Should we hire academics who are parents?

by Ingrid Robeyns on February 3, 2009

“Harry’s post last week”:, and Kieran and Magistra’s comments on that post, reminded me of another problem with the academic labour market. In many professions, you have to be a certified, skilled and experienced person, but there is an upper-ceiling on what will be demanded and expected from you for hiring purposes. You have to be good and good enough, but you don’t have to be better than all the others. In fact, there may be no way to say who is better than the others if we compare candidates who are all above a certain threshold of competences and experience. In academia, it seems that the sky is the limit. So it is not good enough to have a PhD degree, some teaching experience, some experience in administration, some experience abroad and a handful of high-quality publications; no, you need more of this compared with your competitors on the job market. You don’t need to be just good; you need to be better than the others. So if there is someone competing for the same job, who has been able and willing to work significantly more hours than you over the last years, than all other things equal that person will have a more impressing CV and will be hired (except if this person is a really horrible character, or known to be a person who always causes trouble).
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