Here’s a story about a recent rejection from a law firm, after an initial offer, which may (or may not) be analogous to the W situation at Nazareth College, in which Nazareth withdrew an offer after seeing W’s request for higher pay and other considerations. This new one doesn’t look like a case of negotiating while female, but it did get the same response as in the notorious W case. Which begs the question, what obligations does an employer have after extending a job offer? The W occurred in academe, but it may not be evidence that academia is any different than other lines of work.
There’s been a lot of ventilating and hypothesizing over Nazareth College’s recent withdrawal of an offer to a job candidate. On Slate, it’s been interpreted as a case of negotiating while female, or a symptom of abusive expectations of faculty in general. I don’t want to discount the gender dynamics here–might Nazareth have treated a man differently?–or, as you all know, the power that hiring institutions have over candidates, and, for that matter, all faculty. But, putting my historian hat on, and always considering multiple causes, I wonder if there’s yet another thing going on here: Nazareth making perhaps the right decision, but doing it exceedingly boorishly; and the differing perceptions of how negotiations work. I’m not excusing Nazareth, but just offering a little more for us to think about.
In this article on Vitae, Karen Kelsky encourages academic job applicants to apply for a job a second time if there’s no hire the first time, but with a caveat: only if you’ve got six new things on your C.V. or have some new angle. It’s great advice, or at least, was in my case, as I got my job here at BGSU in a second search, after the first one crashed. But you don’t always need a new image and cv. In my case, the year did make me a different candidate, with a finished dissertation. But I also know other cases in which the first group flamed out (wasn’t liked, asked for too much, whatever) and the committee went down the list. Interesting: it’s pretty unusual for faculty searches to crash these days, because of the fear that they wouldn’t be reauthorized. Administrative and coaching jobs, well, those keep on going for how many searches it takes, come hell or high water.