Don’t Ask For Nothin’

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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209 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    I was wondering if this would come up here.

    McArdle also thought that the woman in question went to far:

    Based on everything I’ve read: one and two seem like reasonable requests. Three and four do not and I am on the fence about five (I can see why the college would dislike it but it seems like they would also want her to complete her post-doc if they rang true to their mission as an academic institution.)

    You bring up really good points about how something got lost in the process and possibly on the employer’s side but James and Chris (he is a professor IIRC) would probably know more about this from an academic prospective.

    Interestingly, there was a time when I was considering going to get my PhD in Drama Literature or Theatre History but decided not to. In my heads, I had visions of teaching at a small liberal arts college or major university in the Northeast or Northwest. Even if it was in a college town, it would be a charming one like Amherst (Mass) or Ithaca (NY) or be close enough to a major city. By that point, I knew enough about the realty of the academic job market and decided against it. I would either be in adjunct hell in a cool but very expensive city and not making it or living in the middle of nowhere like Deseret State and being the only Jewish person around and not in my cultural element and decided against it.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

      I almost deferred writing about this or at least ask if someone more qualified wanted to post on it. But they I figured “Oh fish it, this is the Internet where everybody is an expert!”

      Seriously, I’d be interested to hear what Chris, James, or particularly Rose (who is presently looking in that field, I think) have to say.

      According to Heebie, 2 and 4 are reasonable but 1, 3, and 5 are problematic for a small liberal arts school. From what I gather, her requests wouldn’t necessarily be so out of bounds if she were actually applying at a different school. I don’t know how much truth there is to that.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman says:

        See below. I think my analysis of the reasonable and non matches Heebie’s.

        And it’s not about her being a woman. We wouldn’t hire a man with all those demands minus maternity leave. No way, no how.Report

      • To clarify, these were requests (points of negotiation W thought) rather than demands.Report

      • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

        What struck me most about her requests was more that they all would have been great questions to ask at her interviews. That is the time to ask what their maternity leave policy is. Not what it is for her, but what the emp handbook says about their leave policy. I’d feel pretty duped if i was Naz and we had flown this person out, but she never asked about these things then tries to negotiate them. I’m pretty blatantly a strong workers rights person, but she negotiated very poorly and failed to inquire at her interviews.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman says:


        Good point. “Demands” was careless language on my part.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        I’m not so sure. If you read a lot of “How To” guides on interviewing, they advise you to stay away from asking about things like benefits and salaries lest you seem like you are motivated by the wrong things. This is particularly true in various academia fields, where we are expected to love what we do and accept salary only when our benevolent employers insist we do. Some interviews include a conversation with HR as a standard part of the process, wherein such conversations should and do take place. But not all. And it is often seen as “unbecoming” to initiate them.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        fucking HELL. Every woman knows you don’t ask about things like maternity leave at an interview. You can ask that later — once they’re hooked. But preferably you look it up in public documents online — and if you don’t, you ask for the employee handbook so you can peruse it (without mentioning maternity leave).

        Before then, you’re signalling that you will be spending less time working than the next candidate (a guy). Even if it’s not true, it’s a poor message to send.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer says:

      #1 is not reasonable, unless Nazareth is a very well endowed school. I not only know my own college’s starting pay–we’re unionized and have a very well-defined pay scale–but I have seen the numbers on average pay at different levels (Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor) at a number of other colleges in the general category of mine and Nazareth, most recently just last month for the set of such colleges we use to benchmark ourselves. $65k is at or above the average for an Associate Prof, and none of these schools is offering new Assistant Prof hires anything like that much money. The amount is just wildly off-scale.

      Rebecca Schulman can be outraged, but she’s not the private college president trying to figure out how to pay such salaries while keeping tuition down low enough that you don’t drive all your students away.

      The pre-tenure sabbatical is also unreasonable. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s normal anywhere, from small privates to major publics.

      The maternity leave is reasonable (although unlikely to be treated as such), but not starting until next year is not. They need someone to start this fall, they advertised for someone for this fall, and she applied for that job. She’s pulling a bait and switch on them, leaving them in the lurch for next year.

      Add it up. She wants to not start for a year, then wants–through sabbatical and maternity leave–a full year off with pay before earning tenure.

      What the demands signal–rightly or not–is a very demanding person unwilling to pull their share of the load. There’s a lot of committee work to be done at small schools, because there are fewer facultu to spread it among, and generally we do more student advising than at a larger public school. Someone whose first demands are to not work as much as others indicates someone who may cause others to have to pick up the slack.

      Her preps request was reasonable. That directly affects her ability to be an effective teacher for students. There could be situations where it’s hard to make it work, but if that were all, I doubt it would be a deal killer, or certainly shouldn’t be. Again, do the math. 3 preps a year for 3 years is 9 different courses, and that’s too much to build up well that quickly. It’s a good way to burn someone out.

      She’s in the wtong, but I don’t want to attack her, because while this smacks of hubris and entitlement, I wouldn’t be surprised if she just got really bad advice from her mentor. Faculty who teach grad students at research schools generally know the culture of that type of institution, and are understandably ignorant about a place like Nazareth.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        ignorant about a place like Nazareth

        She should have listened to Levon Helm.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Well I did say seems reasonable.

        According to a google search, their endowment is close to 54 million. Not the lowest I heard but not great either.

        The most interesting thing is that they used to be Roman Catholic but now seem to have no religious affiliation. I’ve never heard of that happening to a Roman Catholic school before.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Well, Mike, she’s probably carrying the weight now.

        ND, $54 million is just barely enough these days, and it’s possible much of it is dedicated to specific purposes by the donor. I’m finding reports online that Assistant Prof salaries there are in the mid $50s, which sounds about right, and is going to include people several years in, not just new hires. What she’s asking for to start appears to be the average for Associate profs,

        Put yourself in the president’s shoes. How many demands for big pay rauses from outraged facultu are you going to get if you gave a new hire that much. They have 141 fulltime faculty. Assume they all demand $10,000 to keep it fair. That’s $1.4 million in increased faculty expenses, for a college that Forbes gave a C on financial fitness.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        I prefer to be called El Jefe myself.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Heh, that’s what a colleague of mine calls our prez (his first name is Jeffrey).Report

      • @jm3z-aitch

        I agree with your analysis. Also, from the two supposedly “tier I” research institutions I’m best familiar with, $65K is A LOT more than most starting assistant professors get, at least in history, where less than 50K is the (admittedly anecdotal) norm. I suppose it all depends on the school, and one of the “tier I” schools I’m talking about is “tier I” mostly because it says it is and treats its undergrads sufficiently poorly to resemble one.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Starting professor salaries are in the mid-50s? Yikes. I eclipsed that by the fifth year of my career. I always assumed professors made the big bucks in education.Report

      • Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        you’re in NYC, though. I’d bet a dollar that prof salaries are higher in NYC.
        [And I have a quote for a professor i used to work for, who was paid well under any of the numbers floating around here. He was diverting some of his pay to keep a valuable grad student…]Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I always assumed professors made the big bucks in education.

        You’re thinking of football coaches. (Not at places like Nazareth, of course.)Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    Schulman acts as if this happened because the applicants is being victimized as a woman with a humanities degree, but this actually sounds very familiar in my male-dominated industry. If someone seems more interested in writing papers and going to conferences than in building products, a lot of places aren’t going to hire him. Others will, but he’d better be able to justify being treated like a star.Report

    • j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      That Slate Schumann piece is really not very good and it is emblematic of what is wrong with many corners of journalism right now. It’s an example of what I call “ideology ruins everything.” Instead of either thinking critically about the situation or doing some actual reporting, she instead just decides to quote internet comments and treat the article like an undergrad Gender Studies assignment.

      Read this woman’s email. The first line is, “As you know, I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of coming to Nazareth.” Enthusiastic about the possibility is something you say when you are trying to get the job offer. Once you’ve gotten that offer, it means something completely different. It means that your acceptance is a possibility, which calls into question just how enthusiastic you are. What she did was the equivalent of giving a lowball offer on a house that you wouldn’t consider at the offering price, but might take it the sellers are desperate enough. That is not a good bargaining technique. And you can understand why the search committee might not be so eager to employ someone like this.

      And that leads to the really interesting part of the article and the situation. The woman says this:

      The candidate was shocked. “This is how I thought negotiating worked,” she explained to the Philosophy Smoker in a follow-up missive, “how I learned to do it, and, for that matter, how I think it should work: You ask about a number of perks and maybe get some of them. I was expecting to get very few of the perks I asked about, if anything … I just thought there was no harm in asking.”

      She assumes that negotiations are supposed works one way. She finds out that it, in fact, they work another way. And instead of learning from the experience, she doubles down and insists that her way is the right way. Which is insane, because, if her way of negotiation was the right way, she would have gotten the job and some of what she wanted. The failure of her negotiating tactics are self-evident. And the Schuman article just follows this woman down this weird narcissistic rabbit hole. If there is a word other than entitled to describe this mentality, I’d like to hear it.Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        This was meant be a free-standing comment, by the way, and not a response to @mike-schilling.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

        It’s not as bad as the WSJ’s “We need to risk war over the Ukraine to feel like real men” piece.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        She assumes that negotiations are supposed works one way. She finds out that it, in fact, they work another way. And instead of learning from the experience, she doubles down and insists that her way is the right way. Which is insane, because, if her way of negotiation was the right way, she would have gotten the job and some of what she wanted. The failure of her negotiating tactics are self-evident. And the Schuman article just follows this woman down this weird narcissistic rabbit hole. If there is a word other than entitled to describe this mentality, I’d like to hear it.

        You got all that outa a quick perusal of the limited evidence presented in a coupla articles? That’s a very decisive conclusion to draw, no?, and just about the most uncharitable one imaginable.

        Is there anything that could change your mind about this or would you double down on your “theory” in exactly the same way you’re criticism Shulman and applicant?Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to j r says:

        That Slate Schumann piece is really not very good

        The title’s wack, too. “The Tenure Take Back”? She wasn’t being offered tenure, just an opportunity to try to earn it.

        That’s almost certainly not Schulman’s fault, but a headline writer’s, but it still indicates something negative about the quality at Slate.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to j r says:

        Alliteration trumps accuracy. Don’t you know anything about journalism?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

        Its called Slatepitch, James. Its a misreading headline designed to attract views.Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        Is there anything that could change your mind about this or would you double down on your “theory” in exactly the same way you’re criticism Shuman and applicant?

        I’m not sure why you chose that particular text to quote. I’m not saying anything there that isn’t already established elsewhere. The applicant herself said

        “This is how I thought negotiating worked,” she explained to the Philosophy Smoker in a follow-up missive, “how I learned to do it, and, for that matter, how I think it should work…”

        You judge the effectiveness of a negotiating tactic by how well it works. This tactic failed. As I said below, there’s no need to bring in morality at this point. She should take it as a lesson in how to be a better negotiator.

        I actually have changed my mind since I wrote that initial comment. At the time, I had only read the Slate piece. After I wrote the comment, I clicked through some of the links. And after reading more, my opinion of the applicant has improved but my opinion of Schuman is worse. Putting the applicant’s words in more context it seems that she just didn’t really understand how to negotiate and ended up revealing something about herself and her preferences that led the school to rescind their offer. It’s slightly narcissistic to blame the process as opposed to yourself, but I am assuming that she is young.

        Schuman’s article looks much worse after reading the background. Again, she approached it purely from the lens of ideology. She ignored all the technical aspects of negotiation. And she failed to dig deeper and put this into any context about the differences between a small college and a research university or the set of decisions that a college hiring committee faces. I learned more from reading this comment section than I did from Schuman’s article. That’s bad journalism.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to j r says:

        What she did was the equivalent of giving a lowball offer on a house that you wouldn’t consider at the offering price, but might take it the sellers are desperate enough. That is not a good bargaining technique.

