Gender and the Academic Job Market in Japanese Studies

What A Professor Should Look Like

One of the great sources of frustration in my life is when female grad students act as if I’m insulting them by explaining how difficult it is to be on the academic job market. These women are brilliant, talented, and hard-working; and, in their minds, there is no reason for them not to succeed. A common response I’ve received both online and in person is that it’s nothing more than a pessimistic attitude that has been holding back not just me but my entire graduate cohort.

I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps gender might have something to do with our frustration and relative lack of success. Certainly, we wouldn’t be the first women in history to find ourselves at a disadvantage on any given job market.

To satisfy my own morbid curiosity, I made a list of the job announcements in the field of Japanese Studies during the past two job markets (2012/13 and 2013/14). I then asked three questions of each position:

(1) Was it tenure-track?

(2) Did the job posting make it clear that the position requires Japanese language instruction?

(3) Is the person who was eventually hired male or female?

I found that the candidates hired for tenure-track positions that did not require language instruction were overwhelmingly male. Tenure-track positions that did require language instruction could go to men or women, but there was a small bias towards male candidates. Non-tenured positions tended to go to women.

The category of “teaching Japanese” might require explanation. To make a long story short, the majority of Japanese Studies PhDs from top graduate programs are not trained in linguistics or second-language acquisition, so jobs that do not require language instruction are considered to be the most desirable. Positions that follow this elite model tend to be elite positions, and positions that require language instruction tend to demand a heavier course load for a lower salary. In essence, teaching language is a burden that is almost never fairly compensated in the field of Japanese Studies.

Perhaps gender has nothing to do with the statistics I was able to gather. Correlation does not equal causation, after all. What I hope to highlight here is an apparent hiring trend that requires a great deal more research in order to be understood and corroborated.

Many thanks to Pau Pitarch of Kappa Bunko for his invaluable assistance!

Without further ado, here’s the data.

* * * * *

2013 – 2014 Job Market
_____

Total Jobs: 16
Tenure-Track, No Language: 4 men, 1 woman
Tenure-Track, Language: 5 men, 2 women
Non-Tenure-Track: 1 man, 2 women
_____

Bates College
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Dartmouth College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Search Failed

George Mason University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Haverford College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Michigan State University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Middlebury College
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Northwestern University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Princeton University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Kentucky
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Michigan
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of North Texas
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Notre Dame
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Wake Forest University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Wellesley College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Western Michigan University

Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

* * * * *

2012 – 2013 Job Market
______

Total Jobs: 31
Tenure-Track, No Language: 8 men, 2 women
Tenure-Track, Language: 7 men, 5 women
Non-Tenure-Track: 3 men, 6 women
_____

Bard College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Bates College
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Beloit College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Boston University
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male
Hire Webpage: [link]

Chapman University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Centre College
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Earlham College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Eastern Kentucky University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

George Washington University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Grand Valley State
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Kennesaw State University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Lehigh University
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Macalester College
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Middle Tennessee State University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

North Central College
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

The Ohio State University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Princeton University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

State University of New York, New Paltz
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Sewanee: The University of the South
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Arizona
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of British Columbia
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of California, Los Angeles
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Colorado, Bolder
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language-Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Denver
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Minnesota
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Pittsburgh
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of New Mexico
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

University of Notre Dame
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Williams College
Tenure-Track: No
Language Teaching Required: Yes
Result: Female Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

Yale University
Tenure-Track: Yes
Language Teaching Required: No
Result: Male Hired
Hire Webpage: [link]

* * * * *

Totals

Total Jobs: 47

Tenure-Track, No Language: 12 men, 3 women

Tenure-Track, Language: 12 men, 7 women

Non-Tenure-Track: 4 men, 8 women

All Positions: 28 men, 18 women

28 thoughts on “Gender and the Academic Job Market in Japanese Studies

  1. The image at the top is from a blog post titled The Male Professor As Open Book.

    Some notes about the data:

    (1) I accessed job postings from the H-Asia mailing list, the AATJ Jobline, and the Academic Jobs Wiki pages for Japanese Language and Literature 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

    (2) I did not include positions in Cinema Studies, Media Studies, Comparative Literature, or Gender Studies that asked for a specialist in “Asia” or “Non-Western Cultures.” I also did not include Japan-related positions in History, Art History, or Anthropology, which typically require a PhD in the corresponding discipline.

