Dr. Crazy hits it again and dares to talk about money. (You’ll recall that she has bravely led us on the topic before.) Specifically, she writes about her money–how much she makes, and how it stacks up against her peers: “Now, when I did my negotiating, lo, those many years ago, I sort of felt like I didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I only ended up getting a bump of a grand to what they initially offered, and I felt like I was a bit silly even having bothered to ask. However, I now see how that bump has grown so man, any bump you can negotiate to your base is totally worth it.” In the comments, we started talking about salary negotiation, and it called to mind my first experience with negotiations when I was offered my first tenure track job. So, here’s the true story from the Historiann archives, with the actual numbers, although they embarrass me deeply.
When I was offered my first tenure-track job in 1997, I was offered $32,000 a year plus moving expenses. I thanked the chair of that department, and said I’d get back to him. At that point I had taught at two different institutions for a year and a half total, so when I called him back the next day I asked for more money, pointing out truthfully that the offer he had tendered was $1,000 less than I had earned the previous year as a full-time lecturer when I was still ABD. I had completed my Ph.D., and thought that my degree plus the experience merited consideration. (Plus, who accepts an opening offer in what we all know is a negotiation?) I can’t remember any longer what exactly the chair said, but his tone of voice and his mood indicated that he was irritated that I was asking for more money. (Seriously–what did he expect?) I was shocked that he seemed to be treating me in such a hostile manner–remember, I hadn’t accepted the job yet, so a rational and responsible department chair would be trying to talk me into taking the offer, not talking to me in a contemptuous fashion. I remember distinctly saying, “Well, L., this is how the game is played, isn’t it?” to suggest that his agitation at my counter-request was out of place. He then became obviously angry, and shouted into the phone, “This isn’t a game to me!”
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