the best possible chance to ensure their success, and that introductory meetings and facilities tours would be a great place to start that off. Couldn’t the search chair have “extended” the interview by a day to allow time in the schedule and helped make the arrangements?)

Please note that my musing are not an attempt to get in the middle of a dogfight between a particular candidate and a particular department, rather some musings to ponder as I proceed with our department’s search. What are your thoughts?

Comments

  1. #1 anon4this
    December 10, 2008

    Quite the self-righteous tone in the Chair’s response… from that I’m guessing that he/they are feeling not a little defensive about the original issue mentioned, and indignant that someone was bothered by their approach and that they aired their views all over the internet.

    My only sympathy here is actually with the privacy issue… the Chair is correct that open-airing on the internet can be damaging and hurtful depending on how delicately topics like these are approached. And clearly he/they were hurt by this. That being said, he then goes on to add fuel to the fire, by refusing to take the high road and by name-calling the former candidate in question as well as lecturing the readers of this blog. That and his patronizing, wounded tone comes off undermining his own position and it tends to lend support to the idea that the candidate’s second-thoughts were legitimate.

    As for the supposed issue in question, regarding social atmosphere and alcohol at a job search: clearly the institution thinks it is innocuous while at least one candidate felt it wasn’t… so regardless of how they want to perceive it, the fact remains that they still alienated at least one person out of the gate. As for alcohol… I’m sorry but everyone knows how to turn down a drink, but not everyone knows how to deal with a social event that appears to be specifically oriented in a particular way around alcohol. And the larger issue here is professionalism: is “have a few beers, shoot the breeze, throw a few back” ever professional in this context? Doubtful.

    The Chair/institute should take this as an opportunity to re-examine their work culture and determine if everyone there is really on the same page… rather than continuing the slings and arrows on the internet with a reply that really adds nothing to the original discussion and casts doubt on the infallibility of their own position.

  2. #2 Propter Doc
    December 10, 2008

    I think making arrangements such as visits to other units at the time of interview would be complex and could lead to unfair practice if one candidate had a far wider fit than the other. I think that is best left to a ‘courtship-post offer’ visit.

    I agree with the deparment chair that people who don’t want to drink should have figured out how to convey that, but I also believe that this approach requires the hosts to be tactful and respectful of that choice. So its about give and take.
    I do wonder however, how does the original reader feel seeing this response? Perhaps it is a reminder of how we need to be far more cautious of what we write and permit to be posted online, especially when this was a very specific and easily identified event. And perhaps that would be a good way to slide into a discussion about keeping one’s online persona in order…especially during the job search.

  3. #3 george.w
    December 10, 2008

    Wow, Bubba SearchChair really seems bothered by the fact that an interviewee might ask friends on the Internet for advice on handling the unprofessional tone of the interview process.

    Sure, some people can decline a drink more easily than others. Not everyone is as smooth as he apparently imagines himself to be. What that has to do with their research, is anybody’s guess.

  4. #4 phagenista
    December 10, 2008

    A friend of mine in the humanities was on the job market a couple of years ago, and he happened to apply for some of the same positions as someone who was anonymously blogging about her search for Chronicle of Higher Education. Once he figured that out, he had incredible inside knowledge about how one of his ‘competitors’ was faring at different interviews, and could assess which trips went better for him than her. The sad fact of anonymous blogging is that we always reveal enough for /someone/ to recognize the geographic/conversational cues… and the job market is a much smaller universe, so it’s much easier to make educated guesses.

  5. #5 Academic
    December 10, 2008

    I think a search committee ought to be candid with the people coming to campus to interview and vice versa. If someone (from either side of the table) thinks that connections across units may be helpful to explore, then he or she should begin a conversation. Interviewees need to do their homework; I am continually surprised by how my friends describe the homework they did on certain schools, departments, and people. Personally, I think the interviewee’s question that sparked the original post came from a place where she had tried to resolve it with the search committee but was getting nowhere so she asked for help. Asking for assistance with handling a job search, especially around issues not directly connected to an academic’s job description, seems like a natural thing to do.

  6. #6 Comrade PhysioProf
    December 10, 2008

    What a motherfucking asshole! I’ll have more to say when I have some time to further analyze the assholishness.

  7. #7 Alex
    December 10, 2008

    Propert Doc said:
    I think making arrangements such as visits to other units at the time of interview would be complex and could lead to unfair practice if one candidate had a far wider fit than the other. I think that is best left to a ‘courtship-post offer’ visit.

    I have to agree with Propter Doc and the search committee chair: If the department is voting on the hiring decision, then it is important that all of the candidates do visits with as many of the same people as possible. In my interview, I had a chance to sit down in 30 minute one-on-one chats with nearly everybody in the department. The department as a whole then voted on whom to hire. If I had shifted some of those time slots to meetings in other departments, it would have put me at a serious disadvantage. Of course, people from other departments did attend my seminar and chat during informal parts of the visit, and when the offer was extended and I was making my decision I spent a lot of time on the phone with potential collaborators in other departments. Indeed, I noticed that my department went to considerable lengths to standardize the interview process and even the questions asked during certain parts of the interview. That was a good practice that made the process fairer for everyone involved. If a candidate hadn’t spent time largely the same people that other candidates met, one might have a credible argument that the candidate was treated unfairly.

    Moreover, during all of my interviews there were last minute schedule changes. Given that, I can see why a department might be reluctant to work in visits to off-campus research facilities, and instead prefer to invite members of those facilities to attend social gatherings during the interview.

    Finally, everybody is accusing the search chair of being a jerk, but there isn’t a peep about the candidate who apparently made a lot of assumptions about people that she didn’t know based largely on stereotypes. There are a variety of lessons to be learned in this, lessons for all parties, and I would expect people concerned about fairness and diversity to at least give some notice to the stereotype-laden way that the candidate assessed some strangers.

  8. #8 Female Engineering Professor
    December 10, 2008

    It’s one thing to seek out advice online. It’s another thing to go off on an immature stereotype-laden rant online. Especially when you’re in a job search.

    And your maturity and social graces may have nothing to do with your research skills, but they can affect your ability to work with colleagues, manage students/postdocs, and thrive in your research community. Collegiality can be huge in some departments.

    I’m not sure why the search chair felt the need to go off on his own rant, but I’m happy to have a little closure. I often find myself wondering about various random threads on these blogs. Just the other day I was wondering if ScienceWoman ever got blinds or curtains in her office.

  9. #9 Professor in Training
    December 10, 2008

    If my memory serves me correctly (and let’s face it, there’s every chance it’s failing miserably tonight), the candidate’s question was a relatively simple one and, given the wording about the drinks shindig from the committee and her previous experience experiences, she was merely concerned about the tone of the get-together. He (I’m assuming it was a guy) didn’t address the issue of whether it was appropriate to organize a social function during a campus interview where beers would be “thrown back”. It sounds like the search chair has gotten his nose out of joint more by the ensuing discussion than by the initial question. The question was asked anonymously and with no identification of the school involved so what’s the problem?

  10. #10 River Tam
    December 10, 2008

    I agree with Propter Doc and Alex. There are all sorts concerns about making interviews as similar and fair as possible for all candidates to be judged equally. At my institution we have to set up schedules to be as identical as possible. If one candidate has to catch a plane before dinner the last night, then we cannot have dinner with any of the candidates, even if they are staying that night.

  11. #11 Cherish
    December 10, 2008

    First, I have seen interviews done where a major selling point for the candidate was interdisciplinary research. If a candidate looks like a good deal for the department, it would make sense that there’s some give and take on the interview or the opportunity for an extended interview. If someone is doing interdisciplinary research, the candidate needs to know that the facilities are in place for them to move forward. Denying them the opportunity is basically going to turn any candidate off who is working in a collaborative discipline. (Of course, if you’re at a university where you can pick the cream-of-the-crop candidates, perhaps this doesn’t apply.)

