By Steven M. Cahn
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Extra resources for Affirmative Action and the University: A Philosophical Inquiry
Employment goals may force faculty to act in spite of bias, to see new qualifications as relevant, or to devote renewed scrutiny to candidates. On the other hand, faculty faced with outcome targets may feel forced to "bend" qualifications and react with resentment. In some cases, but not all, these judgments will be correct. There are risks on both sides, and the inquiry must be comparative. The risks of targets can be minimized if they are focused and responsive to issues about qualifications, for example by allowing a department to demonstrate that it could not find suitable candidates.
D. 46 It may take several years to find a tenure track job, and six or seven years more on the tenure track before a tenure decision is made. Academics thus find it difficult to become securely established before their later childbearing years. Time on the tenure track, even for the fortunate, too often coincides with painful decisions by those in their late thirties about whether to undertake the commitments of becoming a parent or to remain childless. To be sure, these dilemmas also exist in other professions such as law and medicine.
Decisions about appointments, promotion, and tenure are highly qualitative. Standards may be vague and opportunities for comparison limited. Decisions may be based on both discriminatory and nondiscriminatory reasons, and it may be very hard to separate the two or to determine which predominated or whether the biased reasons changed the outcome. Under current legal standards, allegations of discrimination in academia may be some of the most difficult to establish. When claims of discrimination have been borne out, it has also been difficult to know whether the problematic procedures have been corrected, without insisting on actual success in adding women and minorities to faculties or student bodies-that is, without relying on outcome-directed corrective methods.