April
7th 2009
Adjuncts jumping to the tenure track?

Posted under: Gender, happy endings, jobs

tootletrainYes, indeedy!  P.D. Lesko writes at the Chronicle On Hiring blog,

I have lost many excellent writers over the years that I have been publishing the Adjunct Advocate. Some simply stopped freelancing, and others landed full-time writing jobs. A third group is made up of writers who landed tenure-track jobs; six of them in the past 18 years. They share some of the same characteristics. In fact, the six of them took an almost identical path toward the tenure track. It got so that I could tell which of my freelance writers who were adjuncts on the prowl would, eventually, end up sending me a “Dear P.D.” letter. I have come to think of them as the Six Musketeers.

So how did they do it?  Here are several of the character traits they had in common:

  • Hell bent for leather: Each of the six writers applied for dozens of jobs every year, and never let rejection deter them. They applied for every full-time teaching job opening for which they were qualified. Of course, the sheer number of applications you send out won’t guarantee a full-time teaching job; it’s entirely possible to send out 50 incredibly horrid applications.
  • OCD: None of the six sent out incredibly horrid applications because all of them were compulsively detail-oriented. Their writing assignments were turned in on time, and free of misspelled words or misplaced punctuation marks. Their pieces were always accompanied by sets of detailed interview notes. In short, I could count on their work to be well crafted and easy to edit. They followed directions exceptionally well.

You can click on over to read Lesko’s other “character traits.”  Personally, I think “hell bent for leather,” as in, apply for everything and realize that you may have to move to a less-than-ideal location, and/or take a position that isn’t (yet) your dream job.  Of all of my close friends who have been out of grad school for at least 5 years (excluding some of my departmental colleagues), only one is still in her first job.  Most of my friends are on their second or even third tenure-track jobs–I’m on my second, and that’s not including the 1-1/2 years I taught in non-tenure track jobs.  Here’s more real life data about the value of perseverance:  two of the full-time lecturers in my department are leaving because they accepted tenure-track jobs this year, one after teaching a 4-4 load (plus some summer classes, I think) for four years at Baa Ram U., the other after just two years here. 

I have heard stories anecdotally that many young scholars these days are choosing to limit their job searches geographically–which is fine, of course, so long as they realize that their dream jobs in Chicago or New York or Phoenix may never materialize.  (I’ve also heard recently about a disturbing number of women candidates who decline job offers because of husband/male partner employment, whereas I’ve yet to hear about male candidates who defer to their wives/female partners–it sure seems like wives of male academics are happy to pack up and move wherever.  Maybe these women should have been choosier in selecting a partner who would support their ambitions?  Funny how men can always find women to do that.)  If you can make a living, it might well make sense to hang in there and try again another year, with more experience and more publications.  But life’s paths aren’t always straight and clear, and sometimes the road to your dream job includes a stop at East Northern State U. in a large square state with a 3-3 load.  (And sometimes, you find out that East Northern U. is your dream job after all.)

34 Comments »

34 Responses to “Adjuncts jumping to the tenure track?”

  1. Kathie on 07 Apr 2009 at 7:53 am #

    I am a woman who restricted my searches geographically due primarily to my husband’s employment, although earlier in our marriage we had felt his skills were extremely mobile and expected that we would go wherever I found a job. By the time I finished my PhD he was more established and any tenure track job I might have found would have paid about 1/4 of his income. I did apply widely for a few years, but I do not do American or European history, so my job options were far more limited than in those fields (some years in the early 1990s applying widely meant applying for 2 or 3 jobs nationwide). When nothing turned up, I taught part time for a decade in our city of choice, and when I got tired of that less than optimal situation, I made a (mostly unpaid) career as an independent scholar. I do not miss grading papers or department meetings, and I have been active as a published historian and in various professional organizations.
    I have one male academic friend who went to Japan with his Japanese wife, where she had a job in her field and he has been teaching outside of his own field for twenty years. I don’t believe he is the only male academic to make this choice, though it is certainly true that it is not as common as women following (or remaining with) their husbands.