    Second, the OP was obviously very concerned about a “tailgating party” on her itinerary and wasn’t sure who else to ask after trying to “get out of it”. She didn’t blog it, she sent an email which, in turn, was posted publicly for some feedback from the other readers. I think trying to get advice was good, but it’s also important for the rest of us to know what potential pitfalls we may face in the interview process and get ideas for how to work around them. Personally, I’d be pretty uncomfortable with a “tailgating party” as well. Maybe if it had been pitched differently: BBQ, picnic, potluck…all of those things incorporate a social element to them without the emphasis being on drinking. I think the department chose to represent themselves very poorly (i.e. if they don’t want to look like a bunch of rednecks, I wouldn’t be putting tailgating on the agenda in the future). The interview process is undoubtedly very stressful without making someone feel insecure about an aversion to alcohol or uncomfortable social rituals. The point was made, pretty explicitly, that alcohol, like family and kids, can have an impact on people’s perception of an interviewee. They shouldn’t be put in that position unnecessarily.

    It is about the combination of you and the job. The department with the opening has needs to fill, and they will offer interviews and ultimately the job based on filling those needs.

    Actually, Prof. Search Committee makes it sound like it’s about the department and not about the interviewee at all.

    I’m sure there was a lot of stuff going back and forth, but I have to agree that the committee chair did a pretty bad job of representing his side of the story. In fact, I did have doubts before, but the condescension expressed in the response was enough to make me think that the OP definitely had some valid points.

  12. #12 Alex
    December 10, 2008

    It does make sense to leave equal time for each candidate to visit relevant people in other departments, especially on an interdisciplinary search. Even then, it depends on how the position is specified: If they’re recruiting for a particular interdisciplinary field, there’s probably a core group of people in multiple departments whom all of the candidates would want to talk to, and you could treat all of the candidates the same while having them talk to all of these people in different departments. OTOH, if there isn’t a common group of relevant people from outside the department for all of the candidates to talk to, and not all of the candidates would have much to discuss with other departments, then depending on how strict the school’s rules are it may not be possible to have some candidates go to a lot of meetings outside the department while other candidates stay in the department.

    Also, keep in mind that in the original post the job seeker was asking to go to an off-campus site. If none of the other candidates would have a reason to go to that site, and if the scheduling was tight, then I think it made sense to instead offer to invite the potential collaborators to the seminar and department social hour.

    Finally, regarding alcohol: At the risk of beating the topic to death yet again, while I agree that it’s probably better to leave alcohol out of interviews, I wonder if the people characterizing it as a drinking-oriented event would have the same response to a wine-and-cheese social. Or (if your school has agriculture and restaurant management departments, as mine does) a reception at a test kitchen that features hors d’oeuvres from campus ingredients and beer brewed on campus from campus-grown barley and sold at the student-run restaurant. Let’s not let cultural and class snobbery color this.

  13. #13 Cherish
    December 11, 2008

    Alex,

    I’m not sure that calling something a potluck is coloring something with cultural and class snobbery. ;-) Although I imagine you were responding to this point in general, I was attempting to make the point that the perception was very much in the name that was given to the event. “Tailgating” brings to mind obnoxious football fans who have had too much to drink…and for whom drinking is the main impetus. I personally wouldn’t drink at any sort of social, but I would probably feel more comfortable at a social gathering in which alcohol was incidental (whether it be wine and cheese or a BBQ complete with spit-roasted pig and a keg of beer) than “tailgating”.

  14. #14 Dawn
    December 11, 2008

    Actually for me, the word “potluck” conjures up images of a 1950s style church gathering, so yes, I’d say that it is still a word colored with cultural and class differences.

    I would also be interested to hear what “Are” (the OP) has to say in response…

  15. #15 anon
    December 11, 2008

    There are a number of reasons medical, religious and personal that would make it impossible for someone to drink alcohol. Since these represent protected categories, I think a department that wants to avoid lawsuits would be wise to limit the consumption of alcohol as part of official interviews. Three of the last five candidates that interviewed with us declined to drink alcohol even when it was made available to them and I applauded them for that. Why take chances that you might slip up because of a combination of fatigue, nervousness and high altitude?

  16. #16 James Annan
    December 11, 2008

    Sciencewoman,

    IMO it is very underhand of you to post that comment without including the context of what the applicant Are had written in her last couple of comments. I’m glad I went back and read the previous few comments on that old post, or I would have got a very bad impression of the search chair. I suggest everyone else does the same before coming down like a ton of bricks on them.

  17. #17 Propter Doc
    December 11, 2008

    @James – yes indeed, the last comment by the applicant Are casts a very different light on the comments made by the search chair and is a prime example of what not to do in a blog post/comments thread/forum if you are seeking advice or job searching. It is a very tactless and inappropriate rant directed at people that Are never met.

  18. #18 amo
    December 11, 2008

    Yikes on the last comments by Are. I’m still a bit mystified about what the big deal is/was with this whole tailgate thing. So you don’t drink, so what. In my experience (which I’m now thinking may be unusual), not drinking is not a big deal. I would welcome the opportunity to have a chance to interact with potential colleagues in a more casual setting. Even better yet, to see how they interact with one another. These are people who, for better or worse, you would be spending a good portion of the rest of your life working with or in close proximity to.
    I’m just in the post doc stage of the game, but I’ve been told that in the interview process you want the department to want you and then you make your demands, etc. after you’ve been offered the job, when they want you to want them.
    Overall, though, it certainly seems as if things have worked out for the best in this situation.

  19. #19 Cherish
    December 11, 2008

    Actually for me, the word “potluck” conjures up images of a 1950s style church gathering, so yes, I’d say that it is still a word colored with cultural and class differences.

    Perhaps this is a regional thing, but every department I’ve been in with one exception generally has a departmental potluck at some point throughout the year…and usually more than one. (When I was doing my undergrad, this was a great thing as I usually got several free meals around the holidays since I was wandering around 3-4 departments on a regular basis.)

    It is, however, not “snobbery” to have a potluck (or a BBQ), and there’s nothing that says you can’t have alcohol at such an event. It’s probably in the same “class” as a tailgating party, but doesn’t conjure up such a negative reaction in most people. Maybe if you associate it with a church, perhaps. At least at church, the worst you can expect is a plethora of silver-haired grannies trying to shove more cookies down your throat…which, in my experience, is generally not a situation to which I’m averse (unless there are cranberries in the cookies.
    :-)

  20. #20 hammy
    December 11, 2008

    Everyone needs to go read Are’s last few posts on the last site.

    She was incredibly insulting to the Dept in question— basically accusing them of extreme sexism, and generally saying nasty things about them. I’m not surprised that the response isn’t especially polite, but it is nice to hear a little about the thought process from the other side.

    The dept chair is right— you should know how to handle refusing a beer. If that’s what happens around this dept, any potential hire is going to have to deal with it in the future. Duh.

  21. #21 Anonymous
    December 11, 2008

    This post, combined with the comments from Dave at drugmonkey about only inviting speakers who are “fun,” really got to me. I have been one of those teetotaler job candidates (though not this one). I’ve never had a problem cheerfully saying “no thanks” to friendly hosts. But that’s not what we are talking about. We’re talking about events that are completely centered on alcohol in which a cheerful “no thanks” doesn’t cut it and in fact makes you look like a crank. Tailgating? What planet is the chair on that he thinks this is appropriate? Has there ever been a tailgating party in which the object is not to get drunk? Ever? And what if your candidate is muslim or mormon? What if your candidate is pregnant? We should be trying to hire people (and invite speakers) who are excellent scientists, and not to surround ourselves with people we like to hang out with. You may be alienating (or even discriminating) against your best candidates.

  22. #22 D
    December 11, 2008

    Perhaps I attended the wrong schools, generally smaller and more focused, but I have been to many tailgate and other parties and managed not to get drunk. In fact, I have been to many tailgate parties where no one got drunk. This isn’t to defend tailgate parties as an interviewing modality but it is to point out the inherent bias and prejudice in that assumption.

    The search committee chair never said it was a tailgater. That was from Are. And, since she didn’t go to the interview we don’t know what it “really” was. As others pointed out already she was incredibly insulting in her last post. That is what the search committee chair was responding to.

  23. #23 Cherish
    December 11, 2008

    The search committee chair never said it was a tailgater.

    She said that it was written on her itinerary as such.

