Prestige and old boys

Posted: January 4, 2012 by Jender in implicit bias

At the end of my APA talk, I was gathering my papers and still fielding some questions. A placement officer from a Leiterific department came up to another panel member – who may or may not have been on a search committee, but certainly represents a department in the middle of a hiring process – and greeted him warmly, than lowered his voice to say ‘You guys are giving our guy a shot at this, right’? I happen to know that this department is in the middle of a hiring process because my application is presumably somewhere in the ‘not interested’ pile, as we speak.

While at the APA, I also attended the talk on implicit bias, which nearly deteriorated into a fight over whether prestige bias (bias in favour of prestigious institutions) is a good heuristic, or a moral failing.

My worry, in putting these 2 issues together, is a reminder that prestige bias doesn’t function on its own. It functions alongside an old-boys-club style of networking that we should be (and perhaps are) embarrassed about as professional philosophers.

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