Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gender, Equity, Mobility

Yes, I need to continue packing. But before I do, I wanted to write a post.

Last week, the Chronicle published this piece about spousal hiring. And Bitch PhD wrote this, discussing her situation, having left a tenure-track position and now having "'mommy' [be] where most of my identity lies these days." And then Profgrrrrl writes about the practice of spousal hiring in response to the Chronicle article and her upcoming transition out of a commuter marriage and into a dual-academic couple working at the same institution. And then Historiann posted this in response to this post over at Female Science Professor.

Let me state some things up front, just so nobody gets the wrong idea:
  1. I'm not totally against spousal hiring.
  2. I do think that the structures of academia are inherently patriarchal, and that those structures systemically do benefit men and not women.
  3. I do believe that women academics should be compensated equitably with their male peers, based on job performance.
In other words, I'm not actually in disagreement with any of the posts to which I'm linking.

But.

Something is sticking in my craw about these posts and about some of the comments that they've generated. I'm trying to figure out how to write about the discomfort that I've been feeling in a way that is systematic and that brings it all together, but I'm not sure if that's possible. Hmm. Ok, I think I'll give up on that and just write about each piece of the puzzle individually, and then maybe after doing that I'll come to some sort of general conclusion where it all comes together? Or maybe I'll just leave you with all the pieces. We'll see.

Spousal Hiring

As I noted above, I am not unwaveringly against this practice. That said, I think the thing that bothers me when we talk about "spousal hires" is that the conversation often leaves out discussions about how "accommodations for spouses" are made at poor, non-research institutions. At elite institutions (like Johns Hopkins or Princeton, where the Chronicle author is writing from), or at major research universities, the practice of spousal hiring, or "opportunity hires," strikes me as a reasonable practice. Typically it is true in these contexts that individual departments don't lose a line when they make these hires, and typically it does seem to be the case that the "opportunity hire" is a candidate that is excellent and which the department would be lucky to have. (Note: I'm just talking about faculty spousal hires here.)

When we get to an institution like mine, though, my sense is that the issue becomes much murkier. The murkiness comes from the fact that my institution does not have a history of making "opportunity hires," whether they are spouses or just people who would come and raise the profile of the institution. Instead, any such hiring has historically been done in a back-door fashion. So, for example, let's say that we made Candidate A an offer. Candidate A, whether male or female, had a spouse who is an academic. (Note that I say spouse here. This is crucial. We are not talking about partners - we are talking about legally married people.) Historically, if we really wanted the candidate, the chair might agree to "find something" for the spouse, and that "something" would be something off the tenure track. Then, once some time passed, a hiring line would open up in the department. An ad would be written to fit the trailing spouse, as long as the couple had played nicely and sucked up to the right people. And then, under the auspices of an open search, the trailing spouse would be hired into a tenure-track position, regardless of the coverage needs of the department and regardless of the quality of other candidates being interviewed for the position. (Note: I am putting all of this in the past tense because I feel like the days of such practices in my department are likely behind us given the current make-up of my department and the ways in which the university is changing, but this is the way "spousal hiring" worked in the past.)

So I guess what I'm saying is that in my context my problem with spousal hiring is as much a problem with "inside candidate hiring" as it is anything else. And, looking at the history of my department, I don't see where either practice has worked to benefit women (either as a group or as individuals).

On Working in a Department with Colleagues Who Are Married to One Another and Who Have Children

The proponents of spousal hiring often talk about spousal hiring as a way of promoting gender equity in the workplace, and of supporting women's prospects in academe more specifically. The logic of this, as far as I can tell involves the following suppositions: a) women are more likely to give up an academic career in the service of family, so hiring spouses makes more opportunities for women in the profession; b) women, who typically serve as primary caregivers for children, benefit from not being put into the position of having to live apart from their partners, i.e., if we make sure that both parents are in the same location, then the work of parenting can be shared more equitably, which is good for women.

