The hiring process consists of a series of decisions made sequentially by an academic department and job applicants. A department is authorized to search to fill a faculty position. The search may be for a senior faculty member who will be offered a tenured position; for a tenure-track position, which has the potential to become a tenured position, but does not provide tenure at the time of hire; or for both. This chapter separately considers tenure-track positions and tenured positions for which the six science and engineering departments in Research I institutions surveyed completed searches in the period 2002-2004. This report does not report on positions off the tenure track because no data were collected on these openings.
This section briefly outlines the steps in the hiring process as follows:
the department’s actions in advertising the availability of a position;
the individual’s decision on whether to apply for the position;
the department’s choice of individuals to interview and to make the first offer to; and
the individual’s choice of whether to accept the offer.
Each of these steps is described below.
As part of the process that authorizes a department to fill a faculty position at a tenured or tenure-track level, the department determines the subfield(s) that the individual will be expected to fill (both in a research and teaching capacity). Tenure-track positions at the assistant professor level are advertised nationally in journals and at national conferences. Letters may also be sent to department chairs or faculty in a particular subfield notifying them of open positions. Efforts are generally made to make the hiring process for tenure-track positions appear open and equitable. Advertisements note that the institutions follow Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) rules, and many ads specifically encourage applications by women and minorities. At this point in the process, it is very likely male and female candidates are equally aware of most positions. That is, there is not likely to be a gender-based information gap.
In addition to national advertising, however, the hiring process for tenure-track positions also involves recruiting that could result in gender differences in application rates. For example, word-of-mouth recruiting practices by faculty may generate differences by gender, intentionally or not, in information about the position available to potential applicants. Search committees may try to overcome the limitations of established networks by making special efforts to increase the number of women applying for a given position.