Explaining CV Gaps

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that academia is still suited for the middle class, healthy, able-bodied, childless person. In an effort to make things somewhat more hospitable, I suggest we do away with being skeptical of those with “CV gaps.”

Ten years ago, at the tail-end of my MA, I fell ill. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It took these past 10 years–and trying a dozen different medications–for me to finally, recently, be in remission.

I’m not the only one who has an illness, a death in the family, child caring years, etc., to deal with. Once, I overheard a hiring committee treat with suspicion a candidate who, in an effort to explain the CV gap, explained they had a bout with Bipolar Disorder. I don’t know if this candidate got hired or not, but this person shouldn’t have had to explain such a thing, which brings bias in hiring to the table.

Recently, I looked into PhD programs. While Philosophical Gourmet Report rankings are nice and everything, I think what matters is other things: The warmth of a department. The lack of sexism in a department. The ability to see me as a person and not someone who is “unstable” and “crazy.” Those are environments that will help me produce the best work.

I was told over 10 years ago that, if I wanted to do a PhD, I should do it right after my MA.

Well, that couldn’t happen.

I will be going to my doctor to get an O.K. on further education soon. If she says I’m able to go, I should be seen as a fresh student, not a “stale” one. And I shouldn’t have to explain any so-called gaps to anyone.

Life is hard enough. Why make it even harder?

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