  24. #24 Alex
    December 11, 2008

    As long as we’re talking about cultural associations, when I hear the word “tailgater” I assume that they’ll be serving chips and some grilled meat in addition to beer–not a “drinking focused” event. Of course, I’m not from the south, so I don’t know what tailgater means there, but where I’m from it isn’t solely a drinking event. To me, it would be analogous to “wine and cheese”, containing a food element, an alcoholic element, and a significant social element. Everybody is assuming that this sort of event is so much more drinking-focused and threatening than “wine and cheese”, even though “wine and cheese” has an alcoholic beverage in the name of the event.

    And I echo the urging to read Are’s final comments in that thread. She insulted the department quite a bit, and indicated that she would not go to the interview unless she got to dictate the schedule. That puts the chair’s responses in context.

  25. #25 D
    December 11, 2008

    She said

    “have a few beers, shoot the breeze, throw a few back” in the tailgate area behind the building that houses the department.”

    Now, that could mean it was a tailgater. Or it could mean they wanted to have an outdoor reception in the parking lot behind the building. I don’t know which and neither does she.

    There is a difference between sitting in the bed of a pickup truck in a parking lot and having a kegger and having an organized reception in a parking lot with beer, wine and soda.

  26. #26 D
    December 11, 2008

    …and if you are lucky maybe some southern fried goodies to go with it…

  27. #27 Becca
    December 11, 2008

    It’s probably in the same “class” as a tailgating party, but doesn’t conjure up such a negative reaction in “Cherish.
    There. Now it’s accurate.

    It’s so funny to see what people’s ideas of different events are like based on just the term used!
    For example, if a school invited me to a “BBQ” I would gladly go to talk with people, but probably not expect to enjoy it. I’m a vegetarian. If they invited me to a “pigroast” I might run the other way!
    On the other hand, “tailgating”, to me, does not imply “obnoxious football fans” so much “social group where the goal is to let everyone party even when not everyone can afford tickets (or would want) to attend the game”.
    “Tailgating? What planet is the chair on that he thinks this is appropriate? Has there ever been a tailgating party in which the object is not to get drunk? Ever? And what if your candidate is muslim or mormon? What if your candidate is pregnant?”
    You’re not from Penn State are you? Football is the banner under which some tribes unite; shockingly, not everybody is actually interested in it in any serious way (but lots of people who had no interest in it before coming here learn to talk enough about it so that they have a ‘safe’ topic for smalltalk- that’s a social function in and of itself). I’d be totally unsuprised to see a pregnant muslim show up to a grad student tailgating event. Plenty of people go to get drunk, I’m sure, but it’s not like getting blitzed out of your mind is a requirement from what I know of them.

    “potluck”, for me, = “potlatch”. Clearly, it has totally skewed classist connotations… the richest woman is the one who gives the most away!

    On the other hand, anyone know how I can get an invite to a university with a culinary school and microbrews? Cause that sounds *awesome*.

    Does the best thing to call a social event depends entirely on the department? Or entirely on the inteviewee?

    Is there any term that would make everyone go “hey,these sound like my kind of people”?

    As a more practical goal, is there even one term that would at least make the vast majority of people think “well, I’ll be glad to go be social (even if it doesn’t sound like my kind of event)”?

  28. #28 D
    December 11, 2008

    How about “dessert-a-palooza”

  29. #29 Female Engineering Professor
    December 11, 2008

    We should be trying to hire people (and invite speakers) who are excellent scientists, and not to surround ourselves with people we like to hang out with.

    IMO that’s a bit naive. If I’m going to work with someone for potentially the next thirty years, I’m not going to offer the job to someone who will be hostile and hard to work with. Even if their science (or in my case engineering) is awesome. It’s not worth the hassle. (But then I work in a highly collaborative department.)

    I’m not trying to support the Dave-based flirty and fun argument here. But lots of department interviews have a meet-n-greet social time. Call it whatever you want – tailgater/potluck/dinner/lunch/reception/tea/coffeeklatch – you’re expected to show up, act appropriately, and chat professionally with potential colleagues.

    An interview guide from UIUC that I found very useful can be found here. You’ll note that the author advises “Do not drink alcoholic beverages while you are there, even if everyone else does.”

  30. #30 Alex
    December 11, 2008

    Female Engineering Professor-

    Agreeing with what you said, not only should the department get to see what a candidate is like in informal discussions, it might be useful for a candidate to see what potential colleagues are like in those settings. *Especially* if one is concerned about hostile environments.

    On the other hand, anyone know how I can get an invite to a university with a culinary school and microbrews? Cause that sounds *awesome*.

    Unfortunately, Becca, my school doesn’t take full advantage of the synergies between the campus farm, farm store, and culinary school. In a better budget year, I’d push them to have the reception part of an interview catered by the culinary school and hosted on one of the nicer terraces. Alas, right now our seminars are held in a classroom (windowless!) with store-bought cookies served beforehand.

    FWIW, the culinary school’s beer and wine class is one of the most popular electives on campus, and faculty have the option of taking classes for free. So hopefully this place will have a better budget soon and advertise a job in your field.

  31. #31 volcanista
    December 11, 2008

    Wow, I missed the first post, and both of these are good discussions. And excellent warnings against airing too much on the internet.

    I’ve been in very-drinky and less-drinky departments, and every interview I’ve been to over the years has involved drinking. I’ve also been taken to department wine-tastings, which are much harder to stand at and not drink than a tailgate party. (That was pretty awkward. I drink a little, but not usually a lot. In that case, I caved and just drank, because the pressure was high – but in the future I probably wouldn’t do that.)

    But in general, fwiw, I have both drank and declined drinking at department events, including interviews, and nobody has ever so much as blinked when I declined. I could definitely see a beer reception being held during an interview on some campuses (and this doesn’t sound like a tailgate – more a casual beer-club-type reception in the location where they also have tailgates), and I would hope that someone could just decline to drink a beer and still chat with people and they wouldn’t say anything. Or really care.

    It’s an interesting question, how much of this common drinking work culture is gendered and how much is perhaps not. Maybe in general it hasn’t been for me because I’ve been in departments where women have become regulars at what used to be more gendered activities. I’ll keep it in mind for the future, though, and try to be conscious of the issue.

  32. #32 Cherish
    December 11, 2008

    The impression I got was that beer was the only thing going to be served at said event because Are kept talking about drinking on an empty stomach and how they’d be going out to eat later. If that was true, I would definitely have been worried myself. In a situation like that, the social pressure to drink is much stronger.

    You know, maybe everyone could just avoid this if the itineraries said things like, “Reception” or “Social Gathering” with a note including what items will be available for consumption. It would behoove departments to try to use neutral language (as difficult as it may be to find some!) because it can and does affect a person’s perception even before they get there.

    As far as Are’s response later, we don’t know what happened in between. My sense from these things is that sometimes one thing will rub a person the wrong way and that it propagates and gets worse during the process of interacting. She did say some inappropriate things toward the end of the discussion, but it also sounds like the department may not have been trying to address her concerns adequately. For instance, they said the other candidates stayed beyond the formal interview. Did they make her aware that was even an option? There are a lot of unknowns, but the initial impression, at least, was that the department wasn’t willing to compromise on anything, including a situation which would have made a lot of people feel uncomfortable. What she said later was not professional, but neither were the chair’s statements. Tit-for-tat I guess.

  33. #33 TomJoe
    December 11, 2008

    I’ve seen a lot of these “informal” situations on my past job interviews. It’s INTEGRAL that you ATTEND and INTERACT. No, you don’t go around being a lush, or passing out (or pissing) in the bushes, but you strike up, and have intelligent conversations and you behave. A good performance at these functions can almost assure that you’ll get the job. If everything else is equal, people are going to go with the individual they best “connected” with. That implies that you actually show them that you have a personality and can be personable. It also shows that you’re a confident individual, you display a wide range of knowledge on a number of topics (i.e., you can carry a conversation and BE interesting), you have great communication skills, and you can actually interact with other individuals. All these skills are/can be important traits for a scientist in today’s world.