    (3) I confirmed hires through university web pages. In some cases, I was unable to determine who was hired for a listed position. There are several reasons for this; but, instead of specifying a reason, I listed the result of the search as “unknown.” I will fill in the unknowns as data becomes available. Any assistance is welcome!

    (4) I restricted the scope of the Japanese Studies positions I included to those in the United States and Canada, primarily because those are the only ones to which I myself applied and thus archived position description details. To any job seekers operating outside of North America, I strongly recommend subscribing to the mailing list of the European Association for Japanese Studies.

    (5) Academic job postings are notoriously ephemeral. As I mentioned in the previous note, I was only able to include those to which I applied and thus kept digital copies of. There were certainly more positions on the market, but records of their announcements may no longer exist. If you would like me to send you a description for any of the positions listed in the above data set, please get in touch with me through this blog’s contact page: https://japaneselit.net/contact/

    1. First of all, thank you very much for the hard work of putting together the data! This will be an absolutely invaluable first step for anyone who wants to do any kind of further work on this!

      …second, and this is because I’m not really familiar with this particular field – you note: “To make a long story short, the majority of Japanese Studies PhDs from top graduate programs are not trained in linguistics or second-language acquisition.”

      Has there been any study done that you’re aware of on the gender make-up of those kinds of programs?

      1. Has there been any study done that you’re aware of on the gender make-up of those kinds of programs?

        Not to my knowledge.

        My off-the-cuff impression is that there is a fairly even gender balance in graduate programs. I scanned some department websites when I was first considering this question, and I noticed that there is an equal number of male and female profiles. And it’s not that the male grad students are more successful at being graduate students – female grad students seem to publish just as frequently as male grad students in student-friendly publications such as Mechademia and Japan Focus, and I’ve seen relatively equal numbers of female and male grad students at academic conferences over the past five years.

        The numbers started to become skewed when I started looking at postdocs specific to Japanese Studies, but that’s another project for another day.

        Regardless, the idea that fewer women in graduate school would lead to fewer female applicants is not necessarily as convincing as it may seem for two reasons. The first is that who applies (or even how many people apply) for any given job is very cloak-and-dagger information, and it would be ethically questionable for a committee, department, or university to provide details of the search and hire process. The second is that many (if not most) universities either make it difficult to hire a white male candidate or strongly encourage committees to make what is known as a “diversity hire.” Therefore, regardless of who the applicants may be, it is highly unlikely that the small pool of candidates interviewed and selected for campus visits will be exclusively male (although it certainly does happen that there will be three male candidates and only one female candidate invited for a campus visit, as has been the case during several job searches with which I have been directly or tangentially involved).

  2. This comment will list edits made to this post.

    Edit 01/01/2015
    * All “unknowns” for 2013/2014 resolved.
    * Webpages for 2013/2014 hires added.
    * Three positions added to “2013/2014 Job Market” section.

    Edit 01/04/2015
    * All “unknowns” for 2012/2013 resolved.
    * Webpages for 2012/2013 hires added.
    * Seven positions added to “2012/2013 Job Market” section.

    Edit 01/05/2015
    * Total numbers for 2012/2013 + 2013/2014 updated.
    * Pau Pitarch credited for his corrections and substantial help filling in the gaps.

    If you would like to suggest an edit, please respond to this comment.

    1. I believe the UBC tenure-track position (2012-2013) cycle hired a woman. Also missing from the list is a position at the University of Minnesota (2012-2013), for which a male candidate was hired.

    2. SUNY New Paltz also had a position in 2012-2013 (tenure track, includes language teaching, I believe), for which a male candidate was hired.

      1. Thanks! I will edit the list after I confirm this.

        I heard an interesting story about the UBC and Minnesota positions, which is that the same guy was offered both positions and turned down UBC for Minnesota. Perhaps that’s just a rumor, though.

    3. I have been told by the man who got the U of Arizona job that that position did not involve language teaching requirements, and that they put out a call for, separately, and hired, a visiting asst professor for language/linguistics.

      1. Got it. I actually made the revisions for the tenure-track position back in November, but I wanted to say that this has been duly noted.

