Balance between merit and equity in academic hiring decisions: Judgemental content analysis applied to the phraseology of Australian tenure-stream advertisements in comparision with Canadian advertisements
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The wording of university academic job advertisements can reflect a commitment to equity (affirmative action) as opposed to academic merit in hiring decisions. The method of judgemental content analysis was applied by having three judges rate 810 Australian tenure-stream advertisements on seven-point magnitude scales of equity and merit. The influence of time (Years: 1970-1973; 1984-1987; 2000-2003), institution (major research universities, the self-designated Group of Eight (Go8); colleges of advanced education and institutes of technology; regional and distance education institutions), as well as academic discipline (physical sciences and technology; social sciences; humanities) on ratings were also examined. Inter-rater reliabilities were high (≥ 0.92), and the ‘equivalence hypothesis’ (that merit and equity are the same) was not supported. Merit and equity criteria increased over time and were influenced by institution type and academic discipline, although in different ways. While some effects could be viewed as being due to rational policy decisions, other significant effects suggested influences that are more difficult to explain. University administrators need to be sensitive to the balance between merit and equity when formulating hiring policies.
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