        Just never? Or do you mean just in the context of an employment negotiation, where you have to work with the people you lowballed?Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to j r says:

        brandon-berg–Apparently not.

        leeesq–There’s actually a name for it that pins it to Slate’s particular style? Seems rather damning, doesn’t it?

        jr–“You judge the effectiveness of a negotiating tactic by how well it works.”
        Exactly. How is it that anyone thinks otherwise?Report

      • Kim in reply to j r says:

        personal experience says knowing where the other party sits is key to getting good negotational leverage.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

        Just because something didn’t work (in a particular instance) doesn’t make it a bad strategy. A pick six doesn’t mean a team shouldn’t pass.

        Though I do feel comfortable saying that this was a bad strategy.Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        I recommend reading the Megan McArdle post that New Dealer linked to somewhere in this thread. She gets into addressing some of the conventional wisdom on negotiating. Lowballing is the equivalent of throwing a Hail Mary pass. Sometimes it works, but it’s a low percentage play that you use when you don’t care or you have no other resort.

        The thing about negotiating is that, despite what you see in TV and movies, good negotiators aren’t those who put the other guy’s nuts in a vice and squeeze ’til they hear uncle. Lopsided deals are not particularly good deals; they tend to fall apart.

        Good negotiators are people who can establish a rapport and demonstrate that they want to to get to a mutually beneficial outcome. Asking for too much too soon is not a very good way of signalling that you are interested in mutually beneficial outcomes. It’s a signal that you are looking to get as much as you can out of the negotiation without much regard for what the other guy wants.Report

      • Kim in reply to j r says:

        going into negotiations blind is an idiot’s tactic.
        Lowballing is fine, as is pissing the other person off, and a whole bunch of other tactics(including turning out the lights). I know a master negotiator — it’s hard work, but the most important thing to know is information. You see, every question you ask reveals what’s important to you, what you know, what you think the other person knows…Report

      • Kim in reply to j r says:

        good negotiators find a mutually beneficial transaction.
        Then they convince both sides that this is what you’re going to do.

        Sometimes one side gets really, really burned. But, in the end,
        they understand that it is actually beneficial (you don’t kill counterparties)Report

      • Pierre Corneille in reply to j r says:


        Its a misreading headline designed to attract views.

        I almost misread that and thought that you were saying “misleading.” 🙂Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    When it comes to #1, I’d like to know where she’s jumping *FROM*. If the offer was sixty-two-five, it’s not *THAT* unreasonable. If the offer was fifty-five…Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m also curious what the cost of living is like in Rochester. That would tell us more about how much $65K really is. It’s certainly a lot less where I live than where James lives.Report

      • Rochester is dirt cheap. It was a possibility for us a few years ago and it was easily the least expensive place that we have ever considered. And we’d looked at Anaconda, Montana.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        If that’s the case, the “which is more in line with what assistant professors in philosophy have been getting in the last few years” is one hell of a red flag.Report

      • greginak in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Yeah 65 k in Rochester would be doing very very well. I haven’t been there in many years and wasn’t all that impressed when i was there, but that area is cheap to live in.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        $65,000 could buy a small house with a yard in my town.i think it buys a bagel and coffee where Mike lives.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Schmears are extra.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        The former candidate wrote an addendum:

        Here’s an interesting sentence: “W also points out that her request for a starting salary of $65,000 equaled a less than 20 percent increase in proposed pay — a request she says another college offering her a job had met.”

        Pretend I’m sputtering for this next part.

        TWENTY PERCENT?!?!?

        Well, I’m glad the other college offered her a job.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Rochester is fairly typical of former northern industrial towns, so 65K is doing very well. Think of what 65K would get you in Stockton as a comparable.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Saying “These other guys offered me X; can you meet it?” is hardly sputter-worthy. Though, again, if the $65K offer was in New York City, it’s not really comparable.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Don’t even think about lox.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Mike, and Everyone:
        yes, this is exactly how fucking negotiations work — When You Have Another Offer.
        You take the one you like less, and you turn the screws pretty hard.
        The other one? Well, you try to push it… a bit. “Hey, they’re offering this… can you match it?”

        You also have to know the climate you’re working in. In a climate like this? The fact that she has multiple job offers says… something. With the number of applicants across the country, I wouldn’t be shocked if there was some amount of under the table dealing. In which case, her turning the screws might indicate that she thought she had someone by the short and curlies. If you know what I mean.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I’ve asked for a 20% raise off first offer. I’ve even gotten that (when HR had dramatically misread the tealeaves).Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I suppose it’s also fair to wonder what her would-be colleagues are making. If none of them are pulling $65,000, we’re back in unreasonable territory (and if all of them made an inflation-adjusted amount equal to that when they were hired, maybe it’s not unreasonable at all). I’m guessing, however, that if someone on the team does make that, it’s after a long time of “paying dues” and “carrying a full load” and “all that other crap” and coming in with a 20% raise is likely to be used as evidence of “salary suppression” in the department.

        I’m going back to negotiations I’ve made at my last two jobs and, yes, both times I took a deep breath and asked for more money… but my requests were around 3% rather than 20.

        I’m finding myself frowning and I haven’t even thought about 2-5 yet.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        all the uni had to do was say “Cost of Living”, and provide evidence that their pay is reasonable for the area.
        If salary was really a sticking point, she’d just take the other offer.
        But, see, it probably isn’t.Report

      • FYI, academia really doesn’t respect cost of living. If a teaching school in downtown Boston pays $85,000 for a particular field, a teaching school in rural Ohio will also pay about $85,000 for that same field.

        (And even knowing this, my wife took a job in an expensive area because expensive areas often happen to be nicer in ways that can’t be easily replicated in cheap areas.)Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        As I said elsewhere here, the average Assistant Professor (including those who’ve been there a few years, not solely new hires) at Nazareth is reported to be in the mid $50s, and the average for tenured Associate Profs (including those who’ve been there 10 or more years) is in the range of what she’s asking for. And those numbers ring very true to me based on previous research I’ve done on faculty salaries at comparable schools (when I was on our contract negotiation team).

        So she’s asking for starting pay comparable to what tenured profs there are making. Fresh PhDs (and she’s in a post-doc, so clearly she’s a fresh PhD) just don’t get that. Keep in mind, she’s still unproven. If she was a proven star with a few years under her belt, and was going to bring some prestige to the school, then it might make sense.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:


        “And even knowing this, my wife took a job in an expensive area because expensive areas often happen to be nicer in ways that can’t be easily replicated in cheap areas.”

        Do you mean in terms of the actual physical quality of things (e.g., the UES of Manhattan compared to the South Bronx) or amenities available? I know those two things are often interrelated but not directly correlated.

        We made the opposite decision… living where we could really stretch our money… and have come to regret it. We are in the process of making a change because we wrongly thought we could replicate certain things with the additional discretionary funds.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Not that it’s hypocritical for employers to make discussing salaries a firing offense and then be horrified when someone’s ideas about a proper salary are unrealistic.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I decided to use the google and searched for “salary bands nazareth college” and found this:

        (It goes rank, school name, starting salary, mid-career salary)

        283 Nazareth College of Rochester $35,100 $57,700

        I think I’m okay with concluding that #1 is not communicating “I do not have low self-esteem but I am a feisty woman who knows that she is worth a great deal!” but “I did not bother to put your college into the google.”Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Not that it’s hypocritical for employers to make discussing salaries a firing offense and then be horrified when someone’s ideas about a proper salary are unrealistic.

        A good point, in general. But not applicable in the particular case.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        As JB made quite clear.Report

      • @kazzy ,
        I mean amenities available, and to some extent culture. For us, we would like there to be theatre and music options available. We want interesting restaurants and ethnic grocery stores. If you end up in a sufficiently small place, you can’t go those things no matter how much you earn.

        Of course, I only feel this way because together we earn over $100k. We earn enough that we don’t feel like we have to cut back just because our property taxes go up (again). If we were closer to $60k, we’d perhaps benefit from living in a cheaper place despite having fewer entertainment optionsReport

  4. Slade the Leveller says:

    Request 1 is not out of line for negotiations. Salary is always negotiable.

    What really got me was the fact that #s 2-5 were all for time off. How does it look to an employer when a prospective hire immediately wants to talk about how much time away from the job he/she would like?

    I think I would have responded very much like Nazareth.Report

  5. One thing I don’t really know enough about is the request for maternity leave. Wouldn’t the university give something like that as a matter of course/policy/employment law? Again, I don’t know enough about how that works.Report

    • They would be required to give time off; they wouldn’t be required to give that much time off at the time of the employees choosing. She didn’t ask to have three months off, she asked to have an entire semester off, regardless of when the child was born.

      (Also, I am not aware how long a semester is at this place.)Report

  6. Damon says:

    I read about this at Slate and chuckled.

    1) 20% more? No frickin way. Assuming the offer was “competitive” in the first place, and by competitive, I mean consistent with going pay in the area for similiar work, in this economy, and in this field. 5-10% maybe. A bit more is you’re a star, now some newbie getting their first job.
    2, 3, 4, 5) You get what our HR policy is, period. Unofficially, maybe we can work something out if you need more when the time comes, but we’re not deviating from official policy from day one.

    Unless this gal is a “star”, there’s no reason to deviate from policy. I’ve never been able to negotiate a 20% increase in pay. I’ve gotten some minor adjustments, more vacation than new employees get, free parking, etc.

    What this woman said in her letter was “As you know, I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of coming to Nazareth. Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier.” That doesn’t read as “these are requests and are all open to further negotiation.” I read this as “I want several of these requests. Let’s agree on some”. Give my responses to all the points above, I’d pull my offer too. Plenty of folks want a job and won’t be asking for stuff we don’t deviate on policy for…Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      ” I’ve never been able to negotiate a 20% increase in pay. ”
      How good do you think your skills at negotiation are?
      I’ve managed to pull a lot past HR. Because HR is stupid, and professors know what their employees are worth.Report

      • Damon in reply to Kim says:

        You pulled 20%? details.

        I’ve always found cash the hardest to increase significantly. Vacation, parking, some benefits, yes. But salary? Nope. This assumes that the offer is generally competitive. Most of the companies I’ve worked for have provided the salary range to employees. We all know the market range for our positions, re-validated every year or so, and shared with the employees during the annual review. So yeah, 10% on going to a different company. 20%, not unless you’re moving up the food chain.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kim says:

        professors know what their employees are worth.

        No, they don’t.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        i walked a job fair, asking “how much is on the table” (because, being a job fair, the offers varied… dramatically).
        HR thought I looked really poor for my job title (it was generic), so they were really, really trying to lowball me (in fairness, they lowball everyone there).
        I was actually totally confused on the phone call (understandably) and said, “But the professor said this job came with this other salary…” (at which point the poor HR flunkie called the prof and got yelled at for screwing up royally).Report

  7. Creon Critic says:

    Her email concludes “I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others. Let me know what you think.” She obviously wanted to open a discussion. If the requests she made were so widely out of line, the institution should have at least been willing to talk to her about it. Abruptly withdrawing the offer seems wildly disproportionate to the attempt at negotiating she was making.

    I’m also firmly on her side because she’s the party with far less experience and information. Universities hire people all the time while individuals experience being hired at the assistant professor level far less often. It is the same dynamic as loan officer versus loan applicant, the person who does it day in and day out knows all the whys and wherefores. The person with less experience might require some patient explanation as to why a pre-tenure sabbatical is not an option, or why a years start date delay is not possible. It seems unreasonably harsh to me to just dump her in favor of someone else for merely trying to negotiate. I’d go so far as to criticize the university for not really making a good faith offer – why did they select her to make an offer to in the first place over other candidates?

    Lastly, I’ll note that those concerned about the larger gender wage gap and sexism implications have a legitimate complaint. The gender-based wage difference between Jennifer and John can be $3,500 to John’s favor.* The hard bargaining, essentially non-bargaining, on the part of the employer has the potential for reinforcing that gender-based wage gap from the outset.

    * Here,

    • Johanna in reply to Creon Critic says:

      I’d go so far as to criticize the university for not really making a good faith offer – why did they select her to make an offer to in the first place over other candidates?
      Why are you assuming they did not make a good faith offer to begin with?
      There is no indication that the offer she was given was anything different than offered other employees.

