Brother, can you spare $100K? (Oops–$220K?)

Inside Higher Ed reports today on a major study on gender and the pay gap between faculty women and men by Paul D. Umbach, an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Iowa.  It concludes that “even using the most sophisticated possible approach to take into consideration non-sexist reasons for pay differentials–a pay gap remains, based on gender. And while this can’t be definitively tied to sexism, there aren’t a lot of likely alternative explanations.”  That’s an average gap of $3,200 per year, every year–or (Historiann’s arithmetic here, multiplying $3,200 by 30 years, which is dodgy because the gap would almost certainly increase over time) at least a $96,000 career deficit for women compared to their male colleagues.  (UPDATE:  See Susan’s and Nathan’s corrections in the comments below.  The news is even worse than I had been able to comprehend with my tiny deficient non-economist brain!  It looks like at least one man–if Nathan is in fact a man–is earning his unjustly inflated salary!) 

litebrite-tits.jpgPull up a chair and a box of Kleenex, girls and boys, because there’s something for everyone here (but as usual, the bad news is mostly for us girls!)

  1. Controlling for all factors, there is a 4% gap between the salaries of female and male faculty.  (The pay gap goes up to 14% when controlling only discipline and institution type.)
  2. Men as well as women working in the fields that feature more women faculty have lower salaries than those working in male-dominated fields, but even in those fields men are earning 4% more than their female colleagues.
  3. Quoting from the story directly, “Those disciplines [mentioned in #2 above] also tend to be teaching-oriented disciplines. Similarly women were disproportionately employed at teaching-oriented institutions, which also pay less. So professors who are women, teach in a field that cares about teaching and work at a college that really cares about teaching face a ‘triple hit’ on salary, [Umbach] said, ‘and it adds up to