Over the past month I have been putting together materials to apply for professorships. Much like applying to college or graduate school, applying to jobs means updating your curriculum vitae, putting together statements summarizing your research and teaching experience, and gathering letters of recommendation to send out to hiring schools, all in time for a fall deadline that is fast approaching (gulp). This process is a bit stressful and comes with many questions and concerns (What type of school do I want to work at? Am I good enough? What am I going to do if I don’t get any interviews? What am I going to do if I DO get interviews?). One question that had never crossed my mind was “Might I be at a disadvantage because of my gender?” But then I read an article on gender differences in letters of recommendation in academia, and suddenly it was a salient question.
Growing up, being female never felt like a disadvantage. Both of my parents worked and maintained the household, I didn’t have any brothers to create comparisons, and I was in classes with smart motivated students of both genders. The year I entered college was the first year that there were more females in college than males. Gender comparisons just weren’t part of my everyday experience. To be honest, I had little awareness that there could be any type of glass ceiling for me because of my gender. What does any of this have to do with applying for jobs? Well, in an attempt to prepare myself for job applications, I scoured the internet for helpful resources. One of the articles that I came across described research showing that letters of recommendation tend to highlight different traits for men and women, differences that is seems may actually put women at a disadvantage for getting the job.
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