      The items she specified in her attempt at negotiation suggests she does in fact not understand the type of institution she applied to. She did not do her homework and that is on her. Looking for a job in academia isn’t any different than in other fields except that with jobs being scarce, it is of the utmost importance that you make an effort to understand what kind of institution you are applying to. A simple search of salaries, benefits and questions regarding sabbatical etc. during her interview could have helped her not make such assumptions. It isn’t merely a case of negotiation, it was what she asked for and how it showed a clear lack of understanding on her part as to the institution she was applying. I have worked in academia for over two decades, I wouldn’t hire her.Report

      • Creon Critic in reply to Johanna says:

        Why are you assuming they did not make a good faith offer to begin with?

        So as Chris notes below, we don’t have all the information, we only have a particular snippet of a longer email exchange – that’s a good point and I don’t have all the information.

        That deficit acknowledged, my reason is that they withdrew their offer over her attempt to negotiate. As far as her explanation and the followup InsideHigherEd post Jaybird links to, no phone call, no discussion, just the withdrawal.

        What’s more, one of the items on her list (re: maternity leave) she says is unofficial policy she wanted to get in writing. I just don’t see the huge transgression on her part. And certainly not one that warranted the withdrawal of offer email the university sent as a reply.

        Maybe part of the disconnect is that I imagine an offer to be something much firmer than it actually is. And in the world of hiring, I’ve more experience on the applicant side and virtually none on the hiring manager side. But I imagine an offer (and counter) to involve some sort of constructive dialogue.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Johanna says:

        I got the impression that it wasn’t specifically her attempt to negotiate but that the specific things she was wanting to negotiate indicated that she was looking for a different type of job than the one they were offering her. If a company is very serious about professional attire, it would be a mistake to try to negotiate the dress code. This was a teaching-focus job and her requests indicated that she was approaching it more like a research job that they feared she ultimately wanted.

        Which leads me to be somewhat sympathetic to Nazareth, though also thinking that if that was their thinking that they really need to evaluate their interview process because if this is something they fear then that needs to be weeded out during the interviews.Report

      • Kim in reply to Johanna says:

        I’ve asked about dress code, in places that really cared about it (to be fair, I’m a programmer. such strict policies are somewhat unusual). Got the standard “no, you can’t wear sneakers” — to which I replied “that sucks”Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Johanna says:


        I think it’s the whole package of asks. Collectively, they’re rather outrageous.

        I’ve been on hiring committees. I doubt I would have just cut her off like that, but I would have been really taken aback and begun second-guessing whether she really belonged at a place like my school or Nazareth.

        As I said elsewhere here, I don’t want to attack her. The email could be read as a wild sense of entitlement, but it could also be read as just a bad misunderstanding, possibly based on some really bad advice. But, she’s got a PhD, so she’s supposed to be able to do research, and it appears–though we can’t say for sure–that she didn’t. When I’ve been in the position to hire, I totally ignored any applicant who didn’t demonstrate that they’d done their research and understood what kind of place we were.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Johanna says:

        I tend to prefer stricter dress codes, but I jettisened an interview at one company where I thought the dress code was unreasonable for the job. I wasn’t going to wear a suit to a phone jockey job. However, if I’d been interviewing in another department at the same company, it would have been a huge mistake for me to peer too much into the flexibilities of their dress code. Their corporate culture was such that it was obviously very important to them and that would have been indicative that I would not have been a good fit.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Johanna says:

        they really need to evaluate their interview process

        Possibly, but this may have been a one-off that’s unlikely to happen again. They may have communicated their expectations clearly,* but she–or her advisor–thought that wasn’t good enough, or thought the other offer would give her more leverage.

        Hiring is kind of like dating, except you move in with the person after the first or second date.

        *”May” does a lot of heavy lifting there–being HR people is not in most faculty members’ skill sets, and Johanna and I could write a book on the mistakes we’ve seen over the years.Report

      • Johanna in reply to Johanna says:


        I am looking not at each single request, I am looking at the whole of the list. Even though she states, that she recognizes she may not be granted these requests, she has in effect shown through this list more than a little disatisfaction of the offer she was proposed and in turn a number of hiring red flags.
        1. Lack of understanding of institution’s actual pay scale.
        2. Demand of maternity leave in such a way that isn’t currently offered to employees which shows a distrust of the institution
        3. Asking for pre-tenure sabbatical, a later start date in addition to guaranteeing a semester of maternity leave and reduced prep add up to a question of whether she actually wants to be there.

        To ask for all of those things regardless of whether or not she figured she could get any of them does not make me interested in hiring her. Nothing in her email gives me the impression she would be a good fit. She clearly doesn’t understand the salary, and she doesn’t consider that her requests for decreased workload and early sabbatical would have an effect on her prospective colleagues all of whom if she would have been given all of these special perks wouldn’t likely be too pleased to have to pick up the slack. I’ll stick by my thoughts that the Institution made the correct decision.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Johanna says:


        As someone who theoretically could be such a candidate’s colleague, what jumps out at me is that she’s asking to get paid more than me for less work than I do, even though I’ve been here for years.

        Male or female, anyone who was actually given such a deal would have to be a hell of a charmer to avoid being a pariah among their colleagues, or the person who opened the floodgates enabling all the other faculty to get such sweet juicy enhancements of their own.Report

      • Creon Critic in reply to Johanna says:

        I take your points. I also take J@m3z Aitch’s point that PhD means capable of doing research. But I’m still left with thinking, how does she know some of the details you and J@m3z present without some sort of conversation with the people doing the hiring. I don’t see why the possibility for constructive dialogue was foreclosed by the email she sent. The university’s reply represents just such a closure of discussion.

        She writes, according to the followup InsideHigherEd piece, that she was interested in teaching. The university’s email assumes of her, by virtue of attempts to negotiate, that she isn’t. That is definitely a failure of communication that I have to lay at the feet of the university.

        To me, everything you, J@m3z, and the university email raise, could be talked about between the job candidate and the hiring managers over a coffee, on the phone, at a meeting… There was a possibility of further communication, and the way the university replied was just to shut her down entirely. The basically told her, somewhat politely, piss off.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Johanna says:

        Creon, my impression is that it wasn’t that she attempted to negotiate, but what she attempted to negotiate. Namely, her negotiations seem geared towards more of a research position. The teaching? She wanted to do less of that. The sabbatical (typically used for research)? That she wanted to do more of. Which is more amenable to a position at Deseret State than Nazareth College.

        That’s not to say that the university did or didn’t overreact, but I am pretty sure that is what they were reacting to. Not that she wanted to negotiate. Perhaps not even that she aimed so high. The aim might have required a swat-down (“It’s take it or leave it”), but my sense is that the deal-breaker was that she was wanting to ratchet down what the job was about in favor of what it wasn’t.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Johanna says:


        I want to emphasize that I don’t think the college handled it really well. The offer is made by either the President or the Dean, either of whom could just be a jerk. I just think the way they handled it was well within the bounds of acceptability. To a couple of your points:

        how does she know some of the details you and J@m3z present without some sort of conversation with the people doing the hiring.

        There’s a 99%+ probability that she was brought in for an on-campus interview. Frequently those cover a full day or two. You normally meet everyone in the department, everyone on the committee (which may include people outside the department) and some senior staff like the Academic Dean and possibly the president. There’s plenty of time to ask. If she didn’t ask, that’s on her.

        To be open, I’m a lousy interviewee. I never asked enough questions, largely because most of those details I didn’t care about very much, as I’m pretty adaptable. But the very lack of asking questions signalled to some that I wasn’t interested in the job. I could have felt sorry for myself or blamed them, but at rock bottom, it was my responsibility to ask the right questions. Same for her.

        She writes, according to the followup InsideHigherEd piece, that she was interested in teaching. The university’s email assumes of her, by virtue of attempts to negotiate, that she isn’t. That is definitely a failure of communication that I have to lay at the feet of the university.

        I wouldn’t lay it there. She should know she’s interviewing at a teaching college, and it’s her job to signal that clearly. When hiring my current colleague, the last person I cut from the pool was a guy who looked great on paper and was currently an adjunct at a liberal arts college, but who gave zero indication that teaching at such a place was really suitable to him. Just after we made our offer and it was accepted, his department chair called me to plump for him, and literally groaned when he heard what I’d done, because in fact the guy really really wanted to teach at a liberal arts school. Well, too bad for him. I had plenty of other qualified candidates to choose from who’d made their interests clear (and I in fact I got someone who is great). Should I burn my time calling up all the qualified candidates to see if they really did know what they were applying for and just happened to forget to mention it? I had one candidate with a B.A. from Columbia and a PhD from NYU, who gave no indication of wanting to get out of New York to live in a small dying industrial town in the Midwest. For all I know that person grew up in a small Ohio farm town as the ultra-bright kid, enjoyed some years in the big city, and was ready to return to the home region, but that application wasn’t worth the time I took to skim it.

        Of course that’s pre-on-campus interview. But the same principles apply. She needed to make it clear in her time on-campus that she really really really wanted to work with undergraduates first, and research second. But even if she did, the bargaining email sends a conflicting message (even with the addendum that she understands she may not get all of the requests). And the timing matters. It’s really easy for a hiring person to conclude, “Oh, when she was trying to sell herself to us she was all, ‘Oh, yes, teaching is #1,’ but now that we’ve made her an offer we see what she really wants to do.” That may not be a fair interpretation, but depending on others to interpret you fairly is a poor strategy.

        everything you…could be talked about between the job candidate and the hiring managers over a coffee, on the phone, at a meeting…

        Yes, it could have, and possibly should have. But when someone makes requests that are really really far out of bounds beyond what you can offer, do you really have any obligation to find out if they’re really serious, rather than just turning to your next best alternative? And keep in mind, it could have been very close to a toss-up between W and the next best, such that the outrageous ask itself changed the valuation and hence the ranking of them.Report

      • kenB in reply to Johanna says:

        CC, I don’t think we have enough info to blame the university for lack of communication — sometimes job candidates will say what they think the employer wants to hear, and employers know that this happens. Just because this particular woman said she wanted to teach doesn’t necessarily mean she really wants to teach — this latest request may have left an impression with them that was at odds with what she had told them earlier, and so they may have concluded that the tenor of the demands gave them a more accurate picture of her true interests than her previous statements did.Report

      • Kim in reply to Johanna says:

        yeah, that sounds about right.
        I just maintain they should have gotten back to her,
        said something like “dude, what the everliving fuck?
        This is so totally out of line.”
        (take it or leave it might also be appropriate).Report

    • Kim in reply to Creon Critic says:

      I agree with you. This is playing fucking hardball, but she’s got a different offer somewhere else.

      I’ve never had someone bitch at me for asking for 20% extra pay. At worst, they come back saying “no way in hell can we match that. Take the other offer, you’ll be happier.”

      The proper response to the lower salary that you’re offering is to point out Cost of Living.
      If possible, point to statistics saying that accepting our offer won’t limit your earning potential later (personally, I’m dubious).Report

  8. Chris says:

    I don’t think we have enough information to criticize either side. What else Nazareth was seeing, and in what context did she send the email (it’s tone is playful, which is part of what makes the terseness of the response seem so cold, I think)? Granted, I can’t imagine the pre-tenure sabbatical or the delayed starting date are acceptable anywhere, research or liberal arts, but perhaps they were offered in the playful spirit of the email.