I get the logic. But how I've seen this play out on the ground is a whole lot uglier. In my experience, the patriarchal constraints of marriage and child-rearing can be reinforced by the practice of having both spouses employed in the same department (and this is whether the initial trailing spouse was the female half of the marriage or the male half). So. Let's think about what the situation would have been if both partners hadn't been hired and granted tenure. According to the logic above, the woman would have felt compelled to abandon her career in order to follow her husband, and then the husband would have the benefit of her uncompensated labor and would be able to outperform his female colleagues, while his wife would have given up her own career ambitions in the service of her husband. Bad. Patriarchy. I get that. But. What I've seen happen when both spouses are hired is not that you get two great colleagues. Rather, you get one colleague for the price of two. Only one colleague will be present at any given meeting. The Parent-Colleagues expect that their teaching schedules will be organized so that neither is on campus at the same time. The Parent-Colleagues form a voting block, and one speaks for the other. And, since research isn't a high priority at our institution, one of them doesn't actually do any research post-tenure, and instead cruises along at the associate level getting paid a full-time, tenured salary, while performing all of the duties of a stay-at-home parent. Who makes up for the work that this person doesn't do? A lot of times that falls to women colleagues without children. So, this "feminist solution" that keeps families together has the potential at an institution like mine to reinforce an inequitable division of labor in the home and to exacerbate in inequitable division of labor in the workplace.

And Then There's the Issue of Equitable Pay

So now I'm turning to FSP's original post about her salary situation, and then to Historiann's post about it. In this profession, the reality for both women and men is that raises/resources are scarce, particularly once one achieves tenure. Salary compression sucks. Compounding that suckitude is the fact that women face barriers to negotiating salary at the time of hiring, which puts them behind before they even start. I'm not disputing any of that. Actually, I'll go even further. It's also the case that women are often not given commensurate rewards for performance while on the job, or incentives commensurate with those given to male colleagues to perform at higher levels.

I think the thing that gets me, however, about the conversations about salary is that the playing field within the profession - which demands that one, whether male or female, either get a new job, get an offer that your current institution will counter in order to keep you, or to move into administration - disadvantages women (as a group) more than it disadvantages men (as a group). Here are some reasons why this bugs me: 1) it seems to assume that all women in the profession are place-bound, married mommies (and that being a married mommy means that one is place-bound) or have a strong desire to become place-bound, married mommies, and that the status quo in terms of how to get a raise is an obstacle to women's one true vocation in life - wifehood and motherhood; 2) it assumes that all men, even if they have children or are married, are free and mobile and that they can just pick up and move without a second thought; 3) it assumes that all single and/or childless folks have no commitment to place or reasons for not wanting to uproot themselves in terms of location or job. The fact is, place-bounded-ness is a problem in this profession whether one is male/female, gay/straight, parenting/child-free, old/young, tenured/untenured/unemployed, married/unmarried. This is not some dirty secret that is hidden from people until after they get tenure. When you choose the profession, this is one of the things that you choose.

This is not to say that salary inequity is excusable or that we shouldn't fight against it. I think that we should. But in terms of negotiating strategies, saying something along the lines of "colleague X makes more than I do and it's not fair" is not a great one. Now, if one can look at the salary data for women vs. men across an entire department or institution and show that there is across-the-board inequity, that's a different thing. Or if one can demonstrate one's market value beyond the institution, and then use that to leverage for a raise, that's also another thing. But to say, "I'm a woman and so for that reason I can't go on the market or move or go into administration, but I want a higher salary because Joe Blow has one?" Yeah, if I were a person doling out raises, I don't think I'd find that too compelling an argument. And the reality of the profession is that nobody - male or female - can walk into an administrator's office and say, "I did really amazing work this year and I deserve a $10K raise" and expect anything but laughter. I don't know how it works at your shop or in your discipline, but at/in mine, when there are raises (which there aren't now), it's done by percentage, and the difference between people who get the baseline and the people who get a bit more for merit is negligible. And with promotion, the bump is a set percentage - no room for negotiating there.

Let me make this clear: I believe in equal pay for equal work. Without a doubt. Individually, I'm a victim of salary compression, and I just bought a house and am in the most glutted of all glutted fields and probably will never be competitive for another job again, so I'm not going anywhere anytime soon and I'm never going to see some huge jump in salary. I'm place-bound, and at least for the moment I have no desire to move into administration. But none of those things relate to my biological sex or to the constraints of gender. This is not about systemic inequity, at least in my case. It's just one of the (many) opportunity costs of pursing an academic career.

Conclusion?

Having written all of this out, I'm not sure what to say in conclusion. I know that the personal is political, and I realize that all of these broader issues relate back to individual women's lives, and thus are feminist issues. And let me state again that I'm not actually "against" any of the posts to which I linked or to the issues that they raise. But I do get frustrated when I feel like when we talk about "women's issues" we're really talking about "issues for women who either are now or who will most certainly become married and/or mothers." And I get frustrated when we talk about "issues in the profession" but we're really talking about "issues at research institutions that are well-funded." I'm not saying that we should substitute my individual situation (unmarried, childless, at a regional, public, primarily teaching institution) for "the situation of all women" or that such a substitution would be preferable or good in any way. I am just looking for a little more complexity when we talk about "women's issues in the profession."