  2. guez on 07 Apr 2009 at 8:02 am #

    I’d be careful about generalizing. I can think of a number of academic men who have packed up to move with their wives.

  3. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 8:38 am #

    “A number” of men does not mean that the burden of moving is equally distributed in heterosexual relationships. Furthermore, I’m not talking just about two academics–I’m talking about men across all occupations. We all can think of exceptions, but these exceptions are by definition exceptional.

    In my department every man but one on our faculty who was married at the time he was offered a job moved a wife across the country to take a job here (16 men total, 10 of whom brought wives). Of a total of 10 women on the faculty, exactly two brought husbands or male partners with them. The burden of moving may be more egalitarian in large cities or on the coasts, but my department’s record tracks with what I’ve heard from my friends. For example–a neighboring department has 3 women and 11 men in tenured, tenure-track, or full-time lecturer lines. One of those women was married at the time she was hired and brought her husband, whereas 8 of the 10 men were married and brought their wives.

    Those are very dramatically different and disturbing numbers, by my lights.

  4. squadratomagico on 07 Apr 2009 at 8:51 am #

    I find Lesko’s observations interesting. The folks I know who have left academia were all people who refused to consider any position that was not high-prestige, at a research university with a nationally recognizable name. When these (two) individuals did not get the kinds of offers they were looking for, they left for the private sector and commenced raging against the corruptions of academia for the rest of their lives.

    I certainly recognize that academia has its corruptions, but failing to provide an Ivy League job for every History PhD who feels himself entitled to one, is not one of them.

  5. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 8:57 am #

    Sq.–interesting observation. Even in the mid-1990s, when I was on the job market (it took 2 tries to land my first tt job) and things were looking up, I never thought I was entitled to any job, let alone a position at a major R1. I went to an Ivy for my Ph.D., and exactly one of my classmates I can think of are in tenured or tenure-track jobs at Ivies. Most of us ended up at different versions of Big State U. or at SLACs of reasonable stature. (One classmate is at Vanderbilt, the other at Rice–those are the only I can think of at prominent, rich private Unis.)

  6. thefrogprincess on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:12 am #

    The issue of “going anywhere there’s a job” has been on my mind a lot recently and I’m coming to grips with the fact that I’m going to have to do a restrictive search and accept the consequences. I’m single and I’m a woman of color and I don’t want to be alone my entire life so that rules out pretty much every school in a small town or in parts of the country where I’m not sure I’ll be comfortable as a woman of color. The institution where I’m getting my PhD is in a small town and the experience has taught me that I cannot live in small towns, at least not at this point in my life. Of course my search will be more expansive than just New York and LA and I’m willing to teach in certain parts of the South, which I know many people are not willing to do, and I’d readily consider the Northwest and some of the big cities in the Midwest as well as the East Coast. But my happiness and my quality of life are more important to me than a career in which I’m miserable on a daily basis.

    On the point of a husband dragging his wife wherever, even in graduate school I see it happening. There are many more married men than married women in my program. Some of these men are moving their wives and families across the world to do research in a way the married women often don’t. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m really anti-marrying another academic and it will be a big sticking point with me whenever I do get into a relationship. I don’t want my career to be seen as something that’s trivial enough to be put on the backburner in favor of his.

  7. guez on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Regarding your description of your department and other departments at your university, they sound pretty typical. But this is generational and things are changing. That is not to say that the burden is equal, as it should be. But let’s try not to generalize. (Your own example from a neighboring department belies your claims that men can “always” find wives who defer to them or that you have “yet to hear about male candidates who defer to their wives/female partners.”) It’s simply not fair to the men who are doing the right thing.