    That said, as we know from our own Dr. Woodehouse’s experience, job seekers in the philosophy job market (and to some extent in the academic job market period) are utterly powerless. Even extremely qualified candidates will have a difficult time finding a tenure-track position at a 4-year school in the U.S., and so have very little leverage in any negotiation. Any philosophy PhD would know this, of course (which suggests to me, again, that she thought she was being playful, presumably in the context of a generally loose and informal post-offer exchange). It’s hard for me not to see this as a department hiring committee on a power trip as a result.Report

    • dhex in reply to Chris says:


      “Granted, I can’t imagine the pre-tenure sabbatical or the delayed starting date are acceptable anywhere, research or liberal arts, but perhaps they were offered in the playful spirit of the email.”

      but who in their right mind sends playful emails to someone you want a job from and quite possibly beat out 200 to 400 candidates for a shot at? save the playful for, like, not that. it certainly increases the sense that she’s jerking them around.Report

      • Chris in reply to dhex says:

        I would agree in general, but perhaps they were having a light, informal exchange.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think it was boneheaded, but she’d have to be a complete idiot to think that email was OK in the context of formal talks about her employment. And I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

      Even extremely qualified candidates will have a difficult time finding a tenure-track position at a 4-year school in the U.S., and so have very little leverage in any negotiation. Any philosophy PhD would know this, of course (which suggests to me, again, that she thought she was being playful, presumably in the context of a generally loose and informal post-offer exchange).

      I think that this assumes quite a lot. I think it’s entirely possible that she may not have understood the reality of the situation for phil. PhD’s if she in fact turned out to be one of the lucky few who receive a tenure-track/4-year offer quickly after graduating (indeed, before finishing the diss.). She may have been on the path to concluding she’s in the echelon of sought-after stars, rather than being one of the easily-replaceable hundreds of graduates any of whom really needs to be thrilled with any 4-year TT offer. (And, for that matter, for some places, she’s likely exactly that to some degree, and it seems likely to me she’ll get another comparable offer somewhere else if she hasn’t already, assuming she can maintain her anonymity. For that matter, for all we know right now Nazareth is regretting their hasty response, as your view might suggest. But there’s no reason to assume that.)

      Alternatively, she may not have understood the true implications for her negotiating position that the college’s BATNA was not much worse than hiring her at all (or so it seems). By her own telling, she was influenced by Sheryl Sandberg’s views on negotiating, which has as its motivation a social-reform rather than an individual-strategic imperative. The evidence in fact suggests that this person may not have had the best understanding of her own strategic position in this negotiation.

      The idea that she’d pursue negotiations (or *play* at pursuing “negotiations”) in a situation with this much significance for the course of her life in anything other than a completely serious way, to me, seems like one of the less likely things to presume was going on here. I don’t dismiss it entirely, but it seem unlikely. And in any case, it would be a miscalculation on the same scale as the one that would involve advancing requests this unreasonable entirely seriously.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Chris says:

      Is there any reason not to take the explanation they gave at face value? I’ve never worked at academia, but “This is a teaching college and you sound like you’re going to leave us for a research university the first chance you get” seems fairly reasonable to me.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I agree with this more the more I hear of the details.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        As a liberal arts prof, I take it at face value. I’ve thrown away dozens of applications without much more than a cursory review based on the applicant signalling–inadvertently or not–that they wanted to be at a research school.

        Would I want to risk having to make a new hire in a couple years? In a small department, would I want to risk the instability of having someone leave in a few years? I’m in a two-person department that had a lot of turnover before my current colleague and I arrived, and in the years since we’ve built up a much improved program. But it’s taken years, particularly years after we both had our feet solidly under us and weren’t still over-burdened with new class preps and uncertainty about how the institution worked.

        Having someone for only a couple years is a big ol’ wasted opportunity. You can’t require them to commit permanently, of course, but you can preferentially select those who seem to indicate greater commitment.Report

      • Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        wow. a two person department. I didn’t know such things existed.
        I feel dumb now. Is that sort of normal at your school?Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        1 person departments exist, too. The accrediting agencies are beginning to frown on it, though. So what normally happens is you stick that one person in another department, whatever the best logic may be. For example, our one-man Economics department primarily serves the Business major, and may end up getting pushed into there (although I’d prefer to have him in Political Science). Our Religion/Philosophy department is a 2 person Philosophy Department combined with a 3 person Religion Department (although the Phil/Rel pairing is a very old and common one, despite the two being quite different).

        So it’s not uncommon at small schools. It makes the faculty stretch more, as you have to cover more topic areas so you can provide better coverage of the field for students. That’s why our Economist is happy to have two of my courses cross-listed so they count for the Econ major.

        Some departments are bigger. In part that depends on how many students they serve, but in part it also just depends on history and inertia. It’s easier to replace faculty who have left/retired/died than to budget for a new faculty line or deal with the unhappiness at eliminating a faculty line in one department to make it available to another department. Typical turf-battle stuff that you’ll find in any organization.Report

      • Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        how many undergrads does your institution serve?Report

      • “This is a teaching college and you sound like you’re going to leave us for a research university the first chance you get” seems fairly reasonable to me.

        Agreed. And I think it’s another reason that the moralizing is unwarranted. It sounds like this simply wasn’t a good fit.Report

      • @vikram-bath Or so they thought. If we take W’s word for it, they were actually wrong on that. If this is true, a little more diligence and probing may have been worthwhile. Or if it was a coin toss between W and another candidate, maybe not. (Or a bunch of other specific circumstances that might have been in play.)Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Somewhere around 1600, with our current goal being, I think, 1800 (and if we get there, we’ll set a new, higher, goal). That’s up from 900 a decade ago (which was down from around 1500 or so a couple decades before). We’re in a growth pattern right now, which is good since a lot of colleges like mine aren’t going to survive the next 2-3 decades, but in the last couple years that pattern has stagnated. It’s a tough business, as we’re trying to improve our student academic profile at the same time we’re trying to bring in more students.Report

      • Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        wow, the difference between research and teaching institutions is that great?
        my alma mater has a little less than 4x your students, but I don’t think any department is that small… (or even really “equivalently small” — except maybe statistics, which in any other school would be in math). [I must admit, my alma mater structures some departments weirdly, though…]Report

      • If we take W’s word for it, they were actually wrong on that.

        I’m going with the original e-mail she wrote to the school, which was the information the school had at the time, not what she said well after the thing became a matter of public debate. The original e-mail says in slightly different wording “I think you gave me a lowball offer that is totally out of line with what I need to be able to come and happily work for you.”Report

      • @vikram-bath That still brings me back to what they thought. What they thought might be reasonable given the information that they had. It might have even been accurate, W’s protestations notwithstanding. But it isn’t uncontested.

        Also, I did interpret the introductory paragraph very differently than you did. I took it as “I’m considering your offer. Here are things that would take me off the fence:”Report

  9. dhex says:

    the really odd part that most folk seem to have missed is that she did this over email instead of calling. at the very least presenting some of these requests – most of which are fairly out of bounds with the kind of school that is – in a conversation rather than as a list may have helped.

    she needs to go punch her mentor in the face for suggesting this was an ok way to proceed with negotiations, presuming they signed off on it.Report

  10. Michael Drew says:

    I think it’s clear that a number of patently unreasonable requests made their way into the email. i don’ think the issue is establishing that. I think the issue is establishing what the baseline should be for a response from an institution receiving such requests from someone they’ve tendered an offer to. Is the withdrawal of an offer a reasonable baseline for a response to unreasonable requests for terms of employment? (Reasonableness being a separate question from whether that response remains an institution’s prerogative, which I think it clearly does.)

    We don’t have enough information to conclude their response was unreasonable, because any number of factors we don’t know about may make it so. But I would say that the best we can do is establish, working from the information we have, whether the baseline we would set, working with that information alone, would be that rescinding the offer is the right response to such requests – or do we think there would need to be further reasons to justify such a response?

    My (totally uninformed) sense is that what would have been appropriate (again, based just on the information we have) would have been responding with an email that essentially sent the same message that rescinding the offer did – but that maintained the offer on a take-it-or-leave it basis.

    Essentially, they could have said just what they did – that her requests suggest her expectations are more in line with a different kind of institution and that, on that basis, they are going to nip any negotiations with he in the bud. This would be because they now felt that to be a fit for their school, a significant attitude adjustment would be necessary on her part. (To Will’s point, this could be softened by a slight nostra-culpa indicating that clearly there was some important information that they failed to convey during the interview process). To underscore how much she mis-stepped with the requests they could reiterate that they would have been willing to entertain negotiations around reasonable requests, but that, because of the misconception of the situation exhibited with these requests, the offer was now extended on a take-it-or-leave it basis.

    That’s my initial reaction to the withdrawal of the offer: that the need to signal a real misstep on her part was very reasonable, but that the actual withdrawal was an overreaction. It makes me wonder on what basis they arrive at a conclusion that they want to hire any given prospect, if just some misguided negotiation requests lead them to a complete 180 on that decision. Ultimately, as Will says, the issue here is a failure of communication, and one that, at some level, the school is likely to have had at least some role in allowing to occur.

    All that being said, the prerogative remains the school’s, and there’s every reason not to dismiss the distinct possibility that the baseline for them in a situation like this was in fact not to rescind the offer, but that unreported facts about this particular situation led them to take that course.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …I’ll also add that this take is consciously meant to be about as charitable to the applicant as I can possibly be, because to me it seems she’s in a position that deserves charity – i.e., perhaps even unknowingly, having practically no leverage in the transaction. It’s very easy to misstep when your negotiating adversary (and, yes, until you sign a contract and join their org., they’re your adversary) is very close to indifferent between reaching terms with you and reaching terms with any of twenty other candidates. She should be expected to understand that, but given that they decided they wanted her there on a review of her qualifications, I think she should be given every chance to come to understand her position in the relationship.

      Purely as an internal response to the email, I completely understand the college questioning at that point whether they still want to make her a permanent part of their faculty. It just seems to me that, having extended the offer, the baseline should be that the response to her should be to try to clarify expectations and give her a chance to demonstrate an understanding that the email indicated that she didn’t grasp them, and that she now does.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …I also didn’t realize she in fact had another offer in hand, I guess?

      That changes things significantly from her perspective obviously. Was everything she was asking for in line with what another place was actually offering? If so, she’s doing little more that communicating her BATNA to NC (albeit in a somewhat unclear way – but that’s what you do in negotiations). I don’t see anything wrong here if she was basically saying, “Look, here’s what Waterloo State is offering – you’re gonna have to match it (which I’d like you to do – I’d rather be with you, but I’m not offering a discount), or see ya.” That’s just (relative) transparency, which NC actually shouldn’t have any problem with.

      OTOH, if she was “fishing” as it were – falsely playing each side off the other, suggesting she had terms offered from one that she in fact didn’t, then that’s just a very high-risk strategy that she deserves to have result in the forclosure of options that she may or may not care about losing.

      I guess either way, the whole notion that she needs charity here I think falls apart given that she had another offer in hand, whatever it was. She took her two offers and (as Sheryl Sandberg counseled), negotiated riskily, with semi-predictable results. And if how NC in fact felt was that she seemed to have expectations in line with a career track they just don’t offer to their professors, saying so, and concluding it wasn’t right to bring such a candidate on, seem like just the right thing to so, actually.

      So with the modified understand that she was in the significantly different position of fielding multiple offers, I don’t think either side really deserves criticism here, unless she deeply regrets losing the NC option from among her portfolio of options, in which case she has only herself (and maybe Sheryl Sandberg) to blame.Report

      • Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Yeah. I still think it’s mildly unprofessional to simply revoke the offer like that.
        Still, asking her to rescind the unreasonable demands, and either take it or leave it within a few days is well within reason.Report

      • I’m on the fence Kim, because the college clearly has an interest in not hiring her if she’s revealed herself to be unsuitable. I agree it would have been reasonable to reiterate their terms and the reasons her requests were, frankly, nuts. But ultimately, they have to avoid making a career-length mistake with a hire however it is necessary (and legal and ethical by strict measure) to do so. But that’s also what they have an interview process in place to prevent.

        So I think they probably had to do this, but it doesn’t reflect well on them to have done it this way IMO, and frankly I think they deserve her making it public like she has.Report

      • Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I don’t think they /had/ to do this. I think they could have elicited
        some concessions on her part, even. It’s a negotiation, after all.

