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.

5 thoughts on “Tenure

  1. this is one reason (even tho i’m not in the us, so won’t necessarily be subject to the tenure system) i feel alright about my decision to have children while writing my phd. but i know that even this choice isn’t available to all women academics. at the university where i earned my BA (in the us), the student health insurance that was available to postgraduates wouldn’t cover obstetric care. as a 20ish prospective postgraduate, i remember i thought the feminist faculty member who routinely warned postgrad applicants of this was a bit of a worry-wart…what’s the big deal? but now i know what the big deal is!

  2. Sorry! Monkey, I thought you were commenting on the Louisiana problem! i’m getting confused.

    The tenure issue is so important. Good for the president of Princeton to bring it up. I like the idea of hiring part time tt, but I’m wondering about department’s going for it. so many hires are replacements of full time faculty, and often what’s needed badly is another full time person. People interested in a half-time position might find that they can’t say that without risking not being hired at all.

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