  8. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:28 am #

    thefrogprincess–thanks for your thoughts on this. I’m sorry that you see it happening already in grad school! Yegads. I guess it has to start somewhere…

    I completely understand your interest in finding a job in a place where you can meet someone–although I would *strongly* suggest that you apply for everything and go on every interview. You can’t really know what a job would be like (or a town/region) would be like unless you visit, and thinking optimistically, you could get an offer that you could use in negotiating a better deal in a big city. (And if worse came to worst, you’d maximize your chances for a job offer, any job offer–and in these hard times you might prefer to make a go of it for a few years in a less-than-ideal location because it offers a salary and health benefits.) You can always say no to job offers–but you’ll never have that opportunity if you don’t even apply or refuse to interview.

  9. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:36 am #

    Guez, it’s not a generational thing–I’m not talking about old geezers who moved here in the 1960s and 1970s. I’m talking about couples who are within 10 years either way of my age (30-50).

    I hardly think that my pointing out the inequality that seems to still be embedded in heterosexual relationships is “simply not fair to the men who are doing the right thing.” If they’re feminist men who are doing the right thing, they’ll do it regardless of what some random person on the internet thinks. And if they’re feminist men, then they’ll agree with my analysis.

    This is a feminist blog. My presumption and the presumption of the majority of the people who comment here is that “patriarchal equilibrium” is still a fact of life. I don’t really care if it hurts the feelings of those legions of guys who are doing the “right thing.” If their feelings are hurt by the discussion here, then I really question their commitment to feminism.

  10. thefrogprincess on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:40 am #

    Historiann, you raise some good points that I’m constantly weighing in my mind. I certainly wouldn’t apply to a place and then refuse to interview there so the real issue for me is applying in the first place. But you’re right, the economic problems right now and a real uncertainty about what job markets are going to look like for the next few years will have to figure into my calculation.

  11. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:48 am #

    thefrogprincess–it never hurts to look, right? And saying “yes” to a campus interview is not a commitment to anything. I just strongly believe that having more options is always better than having fewer options, and the fewer jobs you apply to, the fewer options you’ll have. It sounds to me like you are pretty open-minded geographically–you might get more bites from small-town places than someone who went to NYU (for example), because search committees might assume that you’re down with small-town life because of your grad institution. You might need to emphasize your interest in moving to a big city in your applications! (Although in academia, I think most people assume that Ph.D.s are cosmopolitan, even if their home institutions aren’t…)

  12. guez on 07 Apr 2009 at 10:47 am #

    Historiann,

    Let me be clear: I am not complaining about your feminism, nor am I am contesting the reality of the “patriarchal equilibrium.” If “men who do the right thing” and sacrifice their careers (or adjust their expectations) for their partners take offense at that kind of feminist analysis, then fine, so be it. What’s not fair is denying that such men (or their female partners) exist. I realize that such claims are largely rhetorical, but I hardly see how they are helpful to couples who are struggling to balance relationships, careers, and families in an equitable manner.

    P.S. I discovered this blog via the thread about Lawrence Stone. What I got out of that discussion was not merely that Stone was a representative of a (justly) discredited strand of family history, but that he was dogmatic, narrow-minded, and patronizing. He refused to listen (or let others listen) to historical voices and realities that didn’t fit into his world view.

  13. Z on 07 Apr 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    There is something to knowing who you are, though, and what you like. I have tried and tried to be as flexible both in terms of institutions and geography as one is supposed to be.

    The facts continue to be what I knew in the first place: I like and am liked in large urban public research universities, and there is no way around this. Having to be at a private school, or at a non research school, or at an incestuous small school, or in the relentless suburbs far from a sidewalk or other forms of urban relief, just is not worth it to me … it’s antithetical to me … and I have transferable skills, so why subject myself to that?

    When I say these are my feelings, people always tell me I should not feel “entitled” to the kind of job I want. But I have never said I was entitled to such a job, just that I wanted such a job and was willing to do something else if I did not get one. People were so freaked out that I would be willing to do something else that they had to believe I felt “entitled.” They would not recognize self knowledge, nor would they acknowledge a statement of taste, so they harangued about entitlement and how one should be willing to subject oneself to anything. I found that quite masochistic, and thought this was yet another reason one should not just take any job … look who one’s colleagues would be!

