Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ageing Out

Someone recently asked me if there is an age limit for getting one's first tenure track position. That is, if you follow a "non-traditional" path and/or spend a long time getting your various degrees and maybe also some time as a postdoc, is there an age beyond which institutions won't want to hire you in a tenure-track position?

Maybe, but from what I've seen at my university and from the experiences of some of my friends who are my age and are assistant professors, this age bias, if it exists (and of course it can't officially exist) probably doesn't come into play in a serious way until someone is older than 50.

I'm not saying that ageism for people older than 50 is OK. My point here is to attempt to assuage the anxiety of people who are older than 50, and certainly for those younger than 40, who think that because they are no longer 'young', they won't be able to get a job.

The question of the day, therefore is: How old were you when you started your first tenure-track position?

I think the answer to this question may be somewhat generational -- i.e., it was more common in days of yore for first-hires to be in their 20s -- so I could be ageist and confine the poll to people hired after, say, 1990-ish, but that is more complex than I want to make it. I know the answer will also vary depending on the type of institution, field, country etc. etc., but despite all this, I made a simple poll. You can of course elaborate in the comments to provide context to your answer.

How old were you when you got your first tenure-track position?
less than 30
more than 55

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