Ageism works against adjuncts applying for tenure-track jobs

September 25, 2014

A number of court cases in the US have some suggesting that age discrimination may be a significant factor preventing adjunct faculty members from obtaining tenure-track positions. Court cases in Washington State and Illinois, in particular, alleged that ageism played a role in long-time adjunct faculty members getting passed over for tenure-track positions. The Washington State Supreme Court last week overturned a lower court’s decision that had found in favour of Clark College, which had claimed that a “temporary” full-time instructor had been the “lowest-performing” of 4 interviewed candidates. Kathryn Scrivener, the faculty member in question, said that the college’s President had told her that there was a need for younger talent; Scrivener claimed, too, that the President had advocated hiring faculty with no experience. That President has since left the institution. Maria Maisto, President of the adjunct advocacy group New Faculty Majority, believes that while ageism is a significant issue, the cases also reflect a bias against longtime adjuncts. “If you’ve been an adjunct for a long time … the assumption is that you’re a failed academic,” she said. Inside Higher Ed