    So, I am with the frogprincess on this. Do interview around … there IS always the chance that you’ll discover you like a place you didn’t expect to like, and interviews are good practice, and you may meet people you like. But don’t try to talk yourself into taking a job you have a sinking feeling about.

    *****

    Geography: the South, if you’re in a city, is actually a lot more sophisticated, open, and culturally diverse than the Northeast, and more relaxed, I find as a person from West of the Rockies. The Midwest is exotic: you get to see real Americana, things are efficient, and people are honest. Not being from the Midwest I am not yet tired of snow, and I am not affected by Lutheran guilt the way some natives are. SO: I was taught that civilization lay only West of the Rockies and in New York / New England, and that you had to fear the Midwest and South, but in practice I’ve discovered that while I agree, the far west / Pacific coast are best, the Midwest and South are also great, and sacrilegious though it may be, I don’t care if I never set foot in New England again.

    So, you see, it is not that I am not open to learning new things about what I might like. It is just that I am not willing to utterly betray my all of my ACADEMIC interests and tastes for the sake of showing I care about academia and am willing to make sacrifices for it.

  14. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    Guez, you claim I said something I never said. I said only that there are many fewer husbands who follow wives than vice-versa, and I provided evidence of that where I work and in a neighboring department. I won’t allow your complaints about imaginary comments take over this thread. Please respond to what people actually write, or just stop reading now. Also, please see the comments policy here–your swipe at me via your comments about Stone is dishonest.

    To repeat: this is a feminist blog, and a space friendly to feminist conversations. It’s not a space for patting a few men on the back for being feminists.

    Z.–good on you. I just think it pays when one is on the job market for the first time to apply broadly and see what happens. I certainly agree with you that no one should take a job they don’t feel good about. (That’s a mistake I made once, and won’t make again! I should have listened to my instincts when the chair of that department tried to bully me when I dared to negotiate for a higher salary…)

  15. blue epiphany on 07 Apr 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    In my small grad department, the cases for recent PhD’s are: one single woman, one woman whose male partner is following her, and three men whose female partners are following them.
    From my perspective as a grad student, it seems that for pairs with one academic and one non-academic partner, they go where the academic (male or female) gets a job. For academic pairs, though, it seems to depend on who gets their PhD first. In the cases I’ve seen, that’s often the man (the woman I mentioned above whose male partner is following her is an exception; she got her PhD 1/2 year ago, he’s still finishing his, she has a post doc and he’s looking for something in that area).
    Maybe a relevant question is, how often do men, as opposed to women, pair up with someone whose career is farther advanced?

  16. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    blue ephiphany–good question. Because straight women tend to choose male partners who are 2+ years older and 2+ inches taller, this means that it’s probably much more common that they choose men who are more advanced in grad school or in their careers.

  17. GayProf on 07 Apr 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    I have wondered if it is worth pointing out that most careers will out last most relationships. The awful truth is that it might not be worth the trying of moving together for many (though obviously not all) people. It might really, really not be worth making your career secondary to a spouse’s.

  18. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Great point, GayProf. I know a lot of people who have moved for their spouses’ careers, and most of them (the non-academic spouses) have been able to find appropriate work in their fields. My friends who are academic couples were able to find jobs together, but only after years of living apart, and of going on the job market together year after year after year. I certainly understand that that lifestyle isn’t for everyone–but, choosing under- or unemployment is a risky economic strategy.

    As the old advice goes, “you’ll always have your education!” Even the happiest of relationships isn’t immune to the disability or sudden death of a partner. Memento mori, friends, especially if you have or plan to have children. (Not you GP, I know!)