        As for the non-tenure-track position that requires teaching language, it seems that this person (female) got the job, but I’m not including positions that only require language teaching in the above data set.

    4. Hi, Kathryn. I’m a Ph.D. student at Yale who has been following your blog. I think that your post has been an important way to open up discussion. In general, there seems to have been an interesting mix of support, constructive criticism & ambivalence, and occasional grumpiness (denying white male privilege in general). In a lot of ways, it’s not easy to respond to this post since, given the limited data set, etc., there would be many problems with logic if attempting to make most conclusions, and there were also enough errors in the original post that it was distracting. But as someone deeply invested in this sort of discussion, what I found most helpful was to observe how faculty & other grad students responded when this topic was brought up. In any case, I’d like to offer a few corrections supplied by people who responded when I shared the post. I quickly checked, but I don’t think these have been mentioned yet!

      Earlham: Filled by a woman, not a man.
      Wellesley: Job misrepresented; a male faculty member was hired, but the position requires language teaching at 1st and 4th year levels.

      1. Thank you for writing with the corrections!

        I fixed the data for the Earlham and Wellesley positions.

        there would be many problems with logic if attempting to make most conclusions

        As I noted in the introduction to the post, the data set is indeed limited, but the gendered trends within this limited data set are clear. In fact, now that I have filled in all of the “unknowns,” the trends are even clearer. Of course we can’t use this to draw conclusions about the field or academia in general, but at least now we have something like a starting point for discussion.

        I got a lot of backlash after first posting. In fact, some of the comments I received were so hurtful that I abandoned this post – as well as the entire blog – for almost two months. What surprised me most was that, instead of getting in touch with me directly to provide specific information or corrections (such as “here is the name of the person who was hired for this position”), many people were content to simply write terrible things on Facebook or Twitter along the lines of “she gets everything wrong.”

        To be fair, I did get a few things wrong, and there were a few missing pieces I needed help (or a bit more time) to figure out, but the original post didn’t contain all that many errors. I wonder if perhaps it says something about our profession that so many academics are more willing to gloat over someone’s inexperience than they are to acknowledge the validity of a project by lending their support…?

    1. Thankfully, now that I’ve filled in the unknowns and fixed the errors, it’s not quite so stark.

      Instead of “there are no women hired for tenure-track positions that don’t require teaching language,” it’s just that there are 4:1 odds against women. Not good, but better than zero!

      Women are twice as likely than men to get non-tenure-track positions, but men are still being hired to fill these positions.

      The most interesting trend to arise from the new data is that men are actually more likely to get the tenure-track positions with a language component.

      It’s difficult to draw conclusions given the limited data set, however, and I’m thinking about going back another year (to the 2011/2012 market) to see how it affects the trends I found during the past two years.

      Hopefully the 2014/2015 market will demonstrate a more gender-neutral distribution!

      1. Sorry to hear about the backlash: I guess I move in limited enough circles that I didn’t see it; it is, as you say, unfortunate, regretable, and revealing.

        I’d still call 4:1 a pretty starkly obvious differential: clearly the new data was useful, but does not invalidate your thesis.

        Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for all your work in putting this together, and sharing it. One question: you say you’re not listing positions in History, Art History, or Anthropology, so just to be clear, what positions are we talking about? Strictly Departments of East Asian Studies (or EALL, EALC, and so on)? Are these all positions focusing on literature or cultural studies? Do they include or exclude media studies, gender studies, history, art, anthro positions being hired within East Asia departments?

    1. Thank you for such an insightful comment! I wanted to address all of this somewhere, but didn’t know how to go about doing it.

      As I’m sure you know (but which I will explain for the sake of people who are coming to this discussion without a lot of background information), the reason I didn’t include positions in History, Art History, or Anthropology is that such positions usually require a PhD in the appropriate discipline, as the hire will generally be expected to teach intro or survey courses specific to the disciplinary department. For example, an Art History hire would be expected to teach classes like “History of Western Art” or “The Renaissance Masters,” not to mention methods classes for MA and first-year PhD students who don’t know or care about Japan.

      Although not all of the positions I included were in Asian Studies departments (several were in Comp Lit, Cinema/Media Studies, and Languages departments), I definitely included all positions in Asian Studies departments that didn’t have a definite focus on History or Religious Studies (as defined by requiring a PhD in History or Religious Studies).