    DO NOT, FOR ONE SECOND, think this is just an excuse to have a beer or two. If you think that, you don’t deserve a job. If you can’t act acceptably in these situations, you don’t deserve a job. If you think these things are a waste of time, you don’t deserve a job. My two cents, keep the change.

  34. #34 Alex
    December 11, 2008

    We certainly don’t know exactly what was or wasn’t said to Are. What we do know is that (1) the other job candidates did somehow get to extend their schedules to meet with people outside the department, (2) the committee encouraged Are to invite potential collaborators to a department function, (3) the committee hired a woman in spite of the sexism allegations made, and (4) Are clearly made many demands for how the interview should be arranged and made many stereotypical assumptions about people that she hadn’t yet met.

    Given all that, I give more benefit of the doubt to the search committee. Whatever they may or may not have said in what level of detail at what point, their actions speak at least somewhat favorably, while Are’s own words paint her pretty poorly.

  35. #35 Lora
    December 11, 2008

    Thoughts for search committees:

    The very best candidates you interview have multiple opportunities, yes, even in this economy. Something to bear in mind, then, is that while you are interviewing us, we are also interviewing you. Of course, the best candidates will also be gracious about declining the offer of a lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon in a parking lot, but suffice it to say that this is not the, uh, level of professionalism we expect from potential employers. If you feel you should have a business-y social type of event as an interview component, a meal at a nice sit-down restaurant with cloth napkins is a better option. And yeah, I thought these were obvious points, but apparently they aren’t.

    Just sayin’. I have dealbreakers for interviews. It starts with “lousy cheap bastard of a tipper” and ends somewhere around “my reproductive status is none of your business, thanks for asking.” It’s much better when search committees have their interviews scheduled, directed, and largely supervised by HR professionals, who will brief the interviewers on appropriate behavior and questions.

    I leave it up to the search committees to decide if they are really getting the very best candidates they can attract. Doesn’t that just guarantee that the department will get the hire who has the highest BS tolerance? OTOH, maybe that’s exactly the sort of candidate they are looking for, so…

    I agree that Are’s comments could have been more gracious, though. Think more like, you’re the queen of England and someone has just presented you with a particularly disgusting gift. Smile and say, “How very thoughtful of you…”

  36. #36 Are
    December 11, 2008

    Welcome to the blog Bubbalicious. Let’s go through your points since you seem to have a chip on your ego after all these months.

    Point 1: you are CORRECT. The interview was absolutely not about me. I told you that you left me out of my interview. I pointed out that you keep hiring males (and inbreeding) because you found an interview process which appeals to YOU and your Buds. I tried to “spend time with the people relevant to the position” – remember, predawn? And I love how beer is a “formal part of the interview.” Nice way to keep the boyz happy, especially through this hard interviewing formal stuff (gasp, swig). And the interview was absolutely about YOU. Who is the best fit for YOU. And when I told you about my food allergies, you were more concerned that YOU could find something to eat. YOU. correct.

    Point 2: FAIL. A) I asked you twice for the list of faculty I would be meeting. So, who’s prepared? Not you. B) When we talked the first time, you said something like “have we talked about this before?” uh, no. We hadn’t talked at ALL. Who’s prepared? Not you. C) Since you hadn’t gotten me the list of people, I printed out 70 pages of websites, newsletters, pub lists to take with me… who’s prepared? Me.

    Point 3: FAIL. So, let me get this right. Drinking skillz –> social sophistication. I missed that class. My education got in the way of my mirror and porcelain god. [Insert pic with mirror on toilet! graphics assist? Isis]

    Point 4: FAIL. The reason you were able to pick me out of this blog was the STRIKING RESEMBLANCE to my interview crap with you. Statements I made here are exactly the same concerns I made directly to you. To protect my, your, your dept’s, and the other applicants’ identities, some things were changed and obscured because of the risk of exposure! The intent of the post was to ask for help and think up solutions (but really, it’s YOU who need the solution to being comfy having the ass-busting ladiez around). As blog conversations go sometimes wildly offtrack, like the fact that I eat fried chicken with a knife and fork….I tried to get the conversation back ontrack and keep the discussion going, even if we are preaching to the choir while the deaf, dumb, and blind watch us bang our heads. This isn’t a datasheet… it’s a blog. My emotions are part of the deal. If I’m showing prejudice (which could be reporting what I saw in your horn-tooting newsletters? hmmm), then what’s 2 women of 27 total faculty mean? See answer below.

    Here are some doozies I left off before but hey, since they reveal the sexism and insensitivity that was blatant to me and reason for my ending of pissiness, snark, and cancelation, here goes:

    A) I pointed out my concerns about beer at faculty interviewing functions involving *undergrads*, grads, postdocs, and staff because as faculty, I would be a role model to them and would be modeling that to make it in the biz, I need to grab a beer to roll like the guys. You replied that you’ve never heard this complaint before. Thanks for the dismissal – I needed that.

    B) You also pointed out that you have been on a committee that hired a woman. Thanks for the hope – let’s stop printing those gender/diversity publications, war’s over. Mission: Accomplished.

    C) You pointed out that you had been on a committee that had a woman as chair. Thanks again – pigs do fly.

    D) I replied to you that women don’t have the privilege of speaking up (well, we do we’re damned, we don’t we’re damned). 2 women in your dept = crazy to speak up. I am not a care bears tea party kinda gal and certainly NOT the fun flirty type (Hi Dave;) ), so some women (not me) would be able to tolerate your antics – and if a 90% female dept were to invite a male interviewee to their required tea party interview-crap, maybe folks like Physio would fit right in, happy as can be with his Jameson and Funshine in tow, or maybe not. I pointed out that I was uncomfortable with a tailgate reception and your reply was that I didn’t have to attend. Got a corner I can sit in and knit while you work on your drink with the boys til 5?

    You came on here 3 months later to say “see, I’m not a sexist bastard – I hired a woman – not YOU, but see, look – I care about diversity.” Then you dissed me for blogging to ask for help. Yup, you get the gold star. Anyone got the link for sexist bingo? I have a full card, I can feel it.

    And the cherry on top of it all: in reply to my declining the interview, the dept chair (not Bozo, but his brother Darryl) wrote “good choice” – indeed it was. GREAT choice, actually.

    There are MANY ways women are kept out of the frat house (whoops, I mean Sciences!!111!1!) and Bozos flock together. gender problem? See the 150+ comments on Drugmonkey this week. I’m in the Becca fan club – Bubba’s dept is federally funded. 2 women of 27 = unacceptable. The dept should be banned from funding. PERIOD. 50% of their grad students are women (see above point about doing my homework). There’s no excuse other than crappy hiring practices and bozos running the joint to maintain status quo of mediocrity.

    Which brings me full circle to the other topic “at hand” – the million (or zillion?) dollar question is: who actually pays for the beer? Who’s responsible? Do the parents of the undergrads know their tuition money and tax dollars are being consumed during office hours? Bozo reassured me that not-that-much beer gets consumed after seminars. So that makes it ok? Got a rug – sweeeep? Or a breath test for everyone every 3 hours? And why is it SOOO difficult to be sensitive to the concerns of the minorities (minority = non-white-male = people not like Bubba)? Ooooo, oooooh – I know – it’s a pain in the ass. It’s more work, gasp (= the whiny bitchez want spechul favrs). I told Bobo that it’s the job of the majority to be inclusive of the minority. Did I ask him to do pop-a-wheelies on his tricycle? No. I asked for a level playing field. I asked for fairness. I know, I need to learn to sack up, bounce babies around, work the heels, and …shut up… like… tom… Don’t we all?

    I applied for the job because of the special facilities. I declined the trip because of insensitivity of Bubba and the fact that he sees nothing wrong with the interview process or the lack-of-diversity in the dept (and that he’s actively contributing to it – rah rah). There’s a one year time frame to file a complaint about hiring practices. Considering everyone involved is MALE, foxes –> watch henhouse. Yup, Progress.meet.Nowhere is the land Bubba can hide in – no one writes tickets. And I have hot science to do.

    There are fabulous people in Bozo’s dept and I hope The Woman Hired(TM) will do great. We all need to pray for her success and I nominate her for some Naughty Monkeys to strut around in or if she prefers boots, steel-toe would be great. And the title of Grand Assistant Saint Professor (GASP)!