  19. thefrogprincess on 07 Apr 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    “Even the happiest of relationships isn’t immune to the disability or sudden death of a partner.” That’s truth you speak, Historiann, and it’s been my standard line for years whenever friends of mine extol the virtues of putting their career on hold to stay at home; mind you, these are conversations among women who are neither married nor have children. I simply will not willing to do without two salaries coming in and, like you, I’m wondering why, for the most part, it’s always the woman who’s underemployed.

  20. Janice on 07 Apr 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    We’ve happily been able to convert some adjunct positions over to tenure-track as replacements were needed but it still is a real crapshoot in the job market; worse than ever, it seems. I’ve seen people with pretty much the full list of characteristic traits get passed over time and again because their specialization just wasn’t a fit or what have you.

    Regarding the issue of how people limit their search, I never understood geographic limitations people imposed on their search (I mean, I could get that people were doing that for reasons that were important to them but it was a choice I couldn’t ever see myself making because the only other option I could foresee was going back to managing a fabric store!).

    Gender’s actually worked in an interesting way, here — all four of the tenure/t-t women in my department were hired with fiance or husband in tow and not to the man’s advantage in any way shape or form! But, in most cases I’ve seen, it’s those who write the ads and form the hiring committees whose limits have the greatest impact.

  21. Another Damned Medievalist on 07 Apr 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    As someone who made the jump, I have to say that I applied for everything in my field that I was willing to take, and for which I thought I was qualified. No Ivies, and I think very few research-intensive schools, although I may apply for positions with more emphasis on and opportunity for that once I have at least a book and another under contract. And being willing to move most places (although I’m very happy I didn’t end up in some of the places I applied, because I probably would have wanted to move eventually) was a good thing. Well, not for my marriage. But for my career, yeah.

    I think it’s very good advice to work at the level of the job you want. And then some. And to be very flexible. My attitude was that I wanted a decent job where I thought I could be happy, rather than a job to write my way out of. What I’ve found is that I work for people who are well aware that the things that make me good at my job are the things that may end up making me a good candidate somewhere down the line for a different job.

    I think the people who have the hardest time jumping from the adjunct track are those who not only are geographically limited, but who have pretty much stopped innovating and producing, and hope that longevity and loyalty will give them the next job (after all, they’ve paid their dues!) at their present place of adjunct employment.

  22. Historiann on 07 Apr 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    ADM–good for you for making the jump! I think you’re absolutely right (sadly, IMHO, for the most part) that longevity and loyalty won’t be rewarded. Your flexibility will be a real asset at this next stage in your career–not having a spouse or children to worry about means that you’re free to take residential fellowships and to apply to jobs wherever you like! (I don’t know how many residential fellowships there are in your field, esp. as an early medievalist–probably not as many as there are in my field!)

    Janice, I’m glad you’ve been able to make the conversion for some of your adjuncts, and that your women colleagues are being supported by their husbands/partners. And, you’re right: you can be a terrific candidate with a great CV and lots of promise, and still get passed over year after year. However, I think this story from P.D. Lesko illustrates one of my deeply held beliefs, which is that the people who get jobs are in virtually every case really, really good. (I think it would be difficult for a department to hire someone who was truly unqualified and/or a complete disaster once hired. With so many qualified candidates competing for too few jobs, I think it would really take a lot of work to hire a complete nincompoop.)

  23. Susan on 07 Apr 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    In my job search, over a period of several years, I gradually came to know where I would be competitive and where I wouldn’t. I stopped applying for some jobs, because I realized that I wouldn’t make sense in those institutions.

    And I totally agree that the people who get jobs are really good. But — and this is really important — this does not mean that if you do not get a job, you are not really good. Those of us who have hired generally know that we have several really good candidates, and the one that gets the job does so only occasionally because she walks on water while the others only part the Red Sea. Usually it’s because of side issues that make one person a better fit — whether minor fields, other experience, etc. Assuming that most people have a time limit on how long they put their life “on hold” — adjuncting or moving annually as VAPs — it could be the luck of the draw during the years you are on the market.