28 comments:

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Your spouses in the same department stuff is quite accurate.

JaneB said...

Your spouses in the same department stuff - I've seen that in a very decent research university in the sciences too. Drives me nuts! My instinct-level reaction against a lot of spousal hiring practices is that whatever way you slice it people like me (single/childless/female) seem to lose out in nearly every scenario. Which is selfish. But... noone else is going to look out for me!

Nik said...

My whole department is married to each other--without kids though. So, because my husband isn't an academic and I do have kids, I experience some challenging (is the word challenging always a euphemism?) departmental politics. Fortunately, now that we're under budgetary doom, no one will ever get a raise again so we won't have to trouble ourselves with difficult negotiations.

Shane in Utah said...

Full disclosure: Like Profgrrl's husband, I am a beneficiary of a spousal hire. I like to think I am a positive endorsement for the policy, as I am now one of the most prolific scholars in the department...

There are at least five others in my department who were "hires of opportunity." All of them have worked out well, I think. But years of reading this and other blogs, and my experiences at other universities, have convinced me that my department is special in a lot of ways: it's a family-friendly department, but everyone pulls their weight.

Part of the success of my school's policy, though, is that it is carefully and transparently spelled out in the faculty code, so there is none of the skullduggery you describe. If that's your primary objection to spousal accomodations at your place, the solution is easy: codify your university's policy.

kfluff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kfluff said...

Thinking through the effects of spouses in the same department is a useful addition to the spousal hire conversation, fer sure.

Sadly, there is also the spouses-in-same-department becoming no-longer-spouses but staying in the same department.

Awkward.

And more to your point: in the case of my department, this means that one (or both) do as little service, office hours, etc. as they can in order to avoid each other. On the one hand, it's hard to blame them. Who wants to spend lots of time around an ex-spouse? On the other hand, the duties that they avoid have to be done by someone...

Ann said...

Dr. Crazy--I don't understand why my post is lumped with these other two. FSP's case has nothing to do with family/gender issues aside from the fact that she is female. In a year in which the administrator she writes of acknowledges that she had a "spectacular year" w/r/t all of the things upon which merit increases are supposed to be based--grants, publications, research, teaching, etc.--she was informed that "he was going to allocate what few extra resources he had at his discretion to some [all male] assistant professors. He said his decision is not based on 'merit' but on what he thinks is fair." When she pointed out that her salary suffered from some (un)fairness issues, she was scolded and told that she should have negotiated harder for her starting salary 10 years ago. But, it's apparently "fair" for him to reward the presumably similarly poor negotiators (all male) with a super-special salary increase this year.

Later in the post, she mentions something about a spousal hire, but that's not anything I saw as central to her main point, which was more about the rules for compensation being rejiggered on the spot to her disadvantage and to her (male) colleagues' advantage.

Historiann.com

Susan said...

So this is very interesting to me, as last week I was approached by someone in a very different field about the spouse of an existing assist. prof who is just getting a degree from Very Fancy University, with a one year post doc at another VFU. We are an R1, but definitely NOT VFU, but a budget constrained state university in an unfancy place, but not easy commuting to other places.

Said spouse works in a field that fits in my group. It's one that I would be interested in, but it's not in our strategic plan for about a decade (depending on how long the state budget remains terrible). So my take was that if the existing guy's program fights for it to keep him here, we would think about her, as long as it didn't count for about 5 years.

We have some other spousal hires in our group, but all pull their weight. In one case, the spouse is more respected than the original hire :)

Our process in such cases is to have a vote of the faculty to waive the search process, and then the person comes to campus for a regular interview day, and they get voted on like any other candidate. So it's very open. (The deals about where the lines come from, not so much.)

We do have a system of ongoing review, so if someone was not pulling their weight, it would show up in an routine review. And it might delay a promotion...

Dr. Crazy said...

Quickly, because I need to continue with the packing (which goes very slowly).

Ann - I think the reason why your and FSP's posts connected in my head with the ones about spousal hiring had more to do with things that came up in the comment threads of all of them where people made broad statements about "women's experiences" in the profession generally, i.e., "women benefit from spousal hires" or "women are at a disadvantage in terms of negotiating salary because they're place-bound" etc. In other words, I know that the individual posts ultimately don't have a whole lot to do with one another. But the sweeping statements about what it is to be female and academic DO have something in common in my head, and that was what I was trying to get at (though maybe not totally clearly) in the post.

