Wednesday, December 27, 2006

willing to move North

So I have applied to one tenure-track faculty position in Canada and am contemplating applying to another one. I have no personal hesitation about taking a Canadian job; I grew up close enough to the border that when travelling internationally I have been able to "pass" for Canadian. Professionally, I see Canadian -ologists producing excellent research and interacting with American colleagues.

But I am not very familiar with the Canadian post-secondary educational system, and I wonder whether there might be requirements for faculty that differ from those I am used to here in the US. In some senses, this question doesn't become important until I get offered a position and need to decide whether it is the right one for me. But it may also matter in terms of the application I submit. For example, at one of the universities, it says that passive bilingualism is a condition of tenure. Does that mean that I should address it in the application? (And what is passive bilingualism anyways? I don't speak a lick of French, but I am willing to learn if need be.)

I also wonder how much effort to put into these Canadian applications. They very clearly say that preference is given to Canadians and permanent residents. I have several friends that have gotten Canadian professorships, but all but one of them are Canadian citizens. Is that because not very many Americans try for Canadian jobs or is because the bar is so much higher for non-Canadians?

So I guess I'll send off a few this go-around and see what results. It can't really hurt, as long as I am also making sure to apply to plenty of American universities as well. And in an interesting twist, the Canadian school to which I've applied is actually farther south than the American job which I most hope for this year.


skookumchick said...

Good luck with the application. I went to undergrad in Canada -- found the system a bit different but not terribly. Here's my summary: specialize earlier, fewer gen ed requirements, not called freshmen-seniors etc., different tuition system, less Greeks. And they have the x,y, and zed-axes. ;-)

I don't think the bar is much higher for Americans than Canadians. It's just one more way to make sure that if Canadians want jobs at home, they can find them.

ScienceWoman said...

Skookumchick - Thanks for your perspective.

Amelie said...

"passive bilingualism" -- could that mean that you need to understand French, but not speak [enough to teach classes etc.]? I don't know about the requirements for professors in Barcelona, but they may chose to teach in either Catalan or Spanish, so as a student, you need to be able to understand both. And I'd even be allowed to answer exam questions in English, since I don't know either of the local language sufficiently, but that might be an exception.

ElwoodCity said...

Ironically, I know four Americans who have applied for Canadian positions, and about half recieved offers. I say about half, because I am sort of counting the offer that would have been if only...

They were in four different fields, and none of them were -ology.

I'm the first Canadian I know to apply, and am trying to become the first Canadian I know to get an offer. I'll know more in a month or so.

I'd been wondering how the job search was going.

sab said...

Good luck with the job search here in Canada! I can only talk about what I know, which is among the physical sciences, but I'll try to give you a bit of a heads up.

I don't know too much about the prospects for Americans to get jobs here, I don't know of any quotas for Canadians or anything like that, and most of the (physics,chemistry) departments I've been in or visited have a substantial number of foreign professors (often more from Europe).

You may find that there are fewer jobs offered here. However, when "tenure-track" positions are advertised they generally mean it... as in, they hire one person for each anticipated tenured position. My understanding of the US system is that there are usually a few people hired for each tenure position they anticipate offering (I feel like this leads to ugly competition, rather than a lot of pretty amenable collaboration between young PI's here).

Pay will likely be less, and taxes are considered high. Enh. C'est la vie. (got that? that might be your passive french.) Universities are publically funded and lack the big bucks to pay and I've heard of good Canadian candidates being snapped up by big American institutions in salary bidding wars.

As for French... unless you are applying for a position in Quebec or possibly Ottawa, it is unlikely that bilingualism is a real requirement. Even if it is, if you show serious interest in learning, I bet it will be waived. Offer to take a course as soon as you arrive. It will be extra work and stress when you are trying to get established, but hey, then you can go to Paris and talk with the locals. ;) I'm not sure what "passive bilingualism" means... they might mean what we all got from our grade-school french, which isn't a heck of a lot. Probably best to just inquire about what they really mean.

I think the Canadian granting systems is very fair, even encouraging, to new young professors. NSERC is the major granting agency and it seems to be quite generous and understanding of the need of young faculty to get going. Not to say it's a free ride, but compared what I've heard about the US and EU it seems quite good. I hope to take advantage of it myself in a few years.

The funding situation combined with a generally collaborative and friendly environment in most departments I think makes Canada a good place to be as a young prof.

If you want to ask more, email me:

Best of luck with your job search and mini's arrival!

ps- oh, and we do say "zed" not "zee"... you will get chuckles from students if you say "zee". ;)