  24. Rad Readr on 08 Apr 2009 at 12:02 am #

    In response to: “I’m single and I’m a woman of color and I don’t want to be alone my entire life so that rules out pretty much every school in a small town or in parts of the country where I’m not sure I’ll be comfortable as a woman of color.”

    Anecdote that proves nothing: Some years ago one of my friends, a woman of color, sabotaged her career because of what seemed to me fear of getting tenure in a small college town in the Midwest. You’ve heard the song, “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey.” Although the dept was very patient and kept her on faculty for years (a testament to her brilliance), my friend never finished her dissertation. During her final semester of employment, a guy rode into town on a motorcycle to visit a friend, who happened to be this woman’s neighbor. My friend went for a ride on the motorcycle and soon the Midwest started looking really good. Dear reader, she married him. And last I heard they were still living in the state she so dreaded. But she was off the tenure track and teaching part time as an adjunct at a community college. Again, this proves nothing, but true romance is still possible. And the guy really did ride a motorcycle.

  25. Wednesday round-up: flashing red at angry bulls edition : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 08 Apr 2009 at 6:11 am #

    [...] well, well:  If all I have to do to drive up my hits is use the word “adjunct” in a headline, why didn’t you tell me sooner?  Man, that worked better than calling a certain prominent [...]

  26. Historiann on 08 Apr 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Rad, I’m sorry to hear that your friend didn’t pull it together professinally, but that’s a great story about the man on the motorcycle. Good for her–my guess is that the lack of professinal productivity was due to a great deal of ambivalence about the career itself, not just anxiety about her location and personal life. If she’s in a happier place, then it’s all for the best.

    Susan–so true. Luck still has too much to do with jobs.

  27. roses supposes on 08 Apr 2009 at 6:27 am #

    My husband is six years older than I am. He used to work for his family business before he followed me to grad school. Unfortunately, we came to this midwest state right when it went into an economic tailspin. So he’s had three jobs in six years as an engineer. I’m going on the job market this year and really thought his last job would hold out till I found a position and he could look in the new city. But he lost it in March. So now what do we do? There are no jobs in our area for engineers, so he’s had to look outside of the state. So we move for his job now, then I go on the job market and we move again? And I subject a man who loves stability to yet another job search? ugh…no option seems good at the moment. I’m starting to fantasize about being a freelance writer, even though my goal has always been an academic job. (my father-in-law has become enamored of on-line schools and is encouraging me to make a profession out of on-line teaching).

    I have to say, too, that I’m really tired of the commuting lifestyle. The job he found was an hour away from my school. So he drove for two years, then I’ve been driving for three years (by my choice, I like this community better). But I feel so detached from my university. Both of us have this ideal of living within walking distance of my next university…but someone’s going to have to compromise to end the commuting.

  28. Tom on 08 Apr 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    I am a male following my female partner to a TT job. I think you are right that it remains a rarity and that it is not generational. Half the people I tell are horrified that I’m doing this, the other half think I’m doing something “admirable” (I’m not sure why…she got the job with health insurance…it was a no-brainer!). Only one or two people think it is unremarkable.

    In contrast, last year I almost took a (terrible) job; most everyone just assumed she would follow, though the school offered her nothing.

  29. Ellie on 09 Apr 2009 at 7:25 am #

    I’ve seen an interesting and distressing pattern among dual-academic friends (not a huge ‘N,’ admittedly, but this has happened to just about every couple in a small group of recent—last 5-7 years—PhDs). Before going on the market, the couple have a big talk and decide that they will be equal-opportunity in deciding where to go. The husbands are very open-minded, embrace their feminism and agree that the family will move to the location of the best job, whichever of the partners lands it. What doesn’t come out until the offers are on the table is that the husbands have been assuming all along that *they* would be the ones with the winning option. When it’s the wife that gets the better offer, the husbands have a really hard time dealing with it. There are fights and serious discontent on the husband’s part, unless they renegotiate the original agreement and take his offer.