As for FSP's individual situation, as I noted both over at your place and in this post - it sucks. And I think I made it totally clear that I believe in pay equity, and that there are a lot of structural obstacles in academia to that. I will say, however, that I also think that two issues are converging in FSP's post - gender on the one hand and salary compression due to rank on the other. And I think if we're talking about the latter, that affects men in as crappy a way as it affects women. I don't buy the whole "men are footloose and fancy free and can move at a moment's notice" argument.

Kfluff - Totally on the divorce thing. HIDEOUS. If there's one reason why I would be against spousal hires within the same department no matter what the institution or what the policy, it's that.

Shane - I think you're right that a transparent policy - that is applied fairly and across-the-board - is key to such hires working well. That said, I'm not taking up that fight at my institution right now. A) In a time where everything must be "revenue neutral," there would be no administrative support for a policy of this kind and B) All of the people who benefit from the status quo would organize to stab me in my sleep for being anti-family and anti-child and anti-flexibility and anti-their-own-special-and-unique-privileges. Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not against fighting the good fight for things that matter, but I'm much more concerned about other issues with workload and scheduling and class size right now than with this.

Nik - Thanks for chiming in with your experience, and actually, what you're describing reflects some things I've witnessed too - that mothers in my department whose spouses work outside of the department have been treated REALLY shabbily. In other words, "family friendly" is great for the people who all work in the department, but not so much for those who aren't "department families."

JaneB and IPF- Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing that my experiences aren't unique (which makes me feel good and like I'm not alone but also horrible that this is not just a particular quirk of my institution).

~profgrrrrl~ said...

I have to say, I would have a problem with the process that you describe re: spousal hiring as well -- even if I were the beneficiary. I see that being uncomfortable for the person hired as well as for the people who simply watch it happen around them and find themselves dealing with the fallout. I believe the procedures for selecting new faculty and tenuring them, in which the department votes and majority rules (although granted the dean may overrule), should be followed in all cases.

My only experiences with such things are at large public research institutions and big-money private research institutions. The process at my university is fairly transparent, and the department has a say. Indeed, supposing a dean even passes along the hire to the department (I've heard of the "no" coming at that level), the department can say no at any point. I watched the process unfold that way at 402U a few years ago. And there are various married faculty couples at TU -- not sure if marriage or the jobs came first in some of those situations. There are also a variety of other opportunity and target hires at TU.

I can see how things would be quite different at another type of university. Admittedly, I don't understand how those institutions work (the idea of hiring someone on a non-tenure line and then writing up a tenure line for them when one opens up -- I must've heard of that before, but the idea of it happening in my department at least seems quite unlikely). And I'm glad you wrote this post because else I wouldn't be thinking about the differences at various institution types. Clearly that was an element lacking in The Chronicle article, and perhaps it helps explain the gulf between commenters and author.

I tried to write about the process from a personal perspective because I really don't have any greater political comment to make on it. It is what it is, and there are various aspects of our story that I'm not entirely uncomfortable sharing (because I'm terrified someone with the attitude I saw in the Chronicle will be angry and find some way of attacking us and somehow make it all fall apart even though logically that makes no sense) that make it even more personal. Ours is not the standard new hire case, nor is it a case of playing counter-offers. Maybe (see, I'm working through this as I write) that's what bothered me so much about those comments. They made me feel like we can't talk about it, that 402's hire has to be the elephant in the room that will trod over us angrily if at all acknowledged. I don't like feeling that way about our future.

I guess I'm also tired of seeing the attacks that come out categorically against people, which is where I started my post. Seeing the spousal hire venom was just the most recent of a host of such things I've seen that have made me feel uncomfortable, as if whole classes of people would consider me an awful person because of some of my life circumstances and choices.

(Yikes, I've written a novella in your comments. And I'm out of steam, but feel like I hardly had a point. Sorry.)

geekmommyprof said...

My husband was a non-tenure track spousal hire. We as a family are very grateful for this oportunity. Just because he was hired as an addendum to me does not mean he does not have his own worth, and after a few years at the University, I am sure he is valued as his own person. I think he would have preferred not to have been a spousal hire, but sometimes you have to swallow a bit of pride for what's best for the family. He loves his job, btw, it's a good fit, and we're happy with the situation overall. At my university, there is a well-established spousal hire program and its base is that if faculty aren't happy (and they are not happy if they cannot be with their family) they will leave so it's ultimately a loss of resource for the University. I wish everyone would stop assuming that the spousal hires are somehow 'poor value.'

Ann said...

