There’s been a bit of conversation around the philosophy blogosphere about the state of jobs in the profession. Some of the most recent chatter, linked to by Leiter here and here, is about whether young philosophers today have a sense of “entitlement” in their expectations.
Among the claims made:
To be happy as a professor, you don’t need to teach in buildings that win architectural awards. You don’t need a two-course-a-semester load to publish (I published during my first years in Birmingham, despite teaching nine or 10 courses a year). You don’t need your university to give you a dedicated blog site or IT personnel to support your home computer. You need a tenure-track job, and then you need to work hard at the three things we are expected to do: teach students who want to learn, publish about things you care about, and be a good academic citizen through service to your institution and field. That’s the deal. If it doesn’t sound good enough, then maybe you should try bartending in San Francisco. And when you do, lots of adjuncts will apply for your job.
When, as a grad student I and some others were grousing about the poor adjunct pay at a local state college, another household name who overheard the conversation asked us why we even took a job with such poor wages. Why not simply refuse? He couldn’t grasp that we needed to pay the rent and eat, and didn’t have a 6 figure salary like he did. I remember staring at him in stunned silence. If you spend several years around folks with quarter million dollar salaries, minimal teaching duties, palatial offices, and brilliant undergrads, you start to think that your first job, if not that grand, ought to be better than teaching 8 courses a year to unprepared slackers at some underfunded State U. in fly-over country.
Here’s where I’m thinking the tie-in to feminist concerns may be: what are the expectations of female philosophers (and other minorities, blacks, LGBT persons, etc) and what are the expectations of male philosophers? How do they compare and what gets labeled “entitlement”? Other thoughts to explore may be the role of generational perspective in assessing “entitlement” (as a thirty-something teaching Gen Y students, I bemoan the same problem), misconceptions about philosophy as a career, etc.
Further, how much is happiness a function of our ability to thrive despite not having our ideal environment? And how much do social injustices, or even the lack of local culture, matter?
I’d like to encourage feminist conversation both here and at Leiter’s blog, although I’ll leave cross-posting at reader discretion. (Remember that this is a thread about jobs in philosophy and not Brian Leiter’s interpretation of jobs in philosophy.)