    I’m done with Bubbalicious. I was done months ago. His bubble burst. And I’m tired of the clueless Bubbas and their care bears beer party interviews because newflash: the world revolves around their happy hours and rules of their frat house. No, thanks. again.

  37. #37 Azkyroth
    December 11, 2008

    4. It probably isn’t a good idea to blog in real time while you are involved in a job search. This is especially true if you tend to reveal your insecurities, prejudice, and dishonesty.

    I wonder what the odds are that the writer meets their own standards. Generally speaking, I’m guessing it’s pretty rare for an interviewer with nothing better to do than try to dig up something embarrassing an applicant wrote/did in their free time to be someone who’d get hired if their thoughts and entertainments were made public.

  38. #38 Roth
    December 12, 2008

    Poor Are. What a mockery you have made of yourself. I�m sure the department is grateful that you never visited.

  39. #39 Alex
    December 12, 2008

    Azkyroth,

    My guess is that somebody recognized this incident and word spread around and the search chair eventually learned how badly he was being smeared. Indeed, in the thread that started this there seems to be a comment from somebody other than the chair who had inside info. I don’t blame him for responding to the attacks, although I probably would have phrased some of it differently if I were in his shoes.

    Are,

    You are making yourself sound really bad right now. It is apparent that you handled this very poorly and made a lot of hasty judgments about people based on stereotypes. It may well be that the department should have done certain things differently, but your approach seems to have made things substantially worse for yourself. If the search committee learned of the blog post, it’s a good bet that this has been circulating and your comments were read by by other people. You are doing damage to your own reputation with ill-chosen words. Try to relax, step back, assess the situation, and ask yourself whether there are more effective ways to deal with similar situations in the future.

  40. #40 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Alex -
    The transition to Asst Prof for women is a critical point in the pipeline. This is an ongoing important discussion everywhere. Like I said, we’re damned if we speak up about our concerns or we’re damned if we don’t. Everyone can handle anything better. I expect to get better with age. And I appreciate what you are saying. I made the right choice. That place wasn’t a good fit for me.

    We are back to the turtlenecks at FSP. Do I take up golf or grab a beer to fit in with the hiring 90% male faculty crowd who was fine and impressed with me as a student/postdoc (because I was busy cranking out paper after paper after paper – definitely wasn’t doing any standing around) but now, I have to fit in by “formally” standing around and acting like them, with beer, golf clubs, turtlenecks? My productivity (pubs/$$$/teaching/service) gets me the interview invite. Being fun and flirty (and obliviousness to the boyz club?) is then needed to impress them to be a colleague? to fit in? The image of 90% male fac dept is that women don’t fit. Something has to give.

    This is just one discussion we need to be having. How do we target women in our interviewing practices? It’s one thing to stick them on the short list. I’ve been token female. It’s another thing to have a search chair who’s sensitive and open to the conditions of each applicant…. males too. One of my colleagues had a whopper of a time with a search committee – he was flying to the east coast from the west coast. The search booked the breakfast at 8am (5am pac) and the seminar for 10am (7am pac). I have felt soooo much more comfortable when women take the lead to host me during interviews – it’s a big difference. I hope others will comment on that.

  41. #41 Tao
    December 12, 2008

    Let’s roll tape, shall we?

    The search chair says:

    Learn how to politely decline an unwanted drink. If you didn’t manage to achieve this level of social sophistication by the time you were 19, practice in front of a mirror.

    “Are” says in response: So, let me get this right. Drinking skillz –> social sophistication. I missed that class.

    No, honey. The fact of the matter is that social sophistication requires gracefully dealing with situations that may make you slightly uncomfortable. This is called “being an adult”.

    Round #2: The social chair says, But don’t expect to be able to dictate what you’ll be doing for the formal part of the interview.

    “Are” says: I love how beer is a “formal part of the interview.”

    Are, is that what he said? Did you see that somewhere? Was part of your application process bonging beer?

    Alas, no. Again, part of being an adult is saying “No, thanks, I do not want a beer.” Wow…that was tough.

    “Are”, are you this intellectually dishonest in your work, too? Because I have seen nothing but stereotyping, out-of-context quoting and a gross deviation from civility from you from the very beginning of this.

    If this is what you are like to work with, this university is well rid of you.

  42. #42 Alex
    December 12, 2008

    Are,

    Nobody said that you have to drink, wear a turtleneck, or take up golf. The search chair says here that it would have been perfectly fine if you had politely declined a drink. People here have indicated that they attended department social hours where alcohol was served, politely declined a drink, and got a faculty job offer. (I turned down drink offers, including at a dinner led by the female department chair who hired me.) Women in this thread have indicated that the point of these things is to show up to the social hour and chat informally about work-related matters. You are reading a lot into this event, and what reflects badly on you is that you are leveling accusations of sexism based on an innocuous event.

    Is there sexism in that department? Quite possibly. Is the department’s social hour with outdoor beers evidence of sexism? Probably not. Is it wise to accuse a person of sexism when discussing a job interview? Definitely not, just as it would be unwise to make any other sort of accusation against the person who will be interviewing you.

    Also, there are plenty of good reasons (stemming from logistics as well as consistency) for a department to prefer not to book visits with many people outside the department during the regular interview time. The chair indicated that both of the other applicants (presumably including the woman they hired) were able to arrange visits with collaborators outside the department after the regular schedule of visits had been concluded. That sort of approach would seem to balance the needs of the applicants (meeting people outside the department) with the demands of fairness (every applicant should meet with the same group of people who will be consulted on the final decision) as well as logistical concerns (squeezing off-campus visits into a schedule that might need to be changed is dangerous).

    Is their scheduling approach optimal? Maybe not. Is it reason to get into heated debate before the interview? Definitely not.

    That said, I was on the job market not too long ago, and I know how stressful it is. Relax and try to think about what you would do differently next time. For instance, suppose you do an interview where the social hour features wine and cheese, or snacks and microbrews from the culinary school (Becca’s dream school), or it’s held in a campus pub with a scenic view (a situation that I encountered in one interview)? Should you tell the search chair that this is a sexist situation, or should you politely request a different beverage while chatting about science?

    If a search chair says that it will be difficult to include meetings with other people in the schedule, should you argue with the chair, or ask if you can leave a day later to ensure enough time to visit with prospective collaborators?

  43. #43 Alex
    December 12, 2008

    Oops, linked to wrong comment. Becca said in this comment:

    On the other hand, anyone know how I can get an invite to a university with a culinary school and microbrews? Cause that sounds *awesome*.

    That’s what I meant to link to. Sorry.

  44. #44 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Alex -
    this isn’t an innocuous one-time event. If I got hired, every visitor seminar would involve a beer reception. And what seems innocuous (status quo) to many, has and does veer wildly off. Everyone pushes boundaries. Since I know the chair is reading this (and anyone else who knows my identity), I won’t detail. But when undergrad/grad students are involved, there’s a difference of power (Zuska’s on vacation). Many sex harrassment claims come up in the presence of alcohol with student/fac events. Social functions with students during the day involving alcohol = not a good idea. And I brought up to the chair that during a faculty interview for a woman = not a good idea. We already have problem establishing authority as is.
    Does anyone know how having happy hour/social alcoholic functions during faculty interviews came about? this is different from the typical (in my experience) going-out-to-nice-dinner at night with faculty. Turning down a drink at dinner, no problem. But how did this social hour with alcohol come about during class hours? For the tailgate, I offered to the chair to bring a cake (Physio or Isis – I’m waiting for my choc cake recipe!) Did this morph over from tailgating/outdoor receptions at meetings? (see DrugMonkey for where’s the women at meetings?)

    Since we keep getting back to the schedule issue – it was not possible for me to stay later. Chair – please look this up. Flights leave your town 2 hours after the last meeting ended. I went on and on about the facilities in my application packet – I could not do my work without those facilities. COULD NOT DO. Please remember that I am not like the other candidates. My work is totally different – I don’t fit the peg left by the previous person. If you were trying to recruit me, you lost me in the process. Do I think another chair would have been better or having a different host? yes and yes – the lone female on the search is exceptional. Were there other circumstances? yes. Side note: I was offered a job by YOUR school previously – different place. I walked out the door with the offer. We disagreed on startup later.