Gotcha, Dr. C. I understand. I also agree that it's not as neat and clean as some of the comments at FSP's place might suggest, but I think it's pretty true across the board that straight married men are privileged in ways that the rest of us aren't (non-straight, non-married, and/or non-men). But, the wage gap in academia is worse than in other professions--and it's true across the board when controlling for all factors besides sex.

I thought FSP's example was illustrative of how a woman was denied a suitable merit increase so that men--who had not performed as well, and who also hadn't negotiated their salaries well or brought any outside offers to the table--would be favored. That to me was the nut of the issue. FSP's personal particulars mattered less in her story than her sex, IMHO. (Or, should I say that the actual performance and value of her junior male colleages' work mattered less than their sex, apparently.)

Historiann.com

Janice said...

Riffing off of your title trilogy (gender, equity, mobility), let's consider elements touched on in FSP's post and Historiann's commentary -- the way in which gender plays into ideas of what's appropriate behaviour for professional men and women.

Professionals should negotiate their salary. Yet professional women who do so are accused of being "ball-breakers" or nasty.

Women should follow their men in the conventional wisdom of society. Yet academic women who are single or who live apart from a partner (male or female) are often dumped on ("work'll keep her busy") or subtly dismissed ("she'll stop being so serious about the job when she finds a man").

I'll finish with a story that came to me from a former student. He's teaching at a college in a remote town. You think that I live somewhere away from it all, you should see where he teaches! He told me about how he's got long-term contracts and some of the best job security in the college. A female peer? She just got offered an eight month contract.

He's told that he's considered a catch by women in his community (and this inspired freaked-out bemusement on his part). His highly educated peer is being told that she's overeducated for any of the guys around there. The not-so-subtle implication is that he's welcome to settle in but she's expected to go.

There you have my musings on gender, equity and mobility. I don't have time at the present to tackle spousal hirings but I think that it's painfully mixed up in all of this (along with the common assumption that the woman's the "trailing spouse" and/or the one who ought to "show some gratitude" for the institutional largesse that made it possible for them to be together).

PhysioProf said...

This is not to say that salary inequity is excusable or that we shouldn't fight against it. I think that we should. But in terms of negotiating strategies, saying something along the lines of "colleague X makes more than I do and it's not fair" is not a great one.

This was the point of my comment on FSP's post. If you're gonna walk into an administrators office and use language like "it's not fair", you may as well just say "don't worry; you can keep fucking me over, because I'm not going to do anything about it". Administrator's don't give a fuck about abstract subjective shit like "fairness"; they give a shit about consequences. The only thing that's gonna move an administrator away from the status quo is the threat of a bad consequence, or the promise of a good conseqence.

Right or wrong, this is a very practical heuristic for administrators to employ in the face of a constant onslaught of demands for action.

Terminal Degree said...

My spouse and I work in the same division (different departments, luckily, but about 100 yards apart). Neither of us was a spousal hire (we were hired at the same time, met at New Faculty Orientation, and got married two years later). However, all of these posts that you linked to are posts that I've been reading with interest, too.

One of the comments that has come up on several of the posts is about faculty spouses voting as a unit. I think there's a tendency to do this, sure, because people tend to marry like-minded people, so they tend to have similar opinions. However, I've had incidences here at my college this year in which it is assumed that I agree with whatever my husband has said. On several occasions I've disagreed with him publicly about an academic issue, which tends to raise eyebrows. (How dare the little woman disagree with her man! Or, how dare the man try to "make" his wife have his opinion!) We don't have problems disagreeing with each other. Our problem is with people who assume we will always have the same opinion. We're two brains, not one!

Anyhow, you bring up interesting points. Thanks.

hylonome said...

The problem is, of course, that the IHE author is right about the reality of commuting spouses--absent from campus, resistant to committee work, etc. My partner and I (both tenured) maintain an absurdly long commute between our 2 SLACs and neither of us are on campus much. If not commuting, we're writing because neither teaching nor service will solve this problem for us. It's a mess.

So cheers and congrats to prffgrrrl!

FrauTech said...

I thought your specific stories about two married academics working in the same department were the most interesting. Of course that kind of thing does not go on in the private sector (pictures on your desk are pretty much the only time you're allowed to see your children). I'm always amazed by how many days academics work at home and all that and so it's no surprise to me those with kids would take advantage of that.

However, there's an easy solution here; decent daycare with enough open seats to accomodate faculty. I mean, what does the dept secretary do? She can't coordinate with her husband so that one of them is always home, she has to put that kid in daycare. Probably somewhere offsite and overpriced. You make it a condition of a faculty member's employment that their children are in daycare and you make that not impossible for them by having one on your campus or nearby with an agreement. I remember Dr. Isis's post about the great daycare center she visited on her campus only to find out the waiting list was years long. I agree it's annoying when this happens to the childless and/or single colleagues, but they also have the same benefits of being able to work from home every now and then so you can't chuck the whole system.