        “You are giving us some cause to doubt that you are really serious about this hire. Because of this, for us to continue to tender our offer, here are some revised terms: XYZ are off the table, for obvious reasons, but in order for us to give you a 6month maternity leave, we are going to ask that you take a heavier courseload in the terms bracketing it.” (as a negotiating tactic, one might say that the heavier courseload is general practice at the college).Report

      • Kim,

        So are you saying come back in even under their initial? Or just short of her asks? I’m not sure her reaction to that would or should have been any kinder than to the withdrawal.

        Ultimately, all I am saying is that if what she asked caused them in good faith to feel like bringing her on would be truly bad for the institution regardless of the terms, I think at that point they had to rescind. That doesn’t mean they hadn’t royally fished up the evaluation process and don’t deserve for it to be brought into the open, however.Report

      • Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’m saying that it’s possible for them to bend, while not making exceptions, on what they can bend about. While doing so, it is possible to be a bit hardnosed, and extract some concessions.

        I also favor the negotiating strategy of “get the other person to storm off” — she’d be less likely to complain that way, particularly if you weren’t directly reducing her salary (which is uncalled for, anyway).Report

  11. Vikram Bath says:

    I find some of the moralizing I’ve seen on both sides amusing. There is nothing morally wrong with asking for things. Perhaps she could have used a milder tone and perhaps she could have done it over the phone, but she should ask for the things that would make the job something she could consider taking.

    On Nazareth’s side, they got a list of requests that were way out of proportion to their expectations. Any way you slice it, a ~20% pay bump and a full paid year off along with the other requests indicates that she is in a totally different league. It’s as if they went into a BMW dealership looking for a new one for $20,000. You just have to go to the first window to know you are in the wrong place. You don’t have to bother with invoice prices and holdback and dealer incentives because you are nowhere close. It’s totally reasonable for them to take their embarrassing little offer and back away.

    Of course, there is the possibility of finding common ground. Perhaps if they tried really hard they could meet one or two of the requests, and perhaps that would have been enough for her, but then you’d be in a situation where you know you just barely got the candidate, and they wanted a lot more than you were able to give them. In general, you want to hire people who feel like they got a great deal and will plow that feeling back into their jobs, not people who feel like they are working at a discount and will thus give you a discount effort.

    At any rate, it seems like she had another offer. So, she actually did do the right thing in asking for more. She could afford to have the offer rescinded, so she was right to take the risk. It didn’t pay off, but that doesn’t mean anyone did anything wrong.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      I’m fully in agreement that moralizing is out of place here. And given that she had another job offer, it makes perfect sense to negotiate. But I think you let her off too easily. She made demands that were clearly outside what she could reasonably hope to get–that’s not morally wrong, but it’s strategically wrong, a stupid mistake.

      If someone walks into the BMW dealership, sees a price tag in the range of $30-40k+, and says, I’ll give you $20k, they have make a mistake that’s worth a bit of not-so-gentle criticism.

      When I was negotiating, we floated a proposal to raise faculty salaries by ~9 1/4% over three years. That turned out to be a huge negotiating error. That’s less than half the increase she was asking for, and we weren’t demanding extra time off (referencing the early sabbatical; the maternity leave request is fair).Report

      • I’d be willing to say that if the offer she received was so far removed from what she desired, she should have just turned it down rather than try to negotiate for such a drastically different offer than the one she received.Report

      • When I was negotiating, we floated a proposal to raise faculty salaries by ~9 1/4% over three years.

        A graduate student employees union I was a (reluctant) member of threatened to strike once because the university “wouldn’t even consider” its pay raise…..8.5% a couple years after the financial crash.

        I remember objecting to the union’s full time organizer that 8.5% was too high, and she gave me the usual story of “we have to demand more than we want in order to get it.” But at a time when people both in the university and out were lucky to get 2% or 3% raises, if any raises at all, the 8.5% demand, in my opinion, was out there. (I don’t know if it was to be spread over 3 years or all at once.) Fortunately, there wasn’t a strike.Report

    • j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      You are right that the moralizing has no place in this conversation. However, both sides definitely did something wrong.

      The candidate adopted a poor negotiating posture and lost her offer as a result. She would benefit from learning better negotiating skills.

      The hiring committee misread the applicant and made an initial offer to a candidate that would likely not have been a great fit. They would benefit from improving their interview process.Report

      • Vikram Bath in reply to j r says:

        If the candidate didn’t need the offer, then I don’t think she made a mistake. If she would have preferred going to Nazareth over wherever she ended up, they I agree with you that she made a mistake.

        The hiring committee misread the applicant and made an initial offer to a candidate that would likely not have been a great fit.

        I would revise this to “The hiring committee misread the applicant and made an initial offer that ended up not being competitive.” I didn’t get from her demands that she didn’t care about teaching.Report

      • Kim in reply to j r says:

        To be fair, this is a person with another offer.
        Said person might have leaped at this job, had
        it been her only opportunity.Report

    • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      I got a question:

      Seeing as how it is pretty obvious that she took too hard of a negotiating position with NC (whether she realized it or not) and they opted to cease further negotiations, I have to ask:

      Why do we care?

      People screw up negotiations all the time, in all sorts of situations. It happens. We learn & move on.

      I get the whole “Women don’t negotiate the same as men & thus lose out on potential pay & benefits”, but even men know not to negotiate harder than the other party can hope to accommodate. I think James & Johanna are right, she either followed bad advice, or failed to do her homework with regard to the institution she was negotiating with.

      Or she had a very solid offer from somewhere else & decided over-reach was a safe bet (as it appears to be the case).

      But again, why do we care?

      I don’t even mind that the candidate complained about it (although calling out the college specifically is bad form IMHO). Hell, I’ve been known to bitch loudly when my negotiations fail. I do think the Slate author is over-reacting a lot, given the lack of information she has, which really the only reason this is getting any play.

      Oh, wait, I know! We can learn from this! This is a solid example of failure to investigate & over-reach. You have to know your target. You have to know their limits & craft your requests close to those limits. If you are going to ask for a lot*, you need to be OK with negotiations failing in a hurry. NC is under no obligation to entertain further negotiations, especially if they have a ready supply of candidates with more reasonable expectations of what the school can offer.

      *Exception: You have video of the college president snorting coke off a hooker’s ass – then you can shoot for the moon & be surprised when negotiations fail.Report

      • Well, she blogged about it, or made it public in some other way. the academic community took notice and was apparently pretty surprised by the move, i.e. rescinding the offer, even in the context of whackadoodle requests like this. It was apparently a shock to many in that world, this withdrawal of a teaching offer by a college in response to negotiating requests. I think people in that world care because they’re not used to that reaction from colleges, and… it’s their world after all. It’s news.

        And the rest of us care because when people in an employment (or other) market has a sudden adjustment to their own perceptions of the prevailing norms in their own market, its news to some extent. Why do we care about a thousand little business developments reported every day in the business sections of a thousand papers across the country? Because we follow what goes on in markets for everything and care to some extent.

        That’s why we care.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        If nothing else, it is a story, a thing that happened that tells us something about the world. Plus it has the (evident) advantage that each of us can find in it whatever lessons we wish. Which is just the best kind of story.Report

      • Those are both fantastic answers.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Perhaps I should clarify – why are people getting up in arms over this, especially given the imperfect information we have? This feels like the outrage machine getting revved up again.

        I can see this story as an interesting tale in negotiating strategies and preparation, but absent anything even remotely hinting at villainy, the narrative of a woman trying to negotiate like a man & getting shut down seems invented out of whole cloth. Especially given the information James, et. al have provided.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        your amusing exception might not be so far from the truth, in this day and age.
        She managed to score two offers? I find that surprising, and perhaps a little telling.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Do you think that the college thought (even in the back of their minds): “What a bitch!”
        Do you think that they’d have completely stopped negotiations with a guy making similar demands?

        I think both sides showed remarkably poor negotiating skills. And that the college ought to be blamed for that more than the poor innocent PHD. Because the college has more experience.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist — Is this outrage machine perhaps in your own mind?

        I mean, if you kick over enough rocks I’m sure you’ll find a Tumblr post saying something over the top. But so what? The conversation here seems pretty level, even my those of us inclined to take her side.Report

      • You’re right that the conversation here has been wonderfully level. To be fair, Schuman was less so and I linked to her in the OP.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist — And I’ll add, there is plenty of social science that shows that gender always plays a role. Furthermore, that same science shows that this role is often invisible, insofar as subjects do not perceive their own measurable sexism. (I recall a recent study that showed two facts: 1. women were given less time to speak in the classroom, and 2. when they were given more than 20% of classroom time, subjects perceived the women as being unfairly advantaged. These subjects included both women and men.*)

        I have no specific evidence that gender played a role in this college hiring case. It is possible that this was the impossibly unlikely one time in human history where it did not. Fine.

        * And sorry I don’t have a link on this study. I’ve Googled around and have not found it. If anyone here does have a link, please share.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @will-truman — I’ll confess I didn’t actually read the linked articles carefully.

        I don’t need to. I could probably write it from a fill-in-the-blank script.Report

      • @veronica-dire @mad-rocket-scientist

        There has been enough outrage about this story that when I saw there was going to be a conversation about it here too, my gut instinct was “Oh great, here we go again.” yes, people here have been fairly level. This is good. But the outrage machine is not imaginary in this case. (Both people outraged by the imagined narrative of a woman being screwed over for negotiating, and people outraged by the imagined narrative of a woman claiming to be screwed over for being a woman instead of accepting responsibility for fishing up. LOTS of outrage out there.)

        Also, there is no study anywhere that says gender ALWAYS plays a role. As we all well know, studies don’t do that. They talk about percentages and correlations and statistical likelihoods, not about how if gender was not in play it would be the one impossibly unlikely time or whatever.

        I understand the anger (do I ever), but I think in this case hyperbole weakens the argument rather than strengthens it. Because it is precisely the insidious, uncertain, often-hard-to-pinpoint edge cases that in any particular instance may not even BE part of the group that, when added up into the whole giant pile of crap, add up to a systematic problem. Their fuzziness helps them to persist, so claiming they aren’t fuzzy really doesn’t help with that.

        Of course, seeing the biggest systematic problem at the fuzzy edges (not saying either of you do, just saying the outrage machine seems to) is a denial mechanism in itself. I wish fifty percent of the energy I’ve seen spent by academics on this article in the last week went to shutting down the cultural enabling of the really egregious sexual harassment – the sort of thing I’ve heard about or observed in person more than a dozen times, not just in academia, but also other traditional bastions of egregious behavior like law firms and IT departments. But all that stuff tends to come with a boatload of social stigma that means I don’t even want to share the stories I know for fear it would rebound negatively on the people who were harassed. And so, the worst of the very most awful stuff simmers and simmers in the minds of those who know about and resent the things that happen, and one result of all that simmering is that borderline situations like this tap into a deep well of rage for a lot of women – the kind of range that leaves some people on the sidelines with a furrowed brow, saying, “but how do you even know?”

        I don’t know. People claiming to know who weren’t there are wrong (and may be wrong even if they were there, such is the nature of life). In this case, my personal hunch is that everyone involved was dumb and the whole situation points to some of the broader issues I have with academia in general.

        But given my experiences with the culture of SLACs and what I’ve heard from my peers, it does seem entirely probable that a male with the same demands would have been treated as admirably brash and cheerfully admonished that he could take or leave the original offer, by the same committee that cut off communication with this woman. What makes me angry is not whether or not this happened to THIS woman – I have enough to work on in my own life without taking on the frustrations of anonymous strangers who will be making twice what I do by this time next year. I’m angry about just how completely I’ve been exposed to the probability that her claims are true, just by going to college, working in one, and knowing lots of professors and other college employees. I’m angry about what that means about what our students are learning (and make no mistake, this stuff trickles through even when it’s not overt). I’m angry because I’m an idealist and I want higher education to be the ivory tower I thought it was when I followed my college professor grandma around, back when I was a little kid and she was my hero.