    And I hope, Chair, that beyond the snarkiness and flames you see good comments to build on. I’m thrilled you hired a woman. And I’m glad you’re listening (still?). You still have a long way to go. And I can’t wait til the day when “where are the fac women?” isn’t a topic anymore. You Chair already know how I spent this past semester – women and minorities in science isn’t just something I talk/write about. And please, read the comments over at DrugMonkey about tribes and about majorities helping minorities.

    I really do think the first step in increasing women in your dept and other related 90% male depts is eliminating events like tailgate receptions from faculty hiring (oh, I can hear you folks now – NOOOOOO!!!!!!). Since you were reading all this previously, there were other ideas put forward on tailgate substitutes that you could have suggested (but didn’t). I’ve done: Lunch with the students at the cafe, quick snacks at a buffet, time in the field! with the students, walking/eating campus tour. These are all OTHER informal ways to chat and get to know each other that are all gender-neutral. This takes effort by the MAJORITY (you) to be inclusive.

  45. #45 anon
    December 12, 2008

    as someone who doesn’t live in the US, I find this obsession with drinking/not drinking/alcohol so strange. Why does it matter who pays for the beer vs who pays for the (more expensive) plane tickets/hotel/etc for the visitor.

  46. #46 Alice
    December 12, 2008

    Okay folks. I continue to be amazed by how many comments this thread creates. However, personally, I am not interested in providing a forum for ad hominem arguing (SW can weigh in if she wants if she feels differently). Are put a problem in front of Teh Interwebz, and the Interwebz is responding, but the only reason it continues to be important to this blog is to discuss issues associated with faculty searches.

    I think there is plenty of learning available to go around — searches can undoubtedly be run better, and there is indeed risk associated with blogging about your searches in real time. Dealing with alcohol while on an interview is obviously a contentious subject (with lots of people having opinions on multiple sides), so maybe search chairs reading this can consider it a lesson learned w.r.t. their future searches, and interviewees reading this can find some tips for how to deal with different kinds of uncomfortable situations (including non-drinkers learning how to decline alcohol.).

    My biggest concern at this point is that Are offered her story to post on this blog, and I want to make all our readers feel like they can ask for advice of other readers. At the moment, I’m concerned that readers may not want to share their predicaments because of the kinds of responses they might generate. I’m not placing the blame just on Teh Internetz, Are has been quite colourful in defending herself as well. But my sense is the thread is degenerating into back-and-forths and comments are no longer adding much to the discussion.

    So. If you have something new to add to the discussion, directed to ALL the commenters and readers and not directed at *Are or Bubba* , you are welcome to keep adding to this thread. If you want to engage in (ugly) back and forths, there are plenty of other blogs (even at Scienceblogs) where this happens. I figure women in science and engineering (and men too, perhaps) have enough of this in their real lives to have to read more of it online.

    Thus endeth the sermon. And remember – the Intertubes remembers *everything.*

  47. #47 Anon4now
    December 12, 2008

    Just a quick question. One assumes that the search chair knows exactly which candidate ‘Are’ was. What a horrible amount of damage Are has done to her reputation through all of this. This isn’t just a university in isolation, academics talk to one another, and word gets around.

    And a comment:
    Alice – I think your comment is pretty heavy handed, especially in light of the attacking language used by Are towards the search chair. Are should never have shared her predicament with you and permitted it to post it on this blog, and I’d hope that in the future you would exert a little editorial control and either (i) advise someone during a real time job search offline, or (ii) offer them some guidance on how not to ruin their career in a poorly thoughtout response in comments. When people aren’t bloggers, they don’t realize the power and danger in the internet and you have a responsibility as an author to ensure that they don’t damage themselves out of ignorance.

    Ultimately, Are comes across extremely negatively and is now known negatively by people who will be reviewing her grants, publications, writing tenure letters and the like. That is not a good position to be in. It has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with discretion and use of common sense.

  48. #48 Female Engineering Professor
    December 12, 2008

    A couple of generic points not necessarily directed at anyone in particular:
    1. As has been noted here before, department related evening events are hard for faculty members with young children to attend. Meet-n-greets during the daytime are much better for those of us trying to balance academic work and family.
    2. I’m going to share an anecdote. I have a colleague (another female engineering professor-AFEP) who carries a cloud of drama around her like Pigpen’s cloud of dirt. She’s such a pain in faculty meetings that committee chairs have on occasion taken to scheduling meetings at 4:30 on Fridays in hopes that other obligations will keep her from coming. AFEP complains that our institution is anti-women or anti-family-friendly. She doesn’t realize that her behavior is sooo off-putting that her colleagues are simply anti-AFEP. The lesson to be learned here is that when you are throwing the grownup version of a tantrum, no one will listen to you. Your voice is ignored and you are unable to effect any kind of change. (I keep trying to teach this to my 5 yr old daughter.) I reccommend Deborah Tannen’s books if you’re having problems getting your voice heard. I’m trying to get AFEP to read them, too.
    3. And finally, for those of you navigating the job search world: do not offer to bring cake or other baked goods to the social meet-n-greet. Do stick a protein bar in your purse or pocket in case you get a little peckish and your hosts forget to offer you something.

  49. #49 Becca
    December 12, 2008

    “Is it wise to accuse a person of sexism when discussing a job interview? Definitely not, just as it would be unwise to make any other sort of accusation against the person who will be interviewing you.”
    It depends on your goal. If the goal is “to get a job I’ll end up hating at any cost to my personal integrity” it is most assuredly not wise to say anything remotely negative to anyone.
    If the goal is to change how things are done… it can be wise, but it must be done in such a way that the person who might be able to change can actually listen. I applaud Are for standing up to the chair, even if I think the lack of civility on both sides is indicative of a much larger problem.
    Frankly, for me personally, the most distressing part of all this seems to be that the department and Are (and some commenters, though notably not others) have all bought into the idea that “job interviewee” = person in position of total weakness and “departmental chair” = person in position of total strength. Particularly when the former is female and the later is male. While I understand why the power dynamics do play out that way, to my mind this is the thing that needs to be changed (this is far more important than whether there is alcohol at an event per se… although major props to any department managing to resolve that with “desertapalooza”).

    A good interview, a good job, needs give-and-take. And possibly creme brule or chocolate cake.

    “I’m in the Becca fan club – Bubba’s dept is federally funded. 2 women of 27 = unacceptable. The dept should be banned from funding. PERIOD. 50% of their grad students are women (see above point about doing my homework).”

    Point of Information: my original idea was to require departments to disclose the information or face loss of federal funding. Setting standards they have to meet is a more radical step. I like the idea- it’s probably necessary for some departments- but it’s tricky to implement (think of the students, won’t someone please think of the students?! It’s comparably easy for a department to collect the data, actually altering who is in the department when a state budget may have caused a hiring freeze or some such nonsense… that’s a tall order).

  50. #50 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Anon4 – This is what we want – THEY are reading. They clung to their security blankets during my round, claiming there’s never been a complaint before –> dismiss. If this dialogue spurs folks on search comms to re-evaluate their hiring/interviewing ways, WIN. If ONE fac person thinks “huh? I wonder if that last female who was uncomfy at the pig roast was a vegan?”, WIN. “Did that woman turn down the offer because of the beer in the office fridge or our lab facilities?”, WIN. It’s not enough to thread the needle with women. When there’s a large disparity, 2 thoughts: men are getting hired for being men, not for their accomplishments or talent AND women are not getting hired because they are not men. It’s damaging from the 90% male and the 10% female sides. The interview SHOULD BE about the candidates too. It IS about them. The required (standard) elements are the seminar, some do a chalk talk or a lecture, meet with the deans/admins, search, fac, staff, students – it’s an exhausting job interview, not a care bears (tea or beer) party for them or me. Candidates are evaluating depts, the people, social climate, and the facilities too. (yes, Becca, the power thing is always a problem and damn, I love cake and chocolate)

    SW and Alice did nothing wrong. SW is documenting this for other reasons. I didn’t ask them to track IP addresses/geog. We all tried to keep tabs on the conversation. Being anonymous and in a vulnerable position (on job market = understatement of year), I had to be a moving target and do some scrambling around details to avoid detection (but it was close enough to be detected!). I wanted the input and took the advice to heart. It is a conversation that needs to happen on a public level to reach women in similar stances. Women are lacking in mentors everywhere, and every male mentor of mine will admit to being puzzled at the treatment of women in science.

