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Negotiation is not a sin

I’ve been in quite a few job searches, on both sides of the table. I think I know what makes for a good job candidate, and I respect one who makes reasonable requests for accommodation. So I was rather shocked by this story in Inside Higher Ed about a candidate who lost a job for negotiating.

She was offered a position, and she wrote back requesting a few things that would help make her decision.

1) An increase of my starting salary to $65,000, which is more in line with what assistant professors in philosophy have been getting in the last few years. 

2) An official semester of maternity leave. 

3) A pre-tenure sabbatical at some point during the bottom half of my tenure clock. 

4) No more than three new class preps per year for the first three years. 

5) A start date of academic year 2015 so I can complete my postdoc.

The college’s reply? They withdrew the job offer!

It was determined that on the whole these provisions indicate an interest in teaching at a research university and not at a college, like ours, that is both teaching and student centered. Thus, the institution has decided to withdraw its offer of employment to you.

That’s absurd. The article has several other sources criticizing the negotiator (also calling Nazareth College “totally uncouth”), but I thought every one of those requests was reasonable, and I could easily imagine how we, at my “teaching and student centered” institution would respond. At the top of our priorities would be doing what we can to turn the candidate into a happy colleague.

  1. Salary decisions are largely out of our department’s hands — that’s determined higher up. We go to bat for our candidates trying to get the best salary we can, so we’d probably go back to the administration and get them to concede as much as possible. We almost certainly wouldn’t get $65K for an assistant professor of philosophy, which is very high for a small liberal arts school, but we’d come back with a counter offer.

  2. Maternity leave is a really good thing. Balancing work and life is important, and yes, we’d yell at the administration to get that for them. Also, if the candidate were a man, I’d think it also a good sign.

  3. A pre-tenure leave is also an excellent idea. We already have policies in place to encourage new faculty to take a semester leave before coming up for tenure. We may be a teaching university, but hell no, we’re not going to tell faculty to abandon all scholarship.

  4. The most draining, exhausting thing in starting a new position is developing new courses. Every time I’ve done it, it’s a killer: every night is a late night spent reading and taking notes and putting lectures and labs together — and everyone in my department is well aware of the challenges.

    But small faculty at a small university means you have to wear a lot of hats, and new faculty are often hired with a laundry list of courses we need taught. We have tricks we do to lighten the load, though: pairing new faculty with experienced ones in particular courses, balancing introductory courses with advanced ones, juggling other faculty’s schedule so they take on a course that was initially assigned to the new person’s list, so they can get a breather by repeating a course. We always have a set of courses on our roster that need to be covered; I’d fire back with a two year plan with specific courses and ask if that was reasonable.

  5. Ouch. This is probably the most problematic one. When we send out a job announcement, it has a specific start date clearly stated — we mean that. If we say “Fall 2014″, it’s because we need a person teaching a course that is essential for our students at that time — you can’t tell students that they don’t get to graduate this year because a scheduled course required for their major isn’t offered this year.

But really, I read that list and saw absolutely nothing that implied this person wasn’t being serious about being committed to a teaching university. There were requests that I’d imagine we’d have a hard time meeting, but nothing that wasn’t a reasonable concern for a person that was serious about their academic career.

The rejection by Nazareth College tells me one thing: that their philosophy department isn’t as committed to their faculty’s fulfillment as they should be, and that she is better off not going to work there.

Well, it does tell me one other thing: the job market for academics is so desperate that some universities assume they can be total assholes to their candidate pool.

Comments

  1. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Well, it does tell me one other thing: the job market for academics is so desperate that some universities assume they can be total assholes to their candidate pool.

    See also: libraries. (Found that out the hard way.)

  2. jamessweet says

    Heh, Nazareth, eh? I practically drove by that college this morning. Actually, I would have if I had remembered the shortcut to the car dealership, instead of taking the main roads.

    Not that I have anything to add, it’s just fun when I can say, “Hey, I know where that is!” :)

  3. robinjohnson says

    Even if they weren’t willing to meet her terms, the fact that they reacted to the request by withdrawing the whole offer instead of just refusing the terms is telling. They don’t want someone who can start this year; they want someone who doesn’t expect rights.

