Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Compartmentalizing faith and career, until tenure?

At the Sociology meetings this last week, I attended a meeting of the Christian Sociological Society. It was interesting and encouraging to hear other Christians talk about making their way in the sociological world.

I was surprised, though, to hear a professor tell of being given a bad time from his colleagues about his faith.

Later in the meeting, I spoke with someone who had recently gotten tenure but it was a bit rough because a couple members of the department had "concerns" about this person's religious faith. (This person, btw, has a very strong vita).

Yikes! This is a bad thing for Christian junior faculty, i.e., pre-tenure, because they are in such a vulnerable place.

I don't think there are many contexts in the U.S. in which Christians are discriminated against, but academics might be one of them. See here, and here.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In some instances I know of, religious faith is accompanied by political and social conservatism, which compounds the problem...

Brad Wright said...

True, though I don't think it was the case in these situations.

Somewhat ironically, sociology departments seek to increase some types of diversity while decrease others...

Stratoz said...

don't know if it is true, but wouldn't be surprised. don't remember my college education in the sciences being faith friendly, in fact Christians were blamed for the poor shape of the environment.

Jim said...

While I was on the tenure track at U of Central Arkansas (chemistry), two of us were warned by the department chair that the fact that we could be identified as Christians would be negatively considered during his review of our tenure applications. His evaluation was a major portion of the tenure process there. Within three years, both of us had left (one tenured Christian chem prof was denied promotion to full professor in the same time period), in part at the suggestion of tenured chemistry faculty that were themselves visibly active Christians and worried that we were not going to be granted tenure based on the chair's "block". Keep in mind, NONE of us mentioned our Faith in class or to our students during professional interactions and the only way that we could be identified was because in one departmental social setting (a birthday party), church attendance was mentioned. I went on to becoming the project head for a educational project for the Lebanese government (am now a chem prof in the Seattle area), my colleague is a senior research biochemist at the Mayo Clinic Research Facility.

BTW - I really appreciate your blog, am telling my friends about it.

God is Truly good

Brad Wright said...

Jim,

What a remarkable, and upsetting, story. I'm sorry that you had to go through such a difficult time because of your faith.