    I think the “broader impacts” of federal funding will become standard across the board for all agencies soon. I just hope there is punch behind it, the non-alcoholic variety.

  51. #51 Alex
    December 12, 2008

    the department and Are (and some commenters, though notably not others) have all bought into the idea that “job interviewee” = person in position of total weakness and “departmental chair” = person in position of total strength. Particularly when the former is female and the later is male.

    1) A job interview is a job interview, and my mother taught me to approach every job interview (starting when I was 16 and looking for a part-time minimum wage job) the same way: Shine the shoes, put on a tie, print out the resume neatly, learn who’s who, and be nice to everyone, no matter how rude they are. If they are rude, you can always turn down their offer and find a different job, but if you challenge them there will be no offer to turn down.

    2) I’m male, I’ve been hired to two different faculty jobs by female chairs, and I approached both of them with the exact same deference that I’ve approached any male interviewer with. Should I have tried to assert myself as with them? I’m not dumb enough to try to lock horns with an interviewer and come across as disrespectful, especially not a female interviewer (because then I’d come across as sexist as well as disrespectful). An interview is a minefield, and there’s only one way to walk through it: Never, ever lose your cool, and always be respectful.

    I’m old school. A job is a job, and if I want to get the job I have to play nice. Now, once I have the job, and I have responsibilities, I am willing to stand up for myself against anybody who is interfering with my ability to do the job–if I don’t, I can’t fulfill my responsibilities. But if I want the job, I have to play by the same rules that my mother taught me, and this will be true even if I become a bigshot scientist and academic, applying to run an institute or be Dean of a college or something. A job is a job, an interviewer is an interviewer, and I have to respect all interviewers, male or female, department chair or restaurant manager.

  52. #52 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Fem En Prof -
    The childcare stuff is TOP point. In my case, suggesting any deviation from the schedule was met with the “we need to standardize the schedules” resistance. Has anyone dealt with asking to modify schedules for childcare? Any suggestions on how to approach that topic?

  53. #53 amo
    December 12, 2008

    I’m a bit confused about the finer points of the apparent sexism going on here. I understand that this department may be sexist for having so few women faculty, but in the realm of the interview process, I’m not as clear. I’m not sure how the drinking beer outside is sexist. Is it because it would be drinking beer outside with mostly men? or that it’s beer or alcohol in general?
    For example, why is this a woman issue specifically and not a more general person issue?:
    “huh? I wonder if that last female who was uncomfy at the pig roast was a vegan?”, WIN. “Did that woman turn down the offer because of the beer in the office fridge or our lab facilities?”
    Or, am I missing the boat completely and it’s not the drinking beer outside, but some other aspect of this potential interview that would have been sexist?
    I’m asking because I just don’t see it and I’ll be applying to jobs in a year or two and this post raises issues about things it never would have occurred to me to even think twice about before.

  54. #54 D
    December 12, 2008

    Interesting question. I am a little surprised that the school wasn’t more willing to modify your schedule for child care. In my experience schedules always changed at the last minute and were behind anyway. The flexibility you request doesn’t sound unreasonable.

    That said, I do know how hard it is to schedule anything with multiple faculty members and administrators. It can be a nightmare. The herding cats analogy is always applicable.

    I guess I would need more details about exactly what you are requesting. 15-20 minutes here or there? Reasonable. Total rearrangement of schedule? Long breaks? Extended interview? These could be unreasonable.

  55. #55 Alex
    December 12, 2008

    Are,

    I’m surprised to hear that childcare was one of the issues in your interview schedule, as you had not mentioned it previously. That is certainly something that a reasonable department should accommodate, and if that was an issue then I think a complaint to HR is appropriate. However, I am surprised that you never mentioned this in any of the previous, very detailed discussions of what went wrong with that interview.

  56. #56 Newly Professor Emeritus. female
    December 12, 2008

    I have served on scores (yes, “scores”) of search committees over more than three decades. Our Midwestern public university and our department gradually adopted fairly rigid protocols for interviews, as well as for student/faculty events. #1: No alcohol on campus or at official or quasi-official university events off campus. #2 Most undergraduate students are minors, faculty are strongly encouraged to avoid student events off campus that involve alcohol.Our student drinking-culture has resulted in several fatal over-doses among our students. #3: All candidates during a search interview are asked the identical questions and are presented the questions in writing. #4: In our department and our College of Science & Engineering, a large percentage of the faculty have young children and working spouses, thus, “informal luncheons” with candidates are held off-campus AFTER the department-level formal interview and quantitative scores are turned in the the Affirmative Action officer. #5: Interviews for tenure-track candidates are spread over two days, to allow greater contact between the candidate and other faculty, staff and administrators on campus. #6: No candidates are invited to parties at staff members’ homes during the interview visit.
    How is all this potential fairness subverted (and it is)? In scoring a candidate’s answer to the standard questions, many search committee members adjust their scores to account for how they perceive that the candidate will “fit into the department” and to be collegial. Also, it is quite common for search committees to not invite the best qualified candidates for interviews, based on the assumption that such candidates may not be “happy” here, or are using the search process to further his or her own tenure or advancement prospects. Furthermore, tenure-track searches are frequently delayed, and then a fixed-term instructor is hired, who often is a relative, friend or neighbor. The consequences of these choices by search committee members, and acquiescing or “blind” dean is to virtually insure a homogeneous and mediocre department.

  57. #57 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Amo – the dismissal about my concerns was sexist. The “if it doesn’t bother the male majority or MeManInCharge, then it’s not valid concern” crap. An example line goes: “what problem? I can name ONE example of a woman chair” or “no woman has ever complained before, what’s the problem?” The thing about it is that a lot of times the sexist remark comes from someone never thought to be sexist. The pattern that jumps at me is a justification and a dismissal. Good question. And the job of the enlightened is to call it out. Sometimes that sucks. But it might lead to further enlightenment (or cookies next door).

    Here’s a few of 11!!1!! links about sexism: here and here

    Having beers with the undergrads as a woman does not convey an image of authority AND poses the possibility that something awful can happen if it’s a regular/accepted activity (and it does – it just may be that nothing awful has happened at this place… yet). I am against alcohol during work hours at school or office – to me, there is trouble waiting to be had. Yes, we all know of lab meetings at bars type stuff. The faculty interview is with total strangers, not friends, not family. It’s WORK, not a care bears party: Physio as a wee Funshine.

    This all relates with 1) how to ask and bring up and negotiate sticky issues as a job candidate, whether they be childcare, presence of alcohol, medical, jetlag, etc., 2) how to eliminate or modify the events, like dessertapalooza, and 3) how search committees can strike a balance between the required elements of the interview used by the faculty for assessment with the needs/requests of the candidates, like squeezing in an hour for breast-pumping or feeding. You’re right – this is a general “I’m not in the majority” interviewee issue, which needs people being sensitive rather than dismissive.

    I’m glad you came to discussion now and welcome to the job market jungle. It never occurred to me before either! You’ll be well prepared.

    Alex – the childcare was for the Female Eng prof. It was not about my situation.

    Emeritus – you rock. and thanks for reporting the suckage.

  58. #58 Female Engineering Professor
    December 12, 2008

    Are,
    I’m really not sure what you’re asking. I made the point because you seemed to be suggesting that a dinner was better than a daytime event.

    You also seem to be contending that it’s okay to have alcohol at social events for male candidates but not for female candidates. I don’t understand that. As I said earlier, it’s really expected that candidates won’t imbibe so it really shouldn’t matter either way. I still don’t understand how a afternoon “tailgater” is somehow categorically offensive to women.