  4. carlie says

    I’ve read a couple of pieces on it and a couple hundred comments, and I think I come down on the side of the college on this one. Yes, asking for negotiations is ok. Unfortunately, the way the writer phrased her entire email did give off a huge air of “I don’t really know the environment I’m about to walk into”, and I don’t think I blame the dean/VP for cutting and running, especially if the second choice was almost/equally as good. I’m in a small college, and fit for the institution is a huge, huge consideration. Huge. If the candidate doesn’t know exactly what job they’re taking and in what environment, disaster is nigh. The thing about academic jobs, at least the places I’ve been, is that if the person comes and decides it’s not their preferred place and leaves after a year or two, replacement of that position isn’t guaranteed. The dept. may end up at the bottom of the hiring priority list and have to wait a few more years to refill the position, so it’s a big risk. Her request about delaying a year is the one I find most egregious – you don’t apply for a job if you’re not ready to start on the advertised date. If a candidate asked that, I’d be offended that they wasted our time through a whole search. If they were somewhat on the fence with her as their top choice to begin with, it’s easier on everyone for them to just cut it off then.

    That said, the search committee was crap at their jobs, if they got all the way to their first choice without realizing that the fit would be wrong. I think the entire thing was handled terribly. She should have been told by the department exactly what the first year’s teaching assignments was, so that she would know whether it was possible to condense it down to three preps. She should have been told about the maternity leave policy by HR on her campus visit. It should have been clear that the need was for this coming year. I don’t think the school acted well in any way, but I can understand their actions.

  5. carlie says

    (clarification: I understand that they decided she was too big a risk, not how neglectfully they acted prior to that).

  6. says

    Yeah PZ, it’s hard out there. I recently posted an announcement for a research assistant and got several applicants with doctorates and basically failed academic careers — a series of adjunct jobs, maybe a post-doc. It breaks your heart.

  7. qwints says

    I’m curious about number 4. It seems strange that the initial workload wouldn’t be discussed before an offer was made. When in the interview process would a candidate know what courses the college needed covered?

  8. carlie says

    quints – ideally during the phone interview, at the least during the on-campus interview. It may be that they did and she didn’t realize that it was non-negotiable, but in a department with 4 faculty, there often isn’t any room for swapping classes/taking someone else’s load.

  9. says

    That is weird. In our interviews, we’re really specific: we know exactly what courses we need the new person to cover, and we lay them out in detail. They’re often listed in the job announcement, and we tell them in the preliminary phone interview. We usually have a little wobble room, though, and we say we’d really love you to teach an upper-level course in your specialty.

  10. futurechemist says

    I’m mostly with the college on this one. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to call the applicant first to discuss each of the requests, and explain why some of them were not doable. 2 of them especially, Fall 2015 start, and only teaching 3 classes, just aren’t workable. A quick count of the NC philosophy department shows 28 classes and 9 faculty (10 counting the new hire). With that many courses being offered, demanding to teach the same 3 just isn’t workable. Was she expecting to teach the same 2-3 courses every semester for 3 years?

    Most damning to me was the Fall 2015 start date. She said it was so she could complete her postdoc. To me that says “I will definitely not be ready to start Fall 2014″ and if the Dean’s office thought there was no way to compromise that request, that could have been what made them just offer the job to someone who could start on time. I’ve worked in small departments like that, where there are barely enough people to keep every course taught. Not having someone they expected to have means an emergency visitor/adjunct search, which is hard to do this late in the semester. If I was on a search committee and my chosen applicant asked if they could have a 1 year deferral, that would be a huge red flag for me.

  11. says

    Also, standard teaching load at these places is 3/2 — 5 courses a year. It would be unusual to demand 4 difficult upper level courses out of that bunch, or refuse to accept multiple sections of the same course.

  12. says

    How are you with the college on this one, when you say you’d discuss the requests with the applicant? Because they didn’t.

  13. futurechemist says

    @12 PZ
    I’m with the college in the sense that this list of demands would have made me think “This is not the right person for the job and I’m having 2nd thoughts about offering her the position”. But I would have discussed it with the applicant first and told her to that requests 4-5 were not doable, and if she couldn’t start Fall 2014 she should not take this job.