I do disagree with your assertion that men who want to move don't have it any easier. Unfortunately even in "equal" marriages amongst educated people there's still a disparity in who takes on the extra work/planning and who accomodates the other person and very often in today's society it is still the wife. As already mentioned a women in academia is probably far more likely to be married to a man in academia than visa versa. I think an unspoken agreement of putting a spousal hire on the tenure track after a few years is pretty bogus, but giving them a job/adjunct position is not. That's how you recruit good talent.

Found your other points rather interesting, thanks.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for the continued comments, y'all. I have just 26 hours before movers are here (!!!) and today shall be a day of frantic packing. GAAAAHHHH!!!!

But anyway, since I'm allowing myself some down-time with coffee before I commence on the Frantic Packing, let me just say that I'm really enjoying the comment thread to this post because of the wide range of responses that people are offering.

A few things:

(1) I'm so happy for you and 402, Profgrrrrl, and I appreciated that you gave a personal narrative of how you guys got to the same institution. In reading that, I thought, "Hey, that's how it's SUPPOSED to work!" I think the problem with Chronicle columns is that because of the fact that they are featured in "the newspaper of higher education" that people respond to "opinion" as "edict" and then they go nutso. The two (and only two) comments that stood out to me in that thread as sensible were one that said "It seems clear that people who've benefited from spousal hires are in favor of them, and those who've been negatively affected by them are not" and another that said, "Shame on the Chronicle for presenting a piece that comes from such a narrow institutional perspective" (I'm paraphrasing here). Otherwise? The whole thread was people just freaking out in one direction or the other.

Geekmommyprof wrote: "I wish everyone would stop assuming that the spousal hires are somehow 'poor value.'" Just to be clear, I don't think that I ever assumed that or indicated that anywhere in my post. I talked about what I've witnessed with the spousal hires in my own department. This is not to say that there can't be positive spousal hire situations. It's just to say that at my institution, spousal hires have historically led to particular kinds of dysfunction, which I'd say aren't good either for the spouses involved, for their colleagues, or for students.

Janice, I get what you're saying about women negotiating, and I think I noted that this is a problem (though not so forcefully) in my post. I suppose what I always wonder is, however, what we're supposed to do with that information. My tendency is to believe that the more women who negotiate effectively, the more difficult that it will be for such stereotypes about negotiating women to persist. I think the more that women themselves promote the stereotype - "you'll be called a bitch or a ball-breaker if you negotiate and you're a woman" (even if it is true in many cases) - that it doesn't do anything to benefit women. This is not me saying that such sexism isn't a problem. This is me saying that at a certain point we have to think about solutions, and I guess I don't see not negotiating as a solution, so if it's not, then women are going to have to negotiate even if it means people are going to find them bitchy for doing so. Maybe there's a larger structural solution that would get us out of that either/or, but I'm cynical enough to believe that it's unlikely that one will be implemented anytime in my lifetime.

Dr. Crazy said...

PhysioProf: Yes. And I'd add: the best time to negotiate for anything is BEFORE you have done the spectacular work - not after. I've learned that the hard way. It's easy to be denied resources when you've already done what you would have needed the resources to compensate. (And this is why the attitude of FSP's dean does actually make sense to me from an administrative standpoint in terms of giving resources to the juniors in the tale. They as a group can use the resources to be more productive and to produce something that without those resources they couldn't produce. Addressing FSP's situation doesn't produce anything new, and so it's not a good investment. This is not to say that I agree with the inequity of her situation - just that I get where the admin. is coming from.)

TD - thanks for chiming in. I think I find this tendency more annoying in my context - and more diabolical - because the people in question don't actually attend meetings together (even meetings that are required of them both) and that's where I have a hard time accepting that they just happen to have the same opinion. But I can see where I would be frustrated if I were in your situation as well.

Hylonome - I do see what you're saying. In my situation, nobody in my department (and nobody I know at my university, actually) is in a long-commute situation, so I wasn't addressing that at all.

Dr. Crazy said...

Frau Tech:

A couple of things.

"I agree it's annoying when this happens to the childless and/or single colleagues, but they also have the same benefits of being able to work from home every now and then so you can't chuck the whole system."