        And if I really pay attention to how angry I am at these things, I Do Not Get Anything Done. So it’s a lot easier to sigh, be annoyed, and wish the outrage machine had better targets. And then do what I can to be part of improvements when there seems to be a chance for them to occur. Which, you know, isn’t a whole lot. Probably adds up to about as much as writing long angry comments on the internet would.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        But again, why do we care?

        Because of inequality of power, dude. It’s always a story, especially here at the OT.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Yes, the outrage is mostly in the Slate article & other outrage factories, not here.

        I have no specific evidence that gender played a role in this college hiring case.

        And therein lies the rub. Absent evidence that the search committee applied a dubious double standard, we should grant them the benefit of the doubt that they at least made every reasonable effort to be sexually unbiased. There are lots of bits that would toss up red flags over this: was the committee all male, or was it a good mix? did the committee as a whole retract the offer, or was it a singular decision? Etc. ad nauseum. We plain don’t have enough information to make any kind of assumption that this was little more than a case of a young person who is bad at negotiation (or was given horrible advice).

        And bringing forth the specter of “there is plenty of social science that shows that gender always plays a role” is right up there with “race always plays a role”, neither does much to inform this conversation. Such revelations are useful for personal introspection & evaluation (Am I making this decision/acting this way because of my built-in biases with regard to a specific sex/race? Perhaps I should examine that.); however, absent evidence, it’s like blaming the sun for your house catching on fire (yes the sun is hot & it could be the reason your house burned down, but perhaps there is a more obvious factor at play).


        Let’s look at this another way. How could W have made her requests in a fashion that would have been more likely to result in a negotiation:

        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 on average, across the US..
        2) What is the college’s policy with regard to maternity leave? (leave policies can be flexible, but generally on a case by case basis & organizations are loathe to put any such exceptions in writing before the fact)
        3) A pre-tenure sabbatical at some point during the bottom half of my tenure clock. explain why this sabbatical would be in the interests of the college to grant
        4) No more than three new class preps per year for the first three years. Nothing to add here
        5) A start date of academic year 2015 so I can complete my postdoc. I understand this is asking a great deal but… (include explanation)

        In short, part of a good negotiation is to convince the other party that your demands/conditions/requests are in their best interests. If you are just going to slap down a laundry list of requests, with no attempt to explain or convince (or not above mentioned compromising photo/video), then the other party will likely be inclined to see such as playing the entitlement game & decide you are no longer worth their time.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @maribou +1

        Actually, +100Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist — I think you are missing the part where I am trying to steer the conversation away from the facts of this case, which we do not know, and to the broader issue of women in hiring.

        You know, since we all agree we do not know the facts here, yes? So then our choices are speculation or else to pull back the camera and look more broadly. I am doing the latter. (Or else we could all shut up, I guess. But I seldom do that.)

        The problem I see here is this: this event is happening as part of a bigger discourse, which involves how women negotiate the conditions of their jobs. Recently a study was released (as usual, no link) that showed some of the wage gap comes from the fact women negotiate less aggressively than men. The reasons they negotiate less well are easy to understand, and I have alluded to them elsewhere in this thread. As far as I am concerned this is rather uncontroversial.

        In response to this stuff, there has been a lot of talk in feminist circles lately about how to improve the negotiations skills of women. (This plays a big part in the “Lean In” stuff. Plus there is the “No Bossy” thing that has been getting play in the meme-sphere. It seems related.)

        Anyway, this is a thing.

        And now this story comes along.

        Look, none of us know the details. But it is impossible not to see the subtext: a women tried to drive a hard bargain, negotiate hard, one might be tempted to say negotiate like a man — and whether you like it or not this is the subtext — and saw it backfire in her face.

        There is going to be a response to this. A conversation will emerge, and it will take contours far beyond this woman and this school.

        The bad side: now women have another example of why not to negotiate like a man, to shut up and accept.

        Is this rational? Probably not. But when you are searching for a job, you are dealing with much stress and fear, and hidden rejections, and self doubt, and this is hard for everyone. People are often not their most rational during a job hunt.

        Big clue: this is harder when you are a woman. And this fact guides my sympathies.

        On the other hand, perhaps the dreaded “outrage machine” will be somewhat successful here. Maybe. It could happen. If so, perhaps other colleges would think twice in the same case, to at least talk to the woman before just saying no. They might feel out what she was thinking, is this really a hard line?, would sitting down with her get to a resolution. That would be really nice.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Veronica, I’m not going to get into a long debate here, but follow your own advice and listen to the person who has the lived experience. If I was making a tenure-track offer to a guy who responded by asking for as much money as I made only after more than a handful of years in the job, a delayed start date for a job advertised as starting at a particular time, and a pre-tenure sabbatical, I’d kick the asshat to the curb.

        You just don’t recognize how that set of demands plays to a faculty member at a small college. It screams, “I want more money for less work, so you all will have to pick up the slack.” Fuck that. A person’s gender doesn’t make that either more or less irritating, because it’s maximally irritating from the get go.

        If that makes women more hesitant to bargsin, or see it as representing a particular problem for women, they’re reading it wrong and taking the wrong message from it.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @jm3z-aitch — That’s fair enough. Myself, I’m unlikely to ever be in the academic job market, so the specific ins and outs there aren’t central to my point.

        But it seems that everyone is now finding a hill to plant their flag, for the woman!, for the school!, yay team! I’m trying not to talk about that.

        My last actual job search was many years ago, and it took me eight months to land a shit job, a really bad job. No, really bad. Worse than you think. Literally abusive.

        At the time, I was searching as a “male” (or so I appeared to people). Since then I’ve been lucky and landed jobs through networking, still presenting as male. But maybe where I am now is as high as I can go on that path. My network is not limitless.

        Will I ever do as well again, as a woman? If I decide to leave where I am, because I’m not totally happy at this gig, what will the search be like? What will my salary be like? Will someone trust me with real problems, the hard stuff that I want to work on, the material I worked my ass off to learn?

        Is right now the high point of my career, because I have chosen to live the rest of my life as a woman? The statistics on this stuff are pretty grim.

        But really, I don’t want to lay my narrative on this woman’s case. I really don’t want to do that. My concerns are different.Report

      • Well, a trans woman friend of mine managed to get good jobs in Boulder and then conservative Fort Worth, so it’s possible! (A voice of hope, not a voice to minimize the specific and significant hurdles you face.)Report

      • @maribou

        I’m not sure I agree with every single thing you wrote in that comment, although I agree with most of it. But that comment and the thoughtfulness with which it was written is representative of why you’re among my favorite commenters here.Report

      • Chris in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        You just don’t recognize how that set of demands plays to a faculty member at a small college.

        Honestly, I suspect that the two demands you mention — delayed start and an extreme amount of time off pre-tenure — would have been deal killers just about anywhere, small college or big university, humanities or sciences or whatever, for anyone who’s not a huge, well-established name in the field. Hell, at a research university, she’d have been told, “You realize that if you take that much time off pre-tenure, you won’t get tenure.” And if a department is hiring junior faculty, rather than established senior faculty, it’s probably because they need someone. Delaying the start, when there are probably at least a couple other candidates who made it far enough in the hiring process, is probably a deal-killer by itself.

        If she had just asked for the raise and the maternity leave (which, it seems, was already informal policy anyway), she’d probably have been told, “How ’bout a third of the raise you’re asking for, and of course you can have maternity leave,” and negotiations would have commenced.

        Don’t get me wrong, the response could have been different: something along the lines of, “Are you crazy? These demands display a complete lack of understanding of the position we’re hiring you for. Perhaps “this is not a good fit for you,” and then give her a chance to convince them she really is a good fit for them. But who knows what else was going on in their interactions, or in their hiring process, that might have led to the response she got? Not any of us, that’s for sure.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        There are companies, good ones, that care far more about ability than the packaging it comes in. Is it OK if I send you an e-mail to discuss this?Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mike-schilling — My point is not that it is impossible for women, cis or trans. Instead, my point is that it is more difficult for us. Furthermore, this difficulty matters, insofar as small changes in opportunity can have dramatic effects on outcome. Which should be easy for you to understand, given your understanding of math and thus, I assume, an understanding of dynamic systems.

        So, yes, there are good companies, but they have to be looking for someone with my skills exactly when I am looking for a job. And even if they are, I might be entertaining one or two interested companies when a similar man is entertaining a half dozen. That makes an enormous difference come negotiation time.

        And the hiring managers aren’t stupid. They know this, and it is reflected in salaries. The disparity is measurable.

        Look, I work in tech now, and I see how things work in my company. They are “committed to diversity,” and it is more than lip service, but still, there remain few high ranking women engineers.

        Okay, so actually I am one of the high ranking engineers, maybe one of the top five women, in a company with 1000+ employees. It’s respectable. But see, I cheated! I got promoted to this position when they thought I was a dude.

        I’m not sure what kind of further promotion track I have. They do seem to be promoting more women lately, and we now have two women directors in engineering. So there is hope.

        But this is the result of action and organization by women. This is the result of feminism, which is why I keep pushing.

        Feel free to email:

      • veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @will-truman — I know a few successful trans women. My point, as I said to Mike, is that it is harder for us. And life is hard enough.

        That said, your anecdote brings a thought to mind: I notice that men, particularly white men, are more prone to favor individual stories of success, the particular strategies of a singular person. Contrastingly, women and minorities are more likely to see these things in terms of identity and group solidarity.

        These are not absolutes; they are tendencies.

        I submit this to you: these tendencies are rational. The reason they are rational is simply that women and minorities experience prejudice as a group. We are accustomed to being denied opportunity by the mere fact of who we are (and this is not an illusion; the statistics back it up), and thus we find strength in collective action. So a story about how this one person succeeded will perhaps be received differently by women and minorities.

        I think for men to understand how women and minorities think about these things, a fair degree of interest, hard work, and empathy is required.

        Randall seems to have done that work:

      • Understood. As I said, my comment was not intended to dismiss our minimize the struggle you face.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I understand your desire to address the larger issue, be it sexual bias in hiring or negotiating. I even agree that it is an important topic, one that women need to address as equally as men (how many women see Hillary as bitchy, even though she’s probably more competent a political operator & administrator than half the big men in Washington). My resistance is not to root for the college, but to discourage using this case as a rallying cry for an issue.

        Too often I see people grasp onto situations that are far too foggy and use them to beat the drums, only to later find out that situation was not even remotely representative of the larger issue. Which generally causes people who didn’t really care before, but who maybe started paying attention, to emit a collective sigh at the misplaced concern/outrage, and to be more jaded the next time the issue is raised. It’s crying wolf at a shadow, and with the media, et. al. constantly trying to stoke the outrage furnace at every little thing, people are getting mentally/emotionally exhausted.

        In short, this is something I care about (partly because my wife is seriously starting to look for a career change, and being almost 40 she is worried about being able to pull it off because she is a middle-aged woman who doesn’t look like Christie Brinkley). I want other people to care about this. I want them to get at least try to make the change in themselves, but they won’t do that if they focus on an examplar that is false, because the next time it shows up, they won’t have the energy to care.Report

  12. dragonfrog says:

    I think that the omission of the sentences immediately preceding and following the list really slants this discussion. From the linked article:

    Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier:
    I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others. Let me know what you think.

    She’s clearly not asking for all of the items on the list – she’s providing a list of things from which the college could select a few deal-sweeteners, as they are able.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to dragonfrog says:

      Yeah, if I had it to do over again I would have included all of the contents of both emails.Report

      • Not too late for that.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

        Not too late for that.

        Man, I wish I had the power to edit my comments after I hit submit!Report

      • Stillwater:

        Ask for it.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

        It’s a blessing but a curse if abused, as you lose a degree of trust that what your comment reads now is substantially similar to what you originally wrote.

        I typically only use this power to clean up a glaring typo or a glaring lack of clarity, and in the second instance I typically prefer to do a follow-up comment clarifying myself, and even then only if I catch the error myself very quickly after hitting “post.” I never use it to change the substance of my comment.