  14. magicbullet says

    Speaking of post-docs, what’s the attitude towards doing them in the biz? Is it seen as good thing? Or are they a sign that you haven’t been sufficiently successful? Sorry for wandering off topic.

  15. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    I’m wondering (being the cynic that I am) if the request for maternity leave may not have been the proverbial straw. Or maybe it was that it was a she that was asking to negotiate, not a he (when men negotiate, it is seen as a positive, when women negotiate, it is seen as negative).

  16. perplexed says

    I run large retail organizations but have done work within the college and university framework. The hiring paradigm has shifted dramatically. There are literally dozens of qualified candidates per opening giving all the leverage to the hiring institution. In the scramble to make every dollar count the hiring organization can be and are relatively inflexible. They may move a little but what you described in the OP is more than a little. It has almost become,” here’s the job and and the compensation package that goes with it, take it or leave it.” There is zero obligation to negotiate on the hiring managers part and in this day and age they don’t and would rather find a candidate that in their view is grateful for the chance.
    This is not to say every organization negotiates this way but my observation is the the majority certainly do. It’s purely supply and demand and right now the supply side is dramatically needier than the demand side.
    If someone chooses to negotiate now they roll the dice and take their chances.

  17. says

    Post-docs are fine. They typically don’t contribute to teaching experience, but we don’t hold them against you. We accept candidates straight out of grad school.

    They’re essential if you’re applying for a research position.

  18. ChasCPeterson says

    I thought every one of those requests was reasonable

    The salary request may or may not have been reasonable; I’d have to research the field and location. Maternity leave ought to be a given. The course preps–again I don’t know what’s expected of the faculty at that particular place; at a typical community college, though, you’ll have four different course-preps your first year, and like it.
    But a pre-tenure sabbatical? Really? I’ve never ever heard of such a thing (and I’ve been around: four (4) assistant professorships). I once got a slight reduction in teaching for one semester…
    And the year extension is a “no” every time. Waiting for the offer to demand it was not cool on the candidate’s part, imo.
    I’ll go with carlie @#4 on this one–all of it.

    Speaking of post-docs, what’s the attitude towards doing them in the biz?

    In science it’s a damn-near requirement. I have no idea what a “post-doc” in philosophy would even entail.

  19. leftwingfox says

    But I would have discussed it with the applicant first and told her to that requests 4-5 were not doable, and if she couldn’t start Fall 2014 she should not take this job.

    “Take it or leave it” is a very different position than “leave”.

  20. hillaryrettig says

    I almost always side with the underdog/disempowered, but in this case I’m also with Carlie. I think Nazareth behaved unethically, but it looks like W munged the negotiation big-time. Asking for R1 type concessions at a SLAC is a big mistake. And not acting as if you’re in a buyer’s market when you are is also a big mistake.

    Here’s her response, btw:
    http://philosophysmoker.blogspot.com/2014/03/w-speaks-about-her-pfo-fo.html

    One thing that leaps out at me is the 20% salary increase which she seems to find reasonable. Most of the similar salary negotiations I’m familiar with were for more like 5-10%.

    And I agree that she should have simply read the maternity policy. If she wanted an expanded maternity leave that’s a legit request, but she might have peddled back on other time-off requests and concessions.

    The tone of her email was off, and of course it’s always a better idea to discuss these things in person/via phone and then confirm by email.

    Nazareth screwed up, and there probably was some sexism, AND she probably got bad advice, but her judgment and communications skills seem “off.” (Even her judgment to “out” N.) N should have simply denied her requests and hope she walked – but they might have gotten to the point where they were actually scared that she’d accept.

    I would be surprised if they dumped her casually, though–especially as she would have been a good “diversity hire.” I’m sure there was a lot of behind the scenes discussions, and at my further guess is that right now, despite the public embarrassment, they are now congratulating themselves for having dodged a bullet.

  21. hillaryrettig says

    It’s actually a negotiation *tactic* to come up with an unreasonable list – if you want the negotiation to explode. That’s what she inadvertently did, and that’s what happened.

