During the last few weeks of, and shortly after the election, I saw a number of stories coming out of Ohio expressing a bit of frustration about how "no one" outside of Ohio bothered to think about or visit Ohio until it was a key state in the electoral college numbers, and then suddenly, a bunch of people spent a whole lot of time thinking about and visiting Ohio. But there was an emptiness to the approach of those people, these articles implied, as they argued that Ohio is worth more than a thought or visit every four years.
My impression of these articles is that they're pretty defensive; and often, they take very seriously comments from outsiders that don't seem all that serious to me. But then, I get comments from my family members about my small town airport, our downtown, camoflauge, and so forth. I also get comments from local people about where I'm from, and they aren't uniformly pleasant comments, either. And I don't take either all that seriously, because I know our town is small, and I suspect the people who comment most know the area their criticizing the least.
But as I've been working through the job search stuff, and really thinking about it, I've noticed that though our search pool is large, it's not as regionally diverse as I'd expect. Given the population densities on the coasts, and the fine graduate programs there, I'd expect more applicaitons from coastal folks than from midwesterners. But my casual observation is that we have a good many more midwestern applications than coastal applications. (We have a plentiful supply of strong, well-qualified applications, so that's not a problem.)
And being me, I wonder why.
Is it regional, with people thinking that it's just too cold, too midwestern, too flyover to want to apply?
Is it state, with people thinking that the state's a mess, and they don't want to come here?
Is it our school, a regional comprehensive with a high teaching load?
Is it our town, too small and seemingly uninteresting?
(I will admit here that I didn't apply to religious schools in the deep south, or religious schools anywhere that seemed too religious to me.)
Underwater basketweaving is a competitive field, with far more people earning terminal degrees than there are TT jobs. Yet there seems to be a population of potential applicants that has chosen not to apply here.
Help me understand why, please. And also, if there are things we can realistically do to change false perceptions, that would be great to hear, too.