In theory, yes, but at my place, no. Yes, I have a three-day-a-week teaching schedule, and in the fall I actually had a two-day-a-week teaching schedule. I would estimate that most weeks, in spite of that fact, I'm on campus five days a week. It's true, sometimes it's only for an hour or two for a meeting, but I suppose the point is, there's no "but I can't go to a meeting during the regular work week during regular work hours" provision for me. So yes, my weekly schedule varies, and I do benefit from that flexibility. I'm not saying that I don't benefit from that. But when a meeting is called, I'm expected to show up, and if I don't, it reflects negatively on me (as I think it should). The practice in my department has been that the same is not expected of the department parent-colleagues. (Though it is expected of parents - especially mothers - whose spouses are not in the department - go figure. In other words, I'm not talking about the expectations for parents generally vs. people without kids generally - I'm talking about what it is when you have spouses who have children within my department, and about the differing expectations that have historically been in play for that particular group. I agree that accessible and affordable daycare is an ideal solution, by the way. But if my colleagues who have children who are NOT married to other colleagues in the department are expected to show up, it seems tremendously bogus that colleagues who are married and have children don't have to abide by the same rules.)

Dr. Crazy said...

"As already mentioned a women in academia is probably far more likely to be married to a man in academia than visa versa. I think an unspoken agreement of putting a spousal hire on the tenure track after a few years is pretty bogus, but giving them a job/adjunct position is not. That's how you recruit good talent."

I'm going to throw out a totally unsupported-by-data theory here. I'm going to suggest that while it is true that men across all fields are less likely to be married to women who are either a) not academics or b) in professional careers that are difficult to transport, that perhaps many of the women who are married to academics are married to English professors. Less than a quarter of the men in the department fall into the category of men who have wives who DON'T fall into those categories. (And if we eliminate single men, we're talking about less than 15% probably.) The majority of the men in my department who are married are either married to academics or are married to other professional women who couldn't easily up and move.

So. First, let me first admit that I think I did here what I accused other people of doing with "women" - I talked about all "men's " experiences as if they're identical, which is stupid.

But so, with that being said, I think another discipline-specific thing is the attractiveness (or likelihood) of a "job" or an adjuncting gig. In my world, instructorships are being slashed. So the likelihood of any partner getting full-time teaching now (and this was different, say, 5 or so years ago) is very, very small. And our provost has decreed that new instructorships (even when there's a great argument for them - even when we want an instructor INSTEAD of a t-t line) will not be added. So what we'd have to offer would be part-time teaching. In my department, part-time instructors make, per course, make between 2K and $2500. In other words, in order to make 20K before taxes, a spouse would need to teach 4 courses per term, with no benefits and no retirement - not to mention no office in which to meet students or a choice of what courses to teach and they'd still have to pay for a parking permit. Newly hired tenure-line faculty are coming in at around 45-50K.

In other words, offering a spouse part-time employment in the department, which is likely to disappear with the next round of budget cuts, is not likely to make the difference between getting our #1 pick and not.

Anastasia said...

This: "You make it a condition of a faculty member's employment that their children are in daycare"

You cannot tell me what to do with my children as a condition of my employment.

geekmommyprof said...

Dear Dr. C,

Your post triggered quite a debate on YFS . I am a strong proponent of spousal hires, spousal placement assistance, and affirmative action. These are not perfect but have overall had an extremely positive impact on women's ability to keep their careers. More details on why spousal hires are not the enemy can be found here.

Thanks for the post!

Winter said...

Whenever I read your posts on this subject, I am struck by how your school and department is Opposite Land from my experiences in the academy. I have colleagues, married with kids, and they are the ones on time to every meeting, taking the 5 day teaching schedule, etc. This makes sense to me, since working 9-5 (or 8-6) and then spending the rest of your time with the family works for my family. (I've found that a lot of academics have middle-class incomes and upper-class ideas of child care which requires them to fill in for the work a nanny or stay at home spouse might do. I suspect that this describes your colleagues by reading between the lines, but I digress. I, too, would hate working with your colleagues.)

In addition, only three of the men in my large department are married to an academic. Out of 70 people. We're about 95% sure of this. They are married to stay at home spouses, college administrators, and freelancers. Most of the women are married to academics. This is also the case with my many friends from college and grad school that are now academics. So, when I read your post, I can only assume I live in Opposite Land.

However, I do know that there are lots of [female] scholars out there working on the salary negotiation problem quite seriously. It is not simply an issue of "learning to negotiate better," although that helps. It is not just an issue of "doing it like a man," because women get subsequently punished in the workplace even if they are successful in their negotiations. One of the most successful tactics is negotiating for someone else, "I need this raise to take care of my elderly parents." A huge problem is that women that get a competing offer are seen as "disloyal," and subsequently punished in the workplace. Men that do the same are "ambitious." So, there are other academics out there working on this issue, studying it and thinking up solutions, and the answer is definitely not just "ask for more" and "get better at negotiating."