  22. Becca Stareyes says

    Now I’m curious what the standard philosophy curriculum is. I don’t think I could get ‘no more than three new class preps’ in physics unless the university didn’t have both algebra-based and calculus-based physics sequences. I might finagle taking over as many of the sections of algebra-based physics and gen ed astronomy as I could* to avoid having to prep for three courses my first semester, but it depends on what the university needs.

    But for all I know ‘gen ed philosophy and two intro for majors courses’ are enough to keep a new philosophy instructor plenty busy her first year, so asking to only have sections of three different courses was reasonable. (I also wonder why this wasn’t discussed with the candidate before the offer was made. I wonder why a lot of things weren’t discussed, like maternity leave policy.)

    * And places I’ve interviewed at seemed to indicate that it would be unlikely I’d be handling the entire Intro to Physics course sequence on my lonesome, while tenured professors sipped cocktails and taught upperclass seminars from the beach, so such flexibility was something I could expect from them.

  23. chris61 says

    I can see where the individual negotiating points, while reasonable in themselves, could be construed as a lack of serious interest in the position but I still think the college’s response was surprisingly inflexible.

  24. Lee1 says

    I disagree with those who are siding with Nazareth here. I’m currently on the faculty at an R2 institution, but I interviewed at and had offers from schools ranging from small liberal arts to R1 over the past 4-5 years. Nothing she asked for strikes me as remotely unreasonable to at least ask about, even at a small mainly teaching school, and I’m baffled that Nazareth would withdraw the job offer instead of just saying no to some/all of the requests. The $65,000 salary was probably pretty unrealistic, but certainly not to the point of absurdity; and again, why wouldn’t they just say they couldn’t go that high instead of withdrawing the offer?

    “But a pre-tenure sabbatical? Really? I’ve never ever heard of such a thing (and I’ve been around: four (4) assistant professorships).”

    We have them at my university, and I’ve heard of them at a pretty good number of other schools. Perhaps they’re less common at smaller, more teaching-oriented schools like Nazareth, but they’re certainly far from unheard of.

    “And the year extension is a “no” every time.”

    I don’t know what things are like in philosophy, but in my field (biology), this is false. It’s not that uncommon for people offered a position, including at smaller schools, to ask for a one or two semester deferment, and those requests are granted with some significant frequency (I don’t know exactly how frequently, but again it’s far from unheard of). It would have been completely normal for Nazareth to say no to that, but to withdraw the offer because of it (along with the other requests) is just bizarre.

  25. eoleen says

    Another interesting observation. I tried to go to the Nazareth College website, just for a peek, and I COULDN’T. The connection was repeatedly disconnected while the first page was loading…

    Interesting…

  26. Lee1 says

    I guess I should clarify I don’t know anything about Nazareth specifically, and maybe the environment there is such that her requests were wildly out of place and she should have known that. But speaking more generally about colleges and universities ranging from SLAC to R1, they were absolutely not unreasonable and certainly not a decent basis for withdrawing the offer.

  27. Parse says

    5) A start date of academic year 2015 so I can complete my postdoc.

    My cynic senses are tingling about this, sensing bad motive on the part of the college. How would she have gotten to the job offer, without confirming her availability from the start?
    At my previous employer, one of the software developers working there was hired with some college under his belt, but no degree. The overwhelming majority of jobs in the field require a relevant degree; if he wanted to look elsewhere for a job, he would fail the pre-screening. It’s a nasty barrel to be over, that if you want to stay in the field, you pretty much have to stay at that company, and the company took advantage of that.
    This rescinded job offer reminds me of my (now ex-)coworker; Nazareth was hoping to poach a pre-doc (for less than they’d pay somebody with a doctorate), and use her limited options to burn her out. (“Oh? You don’t like it? Okay, good luck finding another job. Or you can just deal with it.”) The fact that she didn’t roll over in negotiations showed that her backbone made her overqualified for the position.

  28. carlie says

    My cynic senses are tingling about this, sensing bad motive on the part of the college. How would she have gotten to the job offer, without confirming her availability from the start?

