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Age discrimination – an academic question?

by on December 8, 2014

Periodically there is much discussion in the press regarding issues of age discrimination in education with, in the US in particular, Universities coming in for much criticism.

As summarised here, on Insiderhighered.com there seems to be an increase in cases related to older applicants struggling to make the transition from temporary or sessional academic work to full-time (and in the US ‘tenure track’) positions.  Over the summer there was a discussion in the Guardian about older PhD students which prompted a similar debate, though here there were many responses that highlighting the difficulties for such progression irrespective of age.  This has come to the fore again with the recent employment tribunal investigating a case of indirect age discrimination in an academic job selection process in the UK.

Over the time on our blog we have found many instances where conference calls and research calls have made assumptions about age although we have noticed a shift in most cases away from the use of the term ‘young’ as a particular targeted group towards a focus on support for ‘early career’ researchers.  This often takes completion of PhD as a sort of ‘academic year zero’ from which subsequent years experience are counted.  Of course this does have the effect of discounting ‘non-academc’ experience and any transferable skills though at least it is a useful means of attempting to avoid chronological age as a marker.

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