The Academic Meritocracy
A good friend of mine recently found out that he didn’t get the tenure-track job he was up for, and was told in confidence that the university’s president personally intervened to force the department to hire a woman over my obviously more qualified friend (she’s a grad student who hasn’t finished her dissertation; he has a top-tier Ph.D., a book coming out in two months, and four years teaching experience).
Of course this came as no shock, considering I once was interviewed at an academic conference and was told that they “simply couldn’t hire a white male.” This too could only be said in confidence, after the interviewer looked around to ensure that no one was listening. More generally, the division head of a junior college I once taught at asked me why I even bothered sending out CVs, saying that “no one can hire a white male.”
And yet we continue to pretend that hiring in this profession is based on merit. I don’t get that. Well, I get why the image is necessary, but if anyone out there buys it they’re seriously deluded. Of course the most deluded of all is the American Political Science Association — which is supposed to be our guild — but which willfully keeps its head in the sand in the name of what they call “diversity.”