Here’s an interesting article about the perils of tenure. It’s not great for women as the years when one needs to get tenure are also one’s prime years for reproducing. Unsurprisingly, the system developed in the ‘olden’ days when only men were professors. However, the current alternative doesn’t look too hot either: low-paid, sessional teaching which lacks sick pay, pension benefits, and job security. I’m not in the US, so my department has no formal tenure arrangements. But I see the latter phenomenon – people given ten month contracts so they can be continually employed on a temporary basis (someone in continuous employment has to be permanently hired after a certain amount of time); people paid by the hour to teach, resulting in more work, less pay, less security, less benefits; and so on. Some of this seems unavoidable, given the way that jobs are funded – lots of teaching posts come up because someone has obtained research funding, but that only covers teaching replacement for a limited period of time. But it’s certainly the case that the system could be fairer. What do you think?
I should also point out that the low-paid, temporary job thing isn’t great for men either.