At my institution, it is now written policy to work towards gender equity in salaries. So, I have colleagues that have successfully gone to their chair and said "he is paid 25% more than me for the same work" and the chair says "okay, let's fix that." When an institution takes it upon itself to fix unequal salaries, it works. And, I do believe that's the best solution I've heard of to date.

And, finally, I feel like these posts put a lot on the shoulders of young female (and male) academics taking a job for the first time. How exactly is a 29 year old that's been writing about Haydn string quartets for 4 years supposed to suddenly become a master negotiator, even if she does the leg work and research into the topic? How exactly is her friend, after 6 years in the archives, supposed to know that this promise of a TT job in 4-5 years will cause resentment in the department down the road because it isn't the job she worked her butt off for, but actually an inside hire? I'm not saying that young men and women starting out their academic careers are hopelessly naive. However, if you compare them to the administrators and colleagues that actually have the power to make changes to the system, then yes, yes they are.

karen said...

Hi Crazy, Your experience with the married faculty in your dept who do not pull their weight is so unlike my experience at regional campus of big university. There is a married couple in English and one in History and they kind of lead the humanities. This is partly because both live in crappy town where our campus is, have children who attend the local schools, and are invested in the community as a whole. The slackers tend to be faculty who live in city of main campus, an hour and a half away. It’s a sizable portion of the faculty, I’d estimate as much as a third. That’s how crappy the town of regional campus is. In English faculty don’t teach Fridays, and it’s understood to be a day when meetings are scheduled. But one male full professor (and there are others like this) who lives in big city refuses to come to campus days when he doesn’t teach. It’s an extra 3 hr drive round trip, so annoying. I won’t make generalizations about tenured male professors who are divorced and 60 yrs old, though. Anyway, this is a scheduling issue. The only faculty member I ever encountered who did not attend meetings was a t-t single woman who did not pass her 4th yr review. She hated the job and basically had checked out. Although it wasn’t the reason for her negative review, missing meetings was considered outrageous behavior by everyone. So that’s just another point of view. Anyway, I’m wondering if there are multiple parenting couples in your dept who slack, or one who is especially annoying? I think it’s important not to generalize. Congratulations on your move!

FrauTech said...

Anastasia - I certainly didn't mean the employer could specify what to do with their children. However, in the private sector if you work from home that is generally with an agreement and if you have young kids still at home you usually "agree" to get a nanny for your kids or put them in daycare. Because if you are "working" from home and your four year old is there and you're the only adult, you're probably not working. I'm not sure how this works in academia, but it seems like it should still be possible that if the academic is "working" from home there is some level of agreement as to what is happening with the kids. I know professors aren't hourly, but most telecommuters are not either, they are professional, exempt employees. Once again academia has its own set of rules that allow people to abuse this sort of thing I'm sure, and I guess if it's a tenured professor what are you going to do. But it seems like a pro-active dean or administrator could make sure this is not a problem in their department.

Anastasia said...

I don't know. My husband worked at home for years in a corporate job. They didn't care if he worked with a baby on his knee as long as he got shit done. And he did, which is why no one asked him any questions about his childcare arrangement. Do your job. Be where you need to be. Do what it takes to get it done. The rest of your life is your own business.

Cherish said...

Just to throw in a comment on child care: it probably depends more than anything on how tied down you are to a physical location. My husband can and does work from home on occasion (especially in the instance of a sick child). Likewise, he's brought our son into work for a time when childcare was unavailable. No one has complained about either situation, although he tries to keep it as intermittent as possible. On the other hand, the fact that I live in a different city makes people a lot more understanding of the situation. But what do you do in the case where you are tied to a lab or other similar situation? Or what if people aren't so understanding? Unfortunately, it is a situation which I have confronted on several occasions, and I can't help but wonder if the discrepancy (my husband gets understanding whereas I get told that I'm not committed) is due to my being female.

This is part of the reason that I think spousal hires are necessary (and the point that Anastasia made on her blog recently): if it comes down to a choice between my kids and a career, it makes sense for me to choose the kids/family and leave academia. My husband makes more money than I could ever make in academia, so him leaving his job to support me would have a very bad impact on our finances. His position is a lot more certain than mine. And with the economy, him moving to the place I'm living just simply isn't possible. And he's supposedly got a 'mobile' job since he's not an academic...