    She has the relevant degree; postdocs are usually only preferred or not even mentioned in ad requirements. And a lot of people cut their postdocs short if there’s an issue with the PI, or if the perfect job comes up during the middle of the postdoc. It sounds like they might not have pushed enough during the interview to be sure that she was willing to leave hers early, but it’s not entirely unusual for someone to do so. And often they work something out where they work the postdoc during Christmas and summer breaks (it’s usually a 9 or 10 month contract, so the summer months they’re free to work at the postdoc) to finish up.

  29. kurczaki3 says

    It is weird how intelligent and educated people cut themselves short. I am not in academia though I see this occurring at all levels of job spectrum. I believe you have to negotiate you have to ask and what the person asked for should not be in the discussion of reasonable or not reasonable, because reason here is linked to prior behavior. What is wrong in asking? What is wrong in respecting your self and clarifying your assumption or the assumption of the institution that you plan to work in?

    thank you @ hillaryrettig for the link. and I agree with you it seems to me they were afraid she will accept the position.

  30. says

    From her message:

    I certainly did not expect to get either a junior leave or a year for my postdoc. I just thought there was no harm in asking. […] I have also been involved in negotiating in non-academic contexts and (maybe wrongly) got the sense that it works along the “there is no harm in asking”-lines as well.

    I know she’s a philosopher and not a psychologist, but really? If she had asked for ten billion a year, would there have been no harm in that?

    Negotiating isn’t just about setting a price, it’s about setting the terms of a relationship. If one party to the negotiations makes outsized demands, they’re effectively saying, “I’m the one holding the power here, so I get to dictate the terms”. That probably was not what she was thinking, but I can see how the department took it that way and why they believed that such a person would be difficult to work with.

  31. ChasCPeterson says

    My cynic senses are tingling about this, sensing bad motive on the part of the college. How would she have gotten to the job offer, without confirming her availability from the start?

    If you read the candidate’s responsE (linked @#21), she says she did not expect to get the pre-tenure sabbatical or the year deferment, but thought it wouldn;t hurt to ask. This strongly implies that she did not “need” the year.
    And I’m going to be crass enough to ask what “finishing a postdoc” in philosophy means anyway. There were no experiments to run or fieldwork to finish (presumably); can it involve anything beyond reading, thinking, and writing?
    I started a “postdoc” before finidhing my “doc”, so I wrote the dissertation after 5:00 during the non-field season. It can be done.

  32. Lee1 says

    If she had asked for ten billion a year, would there have been no harm in that?

    I think it’s worth re-emphasizing for people not in academia that, broadly speaking, there was nothing “outsized” or unheard of in the requests she made (that may not be true for specific schools or specific academic fields, but broadly speaking it is). And since the period after the offer is made but before it’s accepted is essentially the only time she has significant leverage to negotiate for these things (unless at some future point someone else tries to hire her away), it was completely reasonable for her to ask for them when and how she did.

    Also, it’s not accurate to characterize them as “demands” – it’s very clear from the entirety of her email (more than what PZ quoted) that she was making requests, not demands, and she was well aware that Nazareth might not be able to accommodate all of them.

  33. carlie says

    Negotiating isn’t just about setting a price, it’s about setting the terms of a relationship.

    Exactly.

    think it’s worth re-emphasizing for people not in academia that, broadly speaking, there was nothing “outsized” or unheard of in the requests she made (that may not be true for specific schools or specific academic fields, but broadly speaking it is).

    Your “may not be true for” exemption may be exactly what happened, and by that point she should have known whether it was or not. I’m very sensitive to the notion of fit, because I’ve been in extremely small schools, and even one single person who isn’t enthusiastic about pitching in the way it’s needed there is an enormous drain on the system (and the other employees, who have to pick up the slack). Don’t forget that an academic appointment may well be for life, so this isn’t just someone they might have to put up with for a few years who will then leave if they don’t quite match the expectations. If they make it through tenure and don’t get other offers, those people can be stuck with that hire forever, who then becomes the “dead weight” of the department, or the research superstar who never has time for committee work and then the others have to do it, which takes time away from their research opportunities. For good or ill, an academic position isn’t just about whether you have the qualifications or don’t – as has been stated, there are a hundred or more people who have the qualifications. The real question is whether it appears you will be able to flourish in that particular microenvironment as a teacher, a scholar, and as a colleague. She may have just slipped up in her wording, but that’s something a hiring committee would be exquisitely sensitive to. (and one might assume a philosopher would know how to choose and tailor her words carefully in any case).

