When professors at the University of Vermont sent information about a job opening to the American Economic Association this fall about a tenure-track opening, they didn’t think their notice was unusual. After describing the position, the notice said that the university “welcomes applications from women and underrepresented ethnic, racial and cultural groups and from people with disabilities.”That final sentence is standard affirmative-action boilerplate, although good luck claiming "bowling-shirt factory rat" or "non-quiche-eating Real Guy" deserve protected status as an "underrepresented cultural group" in the academy.
It's also contrary to the American Economic Association's policies on job announcements.
Those words never made it into the economics group’s job notice list because they were deemed discriminatory by the association. That view has angered enough economists that the association’s board will be meeting next month to consider changing its policies on job listings, but for now economists are trading charges of discrimination, censorship and insensitivity.And quite the spat has broken out.
The annual conference is in Chicago. I'm going to be pretty busy with recruiting but if I see any fights breaking out in the hotel lobby, I'll report on those upon my return to active posting.
The International Association for Feminist Economics has written to the AEA questioning the group’s policy and saying that it has the potential to hurt recruiting efforts. “Economics has been described as a discipline with a particularly hostile climate for women and members of underrepresented ethnic minorities,” the letter said. ” We urge the AEA to do everything it can to dispel this image.”
Adding to the controversy is anger among some non-traditional economists who believe the association is squeezing them out of its annual meeting. The AEA meeting had in recent years featured more sessions from various groups of economists with specialties and areas of interest than from the AEA as a whole, and the larger association has begun taking back more meeting slots. While AEA officials insist that groups are having meeting sessions eliminated based on attendance and not on politics, some left-leaning groups — particularly the Union for Radical Political Economics — charge that their ideas are being set aside. Some professors see the conference and job notice disputes pointing to larger problems with the association.
(On the lighter side, is there any interest in an economics webloggers' meetup on Thursday or Friday of the conference?)