Does gender influence when people first apply for faculty jobs?

A couple of months ago, a reader of the blog sent me an email containing a figure she’d made from this year’s ecology job wiki, using data from the “anonymous qualifications” sheet. That figure suggested that women might be waiting longer than men to start applying for tenure track jobs — or, more specifically, that men might be more likely that women to apply for faculty positions while still in grad school or within the first year after getting their PhD. After recreating the figure myself and also looking at the 2015-2016 job wiki and finding a similar pattern, I decided to do a poll to see whether this pattern held up with more data. Results are below, but the quick summary is that women do not seem to be waiting longer to apply for faculty positions (at least based on the poll data).

First, here’s my version of the figure that was originally sent to me. (Data and code available here.)

2016-2017 EcoEvoJobs wiki data from “anonymous qualifications” tab

The person who sent it to me noted the difference for the most recent PhDs, and it did seem interesting to me. But the sample size is very small (as the person who emailed me noted), so I decided to check the 2015-2016 jobs wiki to see if it also showed the same pattern. It did (but with an even smaller sample size):

2015-2016 EcoEvoJobs wiki data from “anonymous qualifications” tab

It seemed intriguing, so I decided to do a poll of our readers. So, on to the poll results…

Looking at all the responses, seem skewed towards applying earlier, but the pattern doesn’t seem as striking (note that the x-axis has changed, with earlier applications now on the left of the figure):

Data from Dynamic Ecology poll

Looking just at people with 2012 PhDs or later, the pattern goes away entirely:

Data from Dynamic Ecology poll, using just data from people with PhDs in 2012 or later

So, based on these data, I would say that there doesn’t seem to be a clear difference in terms of when men and women first start applying for faculty positions.

The poll also collected information on year of PhD, when people first got interviews, when they first got offers, and reasons for not applying sooner. I haven’t had a chance to analyze those results yet, but hope to do so soon!

2 thoughts on “Does gender influence when people first apply for faculty jobs?

  1. I wonder if men are more likely to fill in the “anonymous qualifications” tab on the Job Wiki. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if this were the case…

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