  34. ChasCPeterson says

    And the fact is that there could be all kinds of semi-shady shit going on that we can and will never know. The department could have been split; maybe the chair preferred another candidate and used the negotiation as a way to veto. Maybe it was the Dean who did that, or the Provost, or whoever.
    It’s always such a multidimensional crapshoot.

  35. says

    Well, Myers, your last sentence is sadly correct, and so (though I sympathize to some extent with this young woman), it was foolish in the extreme not to just take the job

    I speak as someone who’s taught as an adjunct since about 1990. I love to teach, and I might actually kill to be offered a full-time position ANYWHERE, EVER, by ANYONE. So . . . my sympathy is tempered by the overwhelming good fortune of ever being offered a full-time teaching job of any description. And it will only get worse. So I hope she gets another such offer, though she may not, ever.

  36. Lee1 says

    I completely agree, Carlie, that may be exactly what happened. Like I said earlier I’m not familiar with Nazareth, and they may be an extreme outlier with regard to these requests, and maybe she should have known that from her interview (maybe it should have been made more clear to her, or maybe she was just oblivious). But they would have to be an extreme outlier for their response to make any sense.
    Also,

    …so this isn’t just someone they might have to put up with for a few years who will then leave if they don’t quite match the expectations.

    Unless she was going to be hired with tenure, that’s exactly what this is. After 5-6 years her tenured colleagues, her department head, her dean, etc. will get to decide whether or not she matched expectations, and if she didn’t they can be rid of her. I guess one could argue maybe she was planning to do the enormous amount of work meeting tenure expectations for six years at a school where she wasn’t a good fit just so she could coast once she got tenure, but I don’t find that too plausible.
    That’s not to say there’s no investment on their part in hiring a new tenure-track faculty member – there clearly is (although less at a place like Nazareth that presumably offers very limited start-up and research infrastructure); but there’s a reason she’d have been listed as probationary for the next several years.

  37. sirbedevere says

    it does tell me one other thing: the job market for academics is so desperate that some universities assume they can be total assholes to their candidate pool.

    Is this really news? Not to me.

  38. Lee1 says

    The department could have been split; maybe the chair preferred another candidate and used the negotiation as a way to veto. Maybe it was the Dean who did that, or the Provost, or whoever.

    I certainly find this plausible, but if it’s the case they sure picked a fucked up way to go about sorting out their internal disagreements.

  39. says

    I think it’s worth re-emphasizing for people not in academia that, broadly speaking, there was nothing “outsized” or unheard of in the requests she made…

    I have no way of knowing what’s typical in that field, but she herself said that she didn’t expect to get most of her requests, so she was knowingly presenting them with a high-ball offer. And the roughly 20% salary increase by itself sounds quite huge to me. I wouldn’t ask for that unless I was sure that my prospective employer was desperate to fill the position and/or the supply of qualified applicants was tiny. I’m pretty sure that is not the case for recent philosophy grads looking for an academic post.

    At any rate, the department thought they were unreasonable requests, and it rubbed them the wrong way. My point is simply that there is indeed harm in asking — you risk offending the other party by implying that you’re the one wearing the pants. She was naive not to consider that. Or maybe she did but decided to roll the dice anyway.

    Also, it’s not accurate to characterize them as “demands” – it’s very clear from the entirety of her email (more than what PZ quoted) that she was making requests, not demands…

    I’m afraid I don’t see a distinction. It’s a negotiation. You ask for something because you want it, and the other party can accept, reject, or counter.

  40. Lee1 says

    I have no way of knowing what’s typical in that field, but she herself said that she didn’t expect to get most of her requests, so she was knowingly presenting them with a high-ball offer.

    Well…yeah – that’s how this works. They offer what they think they can get away with and still keep your interest, you respond with what you think you can get away with and keep theirs, and eventually you meet somewhere in the middle. Academic job searches are a big pain in the ass, and the department has a strong incentive to get an acceptance from the person they offer the position to – it’s completely normal to ask for more than what you think they’ll eventually agree to. This is why I emphasized that her requests were, broadly speaking, completely normal and not something that should have triggered a withdrawal of the offer unless Nazareth is a very odd place.