    I can certainly sympathize with the need to consider family harmony in making this kind of decision, but I have been very struck by the unspoken (perhaps even unconscious) assumption by these considerate, progressive, pro-feminist men that they won’t actually be called upon to act on their progressive, pro-feminist sentiments. It simply doesn’t ever seriously occur to them that their wives might actually get the better offer until it happens, and then they can’t handle it.

  30. Historiann on 09 Apr 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Wow, Ellie–what a bunch of jerks! This is why I’m pessimistic about anything changing, and why the argument that “this is generational!” doesn’t fly with me.

    I think a lot of men are decent guys (like Tom above) who are supportive of their wives’ careers, but there are an awful lot who want to have their feminist cake and eat it too (that is, pay lipservice to the values but not have to put pay to them.)

    I’m glad to hear that some of your women friends are getting good offers, though.

  31. Anon on 10 Apr 2009 at 1:05 am #

    Hello historiann-

    I have been reading this blog for a few months and always find it informative. I do not want to hijack anything or violate your rules, but I do have a question for you and your readers.

    So, I am a grad student in history whose wife has a phd in another field and has accepted a one-year position for next year. We have a small child. We have always planned on moving to wherever she got a job because I started after her, and will be moving this summer. We have also always been prepared to live separately after I finished. We hope to stay together, but we know that that is a luxury in this life rather than a given.

    Now, this somewhat depends on the location–for instance, the availability of quality schooling is a deal-breaker–but, we have assumed from the beginning that our kids would live with me once they were done nursing. There are two reasons for this: 1) I am more suited, temperamentally speaking and being able to go without sleep when necessary, to the realities of living with school-age children, and 2) we assume that my career would take less of a hit. That is, I will get credit for having the kids instead of being seen as a ‘mommy.’ Do you think that is a reasonable assumption? Neither my wife or I like that this seems to be the way things are, but that is the impression that we get from conversations with faculty and general attitudes in our departments.

    For example, when my wife became pregnant, the faculty in my department were nothing but supportive. The DGS told me to bring my child to any meetings and has never been critical of our decision to have a child while in grad school. However, with women in my department who have become pregnant, he has expressed many more reservations. He even recommended one woman not come to grad school (after they had accepted her) because she had small children at home. The thing that is most onerous about this scenario is that I do more of the day-to-day childcare of my son because my department requires far less teaching than my wife’s. So, here I do not get any guilt directed my way, but still get to be the primary parent. Male privilege, I guess. I should also say that there are women professors in the department who are dismissive of grad students reproducing.

    best,

    anon

  32. Historiann on 10 Apr 2009 at 7:44 am #

    Anon, what you report sounds pretty typical to me. (Typical in that it’s harder for women to do what you’re doing, and typical that it’s not just men but also some women who make it harder on other women. No one is innocent of sex bias!)

    I think you should work out your family and professional lives however you and your wife want to, according to your needs and the needs of your child/ren. My motto is that there are all kinds of different people in the world and all kinds of families–what works for one family won’t work for all, not by a long shot. Good luck!

    (You might want to check out the Mama Ph.D. blog at Inside Higher Ed. It’s a group blog in which one of the women is the long-distance commuter away from her children, who live at home with their father.) You’ll note of course that there is no such blog as “Papa Ph.D.”–which is of course part of the problem we’re talking about.

  33. P.D. Lesko on 25 Apr 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi,

    Glad you found my posting of interest. I found the replies to it on your site very illuminating. Keep up the good work.

    Best wishes,

    P.D. Lesko

  34. Negotiating the Paradox: Adjuncts and Writing » Blog Archive » Opening the Tenure Discussion = Opening a Wound? on 09 Jul 2009 at 8:44 am #

    [...] now, I want to close by pointing readers to a few online conversations about who get tenure (found here, here, and here), and then to some tools for those seeking [...]