When I began work on this paper I designed a questionnaire to be filled out by women who had recently been on the job market. It asked for fairly detailed information: titles of accepted articles, writing samples, and dissertation, number of MLA interviews, other interviews, campus visits, kinds of questions asked, etc. I had hoped, I think, to develop a magic formula—twelve writing sample requests divided by three interviews multiplied by two publications equals an 87% chance of getting a job, for example. But I had trouble developing the formula; no common patterns emerged. The first thing I did learn is that most (academic?) women (?) don’t like filling out questionnaires. I gave fifteen to women I know personally and ten—after considerable badgering on my part—were returned. I left forty or fifty on a literature table at a conference on women writers; none were returned. Later, however, I began to think it wasn’t the questionnaire that prevented responses; it was the job market itself, for when I posted an open-ended query on an international women’s studies electronic bulletin board (twice), I received only nine responses –even after inviting people to “vent.” In fact I received almost as many requests for copies of this paper as substantive responses to the query. Many of us, it seems, want to understand the process of looking for a job; few feel we do, or want to talk about it afterwards.

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“Feminists Face the Job Market: Q and A (Questions and Anecdotes)” by Elisabeth Gruner from ON THE MARKET, edited by Christina Boufis and Victoria C. Olsen, copyright © 1997 by Christina Boufis and Victoria Olsen.

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