    I’m afraid I don’t see a distinction.

    At least as I understand the words “demand” and “request,” I think the distinction is pretty obvious. To me, “demand” implies that she would only accept the position of Nazareth agreed to all five points, while “request” implies she was open to negotiation. And based on her email it was quite clearly the latter.

  41. David Marjanović says

    you can’t tell students that they don’t get to graduate this year because a scheduled course required for their major isn’t offered this year

    This is done where I come from: paleobiology has so few students that some required courses are only offered once every four semesters. If you miss one of those, beg your professors to let you take the exam anyway, or you can’t graduate that year.

    Post-docs are […] essential if you’re applying for a research position.

    Most of the few job offers I’ve ever looked at required at least 3 years of postdoc experience.

    And the fact is that there could be all kinds of semi-shady shit going on that we can and will never know.

    To pick a common possibility, maybe they already had their candidate, then advertized the position because there’s a law that requires them to, and then found excuses not to accept anyone but their own candidate.

  42. mhph says

    It’s worth pointing out, since people may be reading this as more exaggerated than it is, that this request is not a request for only three course preps a year:

    No more than three new class preps per year for the first three years.

    (Emphasis added).

    Most people with doctorates in philosophy will have taught anywhere from 1 to 5 courses (or more) before graduating, either at their institution as part of their funding, or on the side to make money during summers/slow terms/while ABD/etc. They’ll also probably have worked as a TA (separate from teaching courses). Three new course preps per year would be consistent with a 4/4 or higher teaching load, as long as they weren’t all courses they hadn’t taught before.

  43. says

    At least as I understand the words “demand” and “request,” I think the distinction is pretty obvious. To me, “demand” implies that she would only accept the position of Nazareth agreed to all five points, while “request” implies she was open to negotiation.

    Let me put it this way. If there were no possibility that she’d turn down the job if one or more of her “requests” weren’t met, then what would the point be? The other party has no incentive to sweeten the deal if they know you’ll take the job anyway (if they wanted to do it out of the goodness of their heart, it would have been in the initial offer). Only with a credible threat of turning the job down do those “requests” have any force behind them. So I see no real distinction between “request” and “demand” in this context.

    It’s true of course that the department had no way of knowing which requests, if any, were non-negotiable, but that’s how things work. If she had told them upfront that she would bend on all of them, then she wouldn’t be negotiating, she’d be begging.

  44. Lee1 says

    If there were no possibility that she’d turn down the job if one or more of her “requests” weren’t met, then what would the point be?

    Well, obviously she’s not going to (and didn’t) tell them she’s willing to cave on all of her requests, even if that were her unstated position should push come to shove. In the same way, she didn’t tell them all of her requests were non-negotiable. So the credible threat to turn down the position if they couldn’t reach some compromise on her requests was pretty obviously there, and there was also clearly room for some amount of negotiation. That’s how things actually work.

  45. Lee1 says

    One other aspect of this is that women in academia (like many other fields…) are in general paid less than comparably qualified/experienced/etc. men, and this discrepancy is often explained or justified by saying that men tend to ask for more in negotiations, and those higher negotiated salaries carry through the rest of their careers. Ignoring for the moment the fact that this discrepancy could easily be remedied outside the negotiation process, what we have here is a woman playing the game the way I’m almost sure she was told to*, and her assertive but still completely reasonable negotiation approach resulted in the offer being withdrawn. Whatever the reason is that it happened, I think that sucks.

    *I and essentially everyone I know in academia that I’ve talked to about this was told that the worst they can do during job negotiations is say no to a request – once you have the offer it’s there for good as long as you’re willing to agree to their conditions. I’ve only known one person to have an offer put forth and then withdrawn, and he 1) really was making unreasonable requests and dragging the process out forever, and 2) was kind of an asshole about it (and generally).

  46. Lee1 says

    “…the worst they can do during job negotiations is say no to a request…” meaning the worst the university can do during negotiations – that was crappy writing on my part.

