On Age Discrimination
Eric R. Terzuolo, April 2009
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To the Editor:
Thank you for publishing the AHA Professional Division’s 1996 Advisory Opinion Regarding Age Discrimination in your December 2008 issue. With a doctorate from Stanford, three books plus numerous other publications to my credit, and teaching experience ranging from small liberal arts colleges to major public universities, I nonetheless am accumulating letters and e-mails of rejection at an alarming rate, with not so much as the offer of an interview.
I am in my 50s and get the (alas undocumentable) feeling that age is hurting my chances. My case admittedly may not be representative, since I have other potential strikes against me. Having taught political science and international affairs courses, I may be carrying an interdisciplinary taint. Perhaps the 21 years I spent with the U.S. Department of State are a negative. (American colleagues, though not European ones, have been known to give me the “I know you were really a spy” treatment.)
I am convinced, however, that the issue of age discrimination in the historical profession merits more sustained attention, especially given the ever-growing number of baby boomers seeking “encore careers.” Perhaps the AHA could provide a forum for a sustained conversation among members on age discrimination, to develop a clearer picture of the situation and articulate the many diverse interests at stake.
—Eric R. Terzuolo
adjunct faculty member, University of Rome 3
Sant’ Anna School of Advanced Studies,
Pisa and John Cabot University, Rome