    Maybe I just don’t understand enough of where you’re coming from. I really think there is a communication problem here. You were unable to effectively communicate your needs to the search committee. You need to come up with strategies for preventing that from happening again while at the same time realizing that the world is suboptimal and you might not get everything you ask for. It doesn’t automatically mean they’re being sexist.

    I remember on my job interview for this job, I asked for my itenerary for the day. The admin person sent me my flight schedule instead of my schedule. I remember thinking how disorganized these people were. No one arranged to take me out to dinner and I thought that was very strange. Later when I took the job, I realized what a saint the admin person was, and I found out about the goofy funding rules we have here that limit the dept’s ability to take people out. It’s easy to project all kinds of things on a group of people you don’t know anything about. Be aware of this potential pitfall.

  59. #59 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Amo – the dismissal about my concerns was sexist. The “if it doesn’t bother the male majority or MeManInCharge, then it’s not valid concern” crap. An example line goes: “what problem? I can name ONE example of a woman chair” or “no woman has ever complained before, what’s the problem?” The thing about it is that a lot of times the sexist remark comes from someone never thought to be sexist. The pattern that jumps at me is a justification and a dismissal. Good question. And the job of the enlightened is to call it out. Sometimes that sucks. But it might lead to further enlightenment (or cookies next door).

    Here’s a few of 11!!1!! links about sexism: here and here

    Having beers with the undergrads as a woman does not convey an image of authority AND poses the possibility that something awful can happen if it’s a regular/accepted activity (and it does – it just may be that nothing awful has happened at this place… yet). I am against alcohol during work hours at school or office – to me, there is trouble waiting to be had. Yes, we all know of lab meetings at bars type stuff. The faculty interview is with total strangers, not friends, not family. It’s WORK, not a care bears party: Physio as a wee Funshine.

    This all relates with 1) how to ask and bring up and negotiate sticky issues as a job candidate, whether they be childcare, presence of alcohol, medical, jetlag, etc., 2) how to eliminate or modify the events, like dessertapalooza, and 3) how search committees can strike a balance between the required elements of the interview used by the faculty for assessment with the needs/requests of the candidates, like squeezing in an hour for breast-pumping or feeding. You’re right – this is a general “I’m not in the majority” interviewee issue, which needs people being sensitive rather than dismissive.

    I’m glad you came to discussion now and welcome to the job market jungle. It never occurred to me before either! You’ll be well prepared.

    Alex – the childcare was for the Female Eng prof. It was not about my situation.

    Emeritus – you rock. and thanks for reporting the suckage.

  60. #60 Are
    December 12, 2008

    Fem Eng prof:
    No, beer with dinner is not BETTER than a daytime event. My personal position = NO ALCOHOL. This doesn’t just apply to women. My stinking post is in moderation! It should appear, sometime.

  61. #61 the science diva
    December 12, 2008

    wow, i’m reading this now, and i just have to say..are. you should like a huge b.

    i did have some sympathy for you in the beginning, since i’m looking to get a job in academia, but dang girl. seriously. grow up. stop thinking the world is against you. someone has men issues.

  62. #62 solidasarock
    December 12, 2008

    A) I pointed out my concerns about beer at faculty interviewing functions involving *undergrads*, grads, postdocs, and staff because as faculty, I would be a role model to them and would be modeling that to make it in the biz, I need to grab a beer to roll like the guys. You replied that you’ve never heard this complaint before. Thanks for the dismissal – I needed that.

    It’s good that you would be concerned with undergrads. I think this is a valid point, but what you did later about asking where the money and where it’s coming from is a bit arrogant on your end. I was an undergrad not too long ago, and ma’am, we drink, even before we’re 21, believe it or not. I understand you’d like to be a good rolemodel, but I dont understand how you going to the ‘tailgate’ and not drinking and showing you could control yourself would not be a good rolemodel. I think you’re just trying to have the high horse, but it’s making you look quite arrogant I believe.

    We are back to the turtlenecks at FSP. Do I take up golf or grab a beer to fit in with the hiring 90% male faculty crowd who was fine and impressed with me as a student/postdoc (because I was busy cranking out paper after paper after paper – definitely wasn’t doing any standing around) but now, I have to fit in by “formally” standing around and acting like them, with beer, golf clubs, turtlenecks? My productivity (pubs/$$$/teaching/service) gets me the interview invite. Being fun and flirty (and obliviousness to the boyz club?) is then needed to impress them to be a colleague? to fit in? The image of 90% male fac dept is that women don’t fit. Something has to give.

    Ma’am, your awesome research and work ethic did get you the job interview. But part of the job interview is also seeing how well you fit in. You dont have to talk with them about beer, gold clubs and turtleneck. For someone who is all about change, that is an awfully narrowminded view. These arepeople who wish to see what their potential colleague is like, and as my advisor says, “you can be the smartest and most accomplished person in the world, but if you’re an ass, you’ll get no where.”

    You dont have to conform to them. No one is saying that. But you have to play nice with them. This goes to all future interviews that you do have. I wish you the best of luck, but if people do know exactly who you are, then I worry that this little bit may have tarnished your reputation. I know for a fact that the academic community is very small (duh), and well, when it’s small, people talk. It’s almost like high school how gossip and juicy tidbits travel around so fast, so just be careful next time.

    This is just one discussion we need to be having. How do we target women in our interviewing practices? It’s one thing to stick them on the short list. I’ve been token female. It’s another thing to have a search chair who’s sensitive and open to the conditions of each applicant…. males too. One of my colleagues had a whopper of a time with a search committee – he was flying to the east coast from the west coast. The search booked the breakfast at 8am (5am pac) and the seminar for 10am (7am pac). I have felt soooo much more comfortable when women take the lead to host me during interviews – it’s a big difference. I hope others will comment on that.

    Ma’am, you keep on talking about minorities and then switching to women in general. I am Pacific Islander, and I am a minority. I dont see you talking about or getting into a conniption fit over how minorities are being treated. I believe that you may be lost in your own self righteousness and cannot see what else is going on. The question shouldnt just be women. It should be about African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. Again, I have to go back to my earlier comment about you losing yourself in your own self righteousness. I do hope that you find yourself and get out of your anger.

    I had an instructor back in undergrad. She was an accomplished woman, but I remember her giving a talk about women in academia at a conference. She was angry. She sounded angry. She sounded bitter. It made her look really bad. I’m just going to stop there so I dont get into ad hominem stuff and libel now. Just dont be angry. Anger gets you nowhere.

    To quote Yoda
    “Anger leads to the darkside.”

  63. #63 Anonymous
    December 13, 2008

    I have read both the last thread and this one, including the comments, and I still fail to see why Are thinks the department is sexist. Were they not accommodating? Well, they certainly could have done better. Should they be having an alcohol-event as part of the interview? That’s a subject for debate. But sexist? For having an informal gathering that involves beer? Uh, no. Newsflash – there are drinkers and nondrinkers in both genders. As a professional woman, I have been to informal gatherings involving beer, where I have both accepted and declined a drink. It doesn’t make me any less of a professional or a woman. To assume otherwise WOULD be sexist.

    By the way, people keep bringing up the “this is a Southern thing.” I have lived and worked in the North East all my life, and there have always been informal gatherings involving beer. Maybe I am in a completely different field of science, but it’s certainly not a valid geographical assumption. It actually made me go “HUH?!”- you mean you don’t have those?! LOL Though I have to say that ours have never involved undergrads. Graduate students however are always welcome to come. And oh yeah, the majority of my department is FEMALE.

    So no, just because they didn’t give you what you wanted doesn’t make them sexist. It makes them inflexible, but not sexist.

  64. #64 Eli Rabett
    December 18, 2008

    Social graces appear to be lacking on all sides here. The take away is that while many consider moderate drinking of alcohol appropriate in department affairs, others have medical, religious or family reasons not to do so. Each side needs to accomadate(sp) to the other. It can and has been done

  65. #65 Home Decor and Decorations
    October 27, 2010

    This is some really great advice. I think you’ve done a good job at organizing the basic points that will help improve a person’s interviewing skills. You’re a talented writer.

  66. #66 Home Decor and Decorations
    October 27, 2010

    It is easy to pretend that you are someone you’re not on the internet. This persona, however, can be shattered pretty quickly in the business world.

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