  47. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Wow –

    Finally someone gets to my point, exactly at the end of reading the thread and immediately b4 I can comment.

    We women are told that we are wrong to fail to negotiate salaries.
    We are told that the wage gap is our fault for failing to engage in the masculine-normal processes of self-puffery, salesmanship, and brinksmanship over wages, benefits and conditions of employment.
    We are told that in **philosophy particularly** we need to put up with hand-job jokes because, hey, it’s philosophy, and any position for which you feel you can argue is a position you should feel free to take, argue, and defend.

    And then we are told that, despite being clearly worthy of a tenure track job, we’re being cut loose because all those things we did that men – men in philosophy! – said we needed to do to prove sexism wasn’t our own damn faults, those things make women “unserious” candidates.

    Fuck you, sexism. Just fuck you.

    I have zero sympathy for Nazareth, and would have none even if she had been requesting $265k/year, and will continue to have none unless and until I see at least 3 of the 5:

    1. Philosophy as a whole and at Nazareth in particular drops it’s pretense that any argument you are willing to defend is okay present to other philosophers
    2. the Nazareth philosophy department faculty is both less than 50% men AND less than 50% women
    3. The Nazareth administration, including the philosophy higher-ups, play a prominent national role in pushing back in both political and academic realms against the persistent myth that sexism is not at play in the wage gap
    4. Nazareth releases records from all its hiring efforts over the last 10 years, showing that offers to men were rescinded because the man offered the job initiated negotiation at a rate exceeding offers to women being rescinded similarly.
    5. Nazareth releases records from the past 10 years showing that women have held the highest paying job in the university at least as many years as men have held it, and that total numbers of women faculty-years approximately equal total numbers of men faculty-years as a whole and within subdivisions (among deans, among full professors, etc.), and that within subdivisions, median pay for women exceeds that of median pay for men.

  48. carlie says

    It could be shady dealings like Chas suggested – that’s always a possibility and often so.

    That said, if it is on the face of it what it seems, my guess would be that it’s not the salary request or the maternity leave thing that got them – again, those are pretty straightforward. My guess is that they got offended by the other requests, in a “what kind of school does she think this is?” way. Possibly an element of spite in rescinding so quickly, but also a “we have no infrastructure to support those requests, and anyone who assumes we do is going to be sorely disappointed if they come here” response. Asking for things is ok, but asking for things that you are fairly certain are within the power of the employer shows that you’ve done your homework and are comfortable with the situation you’re getting into. For example, the 3 preps a year comment could (should) have been accompanied by a sample teaching schedule based on the last 2 years’ worth of college schedule publications. (e.g., “I see that there are usually 2 sections of Intro offered in the fall; could I teach both of them this year to reduce my new preps by one?”

    The older I get, the more I think that rhetoric and diplomacy should be required college classes.

  49. futurechemist says

    @52

    What makes you so sure this is sexism? 4 of the 5 requests had nothing to do with gender. Based on my academic experience at small liberal arts colleges, the 2 requests most likely to be problematic dealt with course load and start date, neither of which have anything to do with gender. There might be an element of sexism, but the more straightforward explanation is that her requests wound up offending the department / administration because of how unreasonable they were.

    @46
    While I’ve seen places forced to advertise a job even though they had already selected someone, that’s not applicable here because they certainly wouldn’t have offered her the position if they had an internal candidate they wanted.

  50. Louis says

    Carlie,

    The older I get, the more I think that rhetoric and diplomacy should be required college classes.

    Oh poo! I went to the Prince Philip* School of Diplomacy, Majoring in Dennis Thatcher Studies** and Taking the Chronic Piss.*** I’m utterly boned! ;-)

    Louis

    * Moderate racism, major offensiveness, no comebacks.

    ** “Fuck that. Where’s the gin?” (Direct quote….allegedly)

    *** That’s a lovely beard. You should be in a travelling circus.

  51. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @futurechemist, #54:

    What makes you so sure this is sexism?

    Define “this” and then re-read my #52. How confident are you that you’re at all talking about the same thing(s) I am?

    Try not to assume you know what I’m thinking and just read my post.