What’s a Tenure-Track Professor Dress Like? The Gap Takes a Guess at the Look for Women

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” The Gap Inc. seems to be taking that old saying to heart.

In its latest online advertisement, the clothing retailer promotes a look for women, “The Tenure-Track Professor.” The ad’s tagline reads, “Get respect for your ideas and blazer choices.”

The model appears in gray dress pants, matching high heels, an embroidered blue top, and a deeper blue blazer. The ad includes a pair of eyeglasses, but not being worn by the model.


We asked some of our Twitter followers what they thought about the ad, the look, and if they’d wear it themselves. Here are a few of the responses:

Lauren McCoy, a visiting assistant professor in the kinesiology, recreation, and sport program at Western Kentucky University, asked a question that was surely on many professors’ minds.

The ad provides no answer. However, Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, noted that the Gap offers discounts for faculty members. According to Banana Republic’s website, Banana Republic, Gap, Athleta, and Old Navy stores give a 15 percent discount to anyone with a valid student or teacher I.D. 

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi’s master of fine arts program, wrote that the outfit lacked some animal decor.

Other women wrote that they’ve worn similar outfits or have adopted this style in their academic professions.

More seriously, some women raised the issue of sexism in the tenure process and pointed out the absence of similar ads for men. 

With or without the promise of tenure, it’s important to note that this color palette might not be for everyone.

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