      As I recall, most of the job postings were quite broad. To give you an example, here is a paragraph from a posting for a Japanese Studies position at UC Irvine from this year’s job market:

      The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Irvine, invites applications for a tenure-track position in Modern/Contemporary Japanese Literature and Culture, to begin July 1, 2015. (Please note that this is one component of an open-rank search.) We welcome applicants from a broad range of specializations (literature, popular culture, critical theory, intellectual history, performance, [post]colonialism, gender studies, religious studies, cultural anthropology, ecocriticism, and film and visual studies, to name a few) whose work accommodates diverse geographical and disciplinary interests. Applicants should be committed to enhancing our programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The department values interdisciplinary approaches to research and teaching, and it would welcome applicants whose interests overlap with other units in UC Irvine’s School of Humanities, including Comparative Literature, History, Religious Studies, Asian-American Studies, Visual Studies, and Gender Studies.

  4. The Boston U non TT was filled by a man.

    A decade ago a lot of women were getting the second tier jobs and interviews right away, and a lot of men out of work for a few years and then getting hired at the very top places.

    1. Thank you for the information! It took some detective work, but I finally tracked down the hire, and I’ve updated the entry.

      I didn’t spend too much time scoping out the hires, but it’s my off-the-cuff impression that the men hired for the top-tier positions spent a few years doing one or more postdocs before spending another year or two in a visiting position in an Asian Studies department at a highly ranked school.

      The backlash from this project took years off my life, so I’m not keen on doing another one any time soon, but it might be interesting to compare “visiting assistant” positions to “lecturer” or “adjunct” positions. One would need data from more job market years, however, as there were relatively few such positions open during the past two years (although many might be announced during the next few months, of course).

      It might also be interesting to run the numbers for the big Japan Studies postdocs, but that can be someone else’s project. I felt comfortable posting job market data because I was lucky enough to find a tenure-track position and can therefore lay off the job applications for at least a couple of years, but I’m still planning on applying to postdocs!

  5. This is great! Thank you!!

    Let me supply some more information for the “unknown”s you have up there.

    For the 2012-2013 cycle, Bates hired a male (for that particular position), UBC hired a female, and U of Denver hired a female. For the 2013-2014 cycle, I heard that the Dartmouth search failed. Also, the UK position I believe specified that they wanted a linguist, so yes, it is a Japanese position, but I wouldn’t have grouped it with the other positions. Most linguistics positions hire for the particular reason to have someone manage their Japanese language program so I would expect some language teaching there.

    By the way, I am one of those that benefits from your blogging and syllabi uploads. Thank you so much! I would love to meet in person some day soon.

    1. The info for Bates, UBC, and Denver has been noted, corroborated, and corrected in the entry. Thank you! I really appreciate your help.

      As for the University of Kentucky position, they hired a linguist, but this is what the original job announcement asked for:

      Research area is open, but specialization in Second Language Acquisition, Applied Linguistics with a focus on Japanese, or Japanese Language Pedagogy will complement our growing undergraduate and graduate programs. Candidates trained in related fields (e.g., cultural or literary studies of premodern Japan, trans-Asian studies, religious studies, etc.) are also encouraged to apply. In addition to administering the Japanese language program, responsibilities of the position include pursuing an active research program, teaching a total of four courses per year in the Japanese Program and Department, and coordinating language-related extracurricular/outreach activities.

      In other words, I think they were keeping their options open by encouraging a wide range of Japan Studies people to apply to the position.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve received such extensive and harsh backlash. For shame on those people who should react in such a manner that it should cause you emotional stress.

    1. Thank you. Seriously.

      I am kind of a delicate flower, though.

      After seeing the nonsense floating around on Twitter, I was tempted to sign up for an account of my own to stir the pot and create trouble, but I just didn’t have the emotional energy at that point in the semester. Perhaps one day…!

      1. I, too, am sorry for all the backlash that you got. What you do requires incredible amounts of work and benefits many of us. I hope that we as a field can learn to show more appreciation for the amount of work someone puts in while remaining constructively critical.

        I also just wanted to say that your being a “delicate flower” is probably one of the reasons why you are in literary studies in the first place, as are many of us. (This was something that I was told by a friend who was studying to be a social worker.)

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