Mobility required

Posted: May 5, 2011 by Jender in Uncategorized

I am member of a philosophy faculty in Belgium. It is customary for Belgian postdocs or graduate students who want to acquire one of the (very few) lecturing positions to have an extended stay abroad – preferably at a prestigious British or American department – for 6 to 12 months. Also, the main granting institution in Belgium, the FWO, has as one of its criteria for postdoc positions ‘mobility of the applicant’, i.e., a proven track record of one, and preferably several, stays abroad. I’ve noticed that several women have lost out on postdoc positions and lecturing positions, precisely for this reason: their spouses are less willing or able to move along, and they do not want to abandon their family for such an extended period. During a postdoc career day, the importance of external stays was again stressed by several of the speakers. One woman spoke up and said ‘But how can I do this, my husband is a lawyer, and I have three small children’. The reply to this was: well, maybe it doesn’t work for you, but it’s still important for those of you who can, to try to get one of those visiting fellowships’. This is a subtle form of exclusion.

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