        I would not be opposed to the idea of an informal rule of “Don’t substantively edit any comments other than to replace the very rare but unbelievably abusive comment with corrective poetry” which AFAIK is close to the prevailing practice anyway.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

        MD, I’m happy to not have it, actually, and my comment was pointed in the other direction. You post it, you live with it.Report

      • Well, I adjust my comments for clarity of meaning where I think it’s needed (obviously sometimes that’s a hopeless endeavor) if I realize the meaning is unclear, or, especially, opposed to my real meaning, so as to keep the subsequent thread on the point I meant to make. As a predictive matter, I’m going to keep doing that until there’s a rule against it (just knowing myself, regardless of whatever intention I may be prevailed upon to enunciate).Report

      • you lose a degree of trust that what your comment reads now is substantially similar to what you originally wrote.

        Count me as untrustworthy then! I update and then include at the bottom a note that discloses what I updated. (I only do this for original posts, not comments though.)

        And I actually don’t think it necessarily relates to trust in the way you claim. If a post is supposed to be a representation of your views, then arguably you would be remiss in not updating it to better represent your views.

        In the case of this post, I would edit it if I were Will (and disclose the edit) because it is easy for the careless reader like me to get the impression that she had asked for all the things. I still find the way she did it problematic from a negotiating perspective, but including the lines dragonfrog mentions would only increase clarity. I would view that as the trust-increasing move.Report

      • ..And frankly, I wish that’s what others would do. I’d rather be able to assume that, within 10, 15 minutes (or less) of a comment by a League member posting, whatever clarifications are needed for that comment to reflect their meaning will have been appended *to that comment*, than have the practice be that a comment might reflect a meaning not intended and have to review the whole thread to be sure that’s not the case. (And thus, if mere choice and no other constraints were the issue which I think is not the case, I’d actually rather we offered our commenters the option to edit comments than not do so. But that’s just me.)Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Will Truman says:

        There a well understood technical solutions to this problem, but whether they would be easy to set up with your software I don’t know. Anyway, the key is to allow edits, but then to maintain the history of the comment, the way word processors in edit mode do. This way you can go fix your typos or clarify your meaning, which a total win. (And darnit I wish I could fix typos.) But the history is a mouse click away, so if you somehow change your comment materially, in a way that affects the meaning of the following comments, the evidence remains.Report

      • I give myself a window of a couple of minutes that collapses the second anyone responds to what is written.

        One time I deleted a rambling tangent but by the time I did Lee responded to it so I quickly went back and reinstated it so that people would know what he was responding to.

        When we briefly has Disqus I was looking forward to everybody being able to do that though was worried a bit about people doing so way after the fact.

        OTB has a nice feature that gives everybody five minutes.Report

      • Yeah, I like five minutes. Some do like 90 seconds, which seems kind of pointless to me.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:


        yeah, the deletion thing is a bit of a problem. So is changing the content in the way Veronica mentions, in either the OP or in a comment. Personally, I think the benefits of having an edit function are outweighed by the cost. Personal honesty is one casualty, it seems to me. And who gives a rats ass about a few typos anyway?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to dragonfrog says:

      Sounds like they chose to simplify her decision considerably.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to dragonfrog says:

      “Let me know what you think.”

      And they did.Report

  13. Kolohe says:

    This is not the first time that an ill-timed request towards someone from Nazareth has led to a lot of whine.Report

  14. Tod Kelly says:

    I’m going to disagree with everyone.

    Party A offers party B a job. Party B makes a counter offer, and after looking at that counter offer Party A takes the original offer off the table. Party B is unhappy with how things went afterwards.

    Why does anyone have to be a bad guy in this scenario? How is all of this not just life? What, really, needs to be fixed?Report

    • dhex in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I wonder if her willingness to burn Nazareth in a very public way gave her current employer (presuming that second offer was accepted, etc etc) any pause?Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:


    • Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Party A offers party B a job. Party B makes a counter offer, and after looking at that counter offer Party A takes the original offer off the table.

      I think, taken completely in abstract form, I need a bit more explanation of why this isn’t at least a bit problematic, from one direction or another, purely at face value.

      At some level of affluence/power, sure, I have no problem. If at some point the Knicks got sick of Phil Jackson asking for more and more and just decided to move on rather than maintaining pervious offers, okay. But that’s a special kind of case IMO. In working- and middle-class labor markets, and upper-middle class ones where the leverage is heavily on the side of buyers of labor (such as professorships in the humanities), that formulation seems, on its terms, somewhat problematic to me. Which is to say, potentially very justifiable in any given instance, but in need of said justification wrt to any given instance. That’s just my predisposition. It’s always possible to explain why those terms are not reasonable, but ours are, and they remain (at least for now) available.

      Abstractly, moving on in a hiring decision once an offer has been made just on the basis of a counteroffer to me seems to need a situation-specific justification (which is not to say anyone is under any obligation to offer one… but I’m not under any obligation not to think what I’m going to think. But I’m willing to change what I think in response to justifications.)Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Michael Drew says:

        In working- and middle-class labor markets, and upper-middle class ones where the leverage is heavily on the side of buyers of labor (such as professorships in the humanities), that formulation seems, on its terms, somewhat problematic to me.

        With the caveat that “leverage is heavily on the side of buyers of labor” strikes me as equivalent to “wages in this market are too high,” it’s not clear to me why an employer would care about negotiation in this situation. If the employer holds all the cards, all it has to do is say, “This is our final offer, take it or leave it.” It’s in a strong labor market (i.e., when wages are too low) that an employer has an incentive to play games like this.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

        In the abstract, there is nothing wrong with making a counter-offer. In theory, however, it is possible to make a counter-offer that communicates “I’m not going to be a good fit”… just as it’s possible to make a counter-offer that communicates “I’m going to fit right in, believe it.”

        In Trumwill’s post itself, he talks about the local college doing this: One person who was in touch with faculty recruited described the process as an effort primarily to weed out those who weren’t really interested in the job. They’d offer to take applicants hunting, fishing, or hiking. They’d take them to see community theater.

        If a counter-offer to a job offer at this college included “Every year, I’m going to need the first Friday and the following Monday of Deer Season (bow) off”, that would communicate something about the candidate and how likely that s/he’d fit in even though s/he was asking for regularly scheduled time off during the active school year.

        So we just have to hammer out whether it’s possible, in the abstract, to make a counter-offer that communicates “I won’t fit in.”

        Abstractly, it seems to me that this is theoretically possible.Report

      • Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        in a labor market like this, you are seeing blatantly illegal activities on the part of both sides. That’s what happens when things get tight enough.

        I’m not sure what a libertarian would say about that, but I find it deplorable.Report

      • BB,

        Right, so if they say from the outset that the offer is take-it-or-leave-it and the offered-applicant counters, then that to me is a justification. But the default assumption is that you negotiate terms. So if they don’t make clear the offer is TIOLI & respond to a first counteroffer by rescinding, to me that needs a situation-specific justification. If they respond by saying “Our first offer is TIOLI,” well then they’re not doing the thing we’re discussing.



        We don’t just have to establish that an unreasonable counter could be unreasonbale enough to justify rescinding. That’s established. Tod suggested that the abstract progression, “Party A offers party B a job. Party B makes a counter offer, and after looking at that counter offer Party A takes the original offer off the table” is, in the abstract, unproblematic (or if he didn’t, then I’m just treating that notion apart from what he did suggest). What I’m saying is that, to be clear of my sense that a given progression like that is at least a bit problematic, a justification has to be offered as to why it’s not. I.e., such as, in the case in question, the offeree countered with, “Every year, I’m going to need the first Friday and the following Monday of Deer Season (bow) off.”

        If you are agreeing that showing that such an unreasonable request needs to be shown to be present for the rejection-on-counteroffer progression to not be at all problematic at least at the level of suspicion, then you are agreeing with me. Clearly, counteroffers can be unreasonable enough to justify rescinding – that’s not at issue. Do they actually need to be – and do they need to be this unreasonable, or that unreasonable, is the issue. Or can it be just absolutely never problematic any time an offer is withdrawn after a counteroffer, which to me is the implication of Tod’s abstract presentation of the question as not problematic.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @michael-drew I think you are bringing a lot to the table that isn’t in evidence.

        I have to say, I’ve offered jobs to a lot of people over the years, and although many of those were people I was excited about hiring and would have competed like hell to get, not everyone was. A whole lot of people who get hired are hired by those that are a little hesitant about hiring them at all, but who think at this time it’s the best candidate out there. If I had just made an offer to such a person and they had started negotiating terms, I’d withdraw as well.

        Not everyone you decide to hire is someone you would be willing to pay a lot more for, if only they’d say yes.Report

      • Not in evidence? You are also advancing a way to look at any situation like this in the abstract – i.e. that there’s presumptively nothing wrong. I’m saying that, on its face, it seems potentially a bit problematic, or in any case uncertain, absent any information about the specifics. But the specifics might always justify the decision.

        I think it’s you who’s bringing in assumptions not in evidence – namely that there’ll almost always be justifying particulars for what on its face seems potentially problematic. I just want that to be brought into evidence in particular situations. But as I say, this just comes down to a differing assessment of the baseline presumption – justified or problematic – which we can have. Neither of us is importing assumptions into any particular case where there isn’t evidence for it. It’s just what’s the presumption for cases like you abstract – justified or potentially problematic? You’re asserting justified, but my first-blush reaction is potentially problematic (which is really just, “uncertain – but if you want me to believe it’s justified, you have to show me why”).Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’m not asserting anything. I’m just asking, based on the story we have why do we need to declare a villain? You are right, this might totally be an unusual and non-typical situation. Maybe they don’t like her because she’s an uppity woman! Maybe she slept with someone on the committee! There are a million possible things that may have happened.

        But since we don’t know, why bother going there at all? Unless something else comes to light later, my Occam’s razor isn’t understanding why this is news worthy.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’m just asking, based on the story we have why do we need to declare a villain?

        Exactly. (Again!)Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’m certainly not looking for a villain. However, I do insist on placing events such as these into the general context of what women face in the job market, where plenty of research shows women get paid less, and a large contributing factor to this is the reticence of women to negotiate hard when compared to men. Part of the reason for this reticence, it seems, is an enormous double standard applied to women, that men are seen as “strong” while women are seen as “demanding.”

        This is nothing new, but it remains a big deal, and it won’t get better if we don’t keep fighting.

        So how do the specifics of this event play into this framework? I’m not sure. It seems we have exactly enough facts to fit whichever narrative we want.

        That said, we can surely use this to drive the real conversation.Report

      • I’m just asking, based on the story we have why do we need to declare a villain?

        About the specific situation here? That’s what you’re saying? I agree with that.

        I don’t think that’s what you said really, though. And as I said, at some point I was dealing with something I thought your words suggested that maybe you didn’t mean to suggest – and that even if your words didn’t suggest, I still wanted to deal with. So maybe we’re just talking about different things at this point.

        [Edited to add:] …And in the general case I certainly agree that, as an abstraction, what you abstracted doesn’t necessarily suggest anything newsworthy. Perhaps that’s where the misunderstanding lies. Of course not everything problematic that happens in employment negotiations is newsworthy every time it happens. (This situation does seem newsworthy to me for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, but that’s neither here nor there.) But that doesn’t mean that I want to say that everything in employment negotiations that is not newsworthy is not problematic, and certainly not even potentially problematic. that’s what I thought your words suggested – I didn’t pick up that you were just addressing newsworthiness rather than whether anything is problematic, or might be, at all. (And, again, in any case, I wanted to address the problematic/potentially problematic question regardless of what you were addressing.)Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:


        I agree with Tod. NC is under no obligation, legal, moral, or otherwise, to explain itself in detail. It made it pretty clear that it felt that W’s requests demonstrated that she would be happier at a larger institution. Frankly, I think it is awful nice of them to provide that much.

        I am always very appreciative of other parties who take the time & effort to explain to me why they stopped negotiating with me, but I never expect it, and never would. Doing so would potentially place them at a disadvantage during the next negotiation.

        Remember, W is offering a singular perspective on this whole affair. AFAIK, NC has not said a word about it. It is very possible that the next candidate on their list is also a woman, but one whose negotiating is, while still aggressive, shows that she did her homework about the school & is asking for things the school is much more capable of providing.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist — Can you understand why women and minorities trying to operate in the job market might feel differently from you? Can you see how the we’re all free agents all entitled to go our own way is a position that implies a certain sort of power dynamics, and people systematically abused by these power dynamics might want different kinds of justification and oversight?Report

      • MRS,

        As I suggested elsewhere, I’m in no way arguing that they have any obligation to W or of course not me or anyone else to explain. I’m merely saying that for me not to think what I’m going think of what they (or other orgs in their position doing roughly similar things) do when they do things like this (namely, that it needs to be shown to be justified, not presumed to be), they’ll need to explain why it’s justified. But my thinking that doesn’t create any obligation for them to explain themselves. They don’t have an obligation to explain themselves further even to W, for example. But she’s certainly entitled to think what she’s going to think of what they did, and if they want her to think other than that, then they’ll need to offer further explanation.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @michael-drew @veronica-dire

        Not enough information in play for me to agree with either of you. There is a whole lot of information missing in this dynamic.

        I’ve done hiring before, both as the Decider, and as a committee member. I’ve had candidates that were technically a perfect fit, but were borderline in other, more esoteric ways. I’ve declined those technically superior candidates for ones who filled those esoteric qualities better.

        I can truly see the search committee giving W the nod, but maybe by one vote, or maybe because someone influential on the committee was able to lobby for W strongly enough to get her the offer, but not enough to get the committee to negotiate for her when she came back with requests. Hell, this is why a lot of places use search committees, so one person can’t make an arbitrary call & commit the organization to more than it should promise, or saddle a team with a person no one is very happy about.

        As for justifying or explaining, sure. If the next candidate on the list was male (or a female with no plans for a family), and he had made comparable requests & had the opportunity to negotiate those requests, an opportunity W did not get, then I would want to know what the hell NC was up to.Report

      • @mad-rocket-scientist

        I’m not actually clear what you don’t agree with me about, though we can leave it at that if you want.

        I agree there is not enough information to make any definitive judgments in the Nazareth/W case. See my full original comment (and follow-ons thereto) in this thread for my position on the specific case under examination here.

        Recall that this subthread is in relation to my take on an abstracting of the case that Tod offered, and my position here is just that I wouldn’t grant a presumption of justification to the abstract notion of withdrawing an offer in reaction to a counteroffer. For me not to be dubious, I’d have to (as in the Nazareth case) actually see the counter and judge for myself whether it justified that reaction.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:


        Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but my impression is you think this is a hinky situation & you think it would behoove NC to justify this in some fashion.

        I, on the other hand, see no evidence of hinkery & thus see no need for anyone to justify anything (except perhaps the knucklehead who advised this young woman).

        If I have misunderstood you, I am sorry.Report

      • No, as I say I think on their face W’s unreasonable demands constitute the kind of justification I am saying needs to be added to the abstract version of the situation in order for me not to suspect hinkyness. (That’s not to say that I can definitively conclude NC acted fully reasonably, though.)

        I’m just saying that, knowing nothing more than what Tod laid out as the abstraction of what’s going on here in the initial comment in this thread that I then quoted (“Party A offers party B a job. Party B makes a counter offer, and after looking at that counter offer Party A takes the original offer off the table. “), I’m not prepared to say that from just that, my presumption is that there’s no reason to think there’s hinkyness prima facie. Prima facie from that, my inclination is to think it’s as likely there’s hinkyness as not, and to require justification for me (just me!) to conclude the action was justified (not that I’m concluding from only that that it wasn’t).

        Another way to put it would be that I think there generally needs to be a fairly significant burden to be reached once an offer has been tendered in order to justifiably rescind it, and that just not liking a counter offer isn;t presumptively enough to satisfy that. That counteroffer would have to be nutty to some extent I can;t rally describe right now, such that, for now, I’d just have to see it to judge whether it would constitute a justification for rescinding an offer.

        Even more generally, the point is that there should be a higher burden for arriving at the decision to withdraw an offer of employment that has been made than there would be for deciding against making the offer after it was pretty much decided to make it, but before it’s been made. From the organization’s perspective, for purposes of flexibility it makes sense to want to treat those as equivalent, and I don’t think that treating them as the same decision is justifiable.Report

      • …Oh, and no apology necessary, @mad-rocket-scientist . I appreciate your willingness to hear me out and understand what I’m saying.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Another way to put it would be that I think there generally needs to be a fairly significant burden to be reached once an offer has been tendered in order to justifiably rescind it, and that just not liking a counter offer isn;t presumptively enough to satisfy that. That counteroffer would have to be nutty to some extent I can;t rally describe right now, such that, for now, I’d just have to see it to judge whether it would constitute a justification for rescinding an offer.

        That cleared it up! Sorry I was being dense, between helping my wife learn GIS, and myself learning JavaFX while building a chemical mixing tool at work, I ran out of spare processing cycles.

        And I always listen to a fellow Wisconsinite!Report

  15. Patrick says:

    On the other hand, we just don’t know how things looked from Nazareth’s end.

    An aside: we know something about how things looked from Nazareth’s end.

    Academic hires aren’t like hiring an accountant, where there’s typically a Decider. You know, the guy or gal who runs the Accounting department, who may or may not have decided to hand off being the Decider to the person who will be the direct boss of the new hire or whatever.

    Academic jobs, you have a committee. Other folks in the department. The department head, which usually isn’t The Decider but just a member of the department who drew a short stick last time the seat opened. The dean. The provost. Some person from HR who has a salary chart who need to make sure everyone hired at level 29 gets between $N and $M. Sometimes division folks, depending upon your org chart.

    Negotiating with a Decider is one thing. Negotiating with a committee is something else.Report

  16. Patrick Bridges says:

    Not counting maternity leave, she was asking for 1.5 years out of her first 7 off at a teaching college with 4 philosophy faculty and 5 non-tenure-track lecturers. For that, she was asking for a salary that’s probably more than many of the associate professors in that department make. Finally, she was doing so in a field where there is almost certainly a long line of qualified candidates out the door behind her.

    dhex is absolutely right – the most notable thing here is the complete advising failure. Either she didn’t ask her Ph.D. or postdoc advisor for help in how to negotiate her first position, she got terrible advice and followed it, or she got good advice and ignored it.Report

    • +1.

      The bowl-you-over question outstanding is where the heck she got the idea to ask for such things. Who was advising, or failed to advise, her? After all, it’s conceivable that someone could think these wouldn’t be crayzoid requests in some market somewhere, but someone was responsible for giving her accurate information about the actual market she was in. It’s not just automatic that you go to market knowledgeable about said market. And yes, we should presume PhDs are capable of research, but we should also presume someone who’s done nothing but develop philosophical argument for 6 years probably won’t be able to assemble a fully accurate picture of the market and how to navigate it properly from self-guided research. Grads need advisors for this stuff.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Patrick Bridges says:


      I’m in general agreement with you, but will nitpick. I think her request to begin the following ac academic year was not a request for time off in her first 7 years, but for her first 7 years to begin at a later date. She certainly wasn’t asking to be paid through 2014-15 academic year, just to delay her start date by 12 months.

      That’s not always unreasonable, especially since she has a post-doc, which the college should value. But in conjunction with the rest, it’s just asking way too much.Report

      • That’s true – I neglected that above. The demands were still pretty nuts, though, it seems to me (though you’d know better, and laid out why quite well above).Report

      • Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        it sounds like a lot of these were out of line if read as demands.
        as read as a negotiating stance, they’re a lot more acceptable.
        “Hey, i’d like to finish my postdoc? Can we do that? How can we make that work?”
        “Please don’t sandbag me!!”
        “Can I get some understanding of your maternity leave policy? I’d like to base my decision on that…”Report

      • I agree that the crux of the issue is determining what is the appropriate response to a negotiating position, not to bottom-line demands. That’s what makes it hard to parse. The issue, as many have said, is that she seemed to clearly evince a preference for the specific environment of a research university, whether she intended to or not. If she had mis-stepped to a similar degree but did so that didn’t suggest that preference so strongly to the college, it sounds like the reaction might have been different.Report

      • Patrick Bridges in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        She was asking for them to hold the position empty for her for a year, and she would normally goes up for tenure in her 6th year. As a result, from their point of view, she was asking for that faculty line to be held vacant for her for 1.5 of the next 7 years – the first year when she wasn’t there, and an extra semester in the last 3 of the following 6.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        Yes. I’m only clarifying that there’s no indication she expected that she would be paid during that first year of the position being held vacant. And you didn’t actually say she did expect that; it’s just that your phrasing could possibly have been read as implying it.Report

    • Chris in reply to Patrick Bridges says:

      dhex is absolutely right – the most notable thing here is the complete advising failure. Either she didn’t ask her Ph.D. or postdoc advisor for help in how to negotiate her first position, she got terrible advice and followed it, or she got good advice and ignored it.

      This is absolutely true. The first thing I thought when I read the story is, “Why the hell didn’t she talk to somebody before doing that?”Report

  17. Burt Likko says:

    I’m with TK on this — there’s no bad guy here.Report

  18. notme says:

    Meh, most everyhting with the left these days is either an accusation of racism or sexism. It is far harder to really think about what the person you are disagreeing with is saying than it is to make groundless accusations.Report

  19. dhex says:

    coming at this from another angle, the reaction to this story highlights something that’s always bothered me about my wife’s chosen field. [one of many, many things, but to be fair i would imagine people who are joined to those who wish to become professional rock stars or actresses or similar pie-in-the-sky pursuits have similar narratives/resentments about being part of a field you aren’t actually a part of.]

    there’s this sense – and you’ll see it if you read inside higher ed or the chronicle regularly – that job seekers on the tenure track are, at best, overgrown children. professionally guileless beyond their chosen focus. beset from all sides by satanic wickedness and blackened malice.

    they have no way of knowing (in 2014!) that the market is a mess; they have no way of knowing that slacs and r1 schools are fundamentally different in both finances and culture; of recognizing tenor and tone; of how to shape themselves and their work for maximum hireability against hundreds of other essentially identical candidates.

    ultimately, they have no way of knowing anything that falls outside of their narrow obsessions and anxieties. and it’s always someone else’s fault that this is so.

    hell, it’s so bad that when people blame the advisor, half the time it’s caveated (and even i do this!) that they simply could not have known any better having no contact with the job market for decades. because why would someone who advises people want to be informed about the accuracy of their advice? what possible purpose could that serve?

    their own peers expect tenure track seekers to be blind children, and their advisors to be drooling idiots. that’s astounding!

    it’s infantilizing, but also justifies a kind of perpetually self-absorbed attitude towards the world around them. this may be a very long way of saying “grad school”, however. and perhaps that kind of narrow focus is the only way people survive an environment that’s so incredibly competitive and yet so intricately tailored for maximum hoop-jumping and conformity.

    i’d call it cutthroat but it’s too passive-aggressive for that. if anything, perhaps the most notable bit of this particular episode is that both parties were remarkably straightforward with each other. for that i applaud them. of course it took getting burned in the pages of their particular newspaper of record to get there, but we must take what we can get.

    the great punchline, of course, is that most parents and almost all students don’t care if they get taught by a full professor, a vap, a visiting lecturer, an adjunct, a grad student, or the janitor. they want someone to pick up the phone and get yelled at from time to time, but that’s about the extend of the bag o’ fricks they give.Report

  20. daveNYC says:

    Since it turns out that she had another offer on tap that supposedly was going to hook her up with the $65k, I’m not entirely shocked that she counter-offered with a rather aggressive list of demands. She’s got a solid BATNA so might as well go for it.

    It does make me wonder just what she was up to when she omitted that bit from her original story. Having an offer rescinded when you’ve got nothing else on the table makes her sympathetic, leaving out the bit about already having an offer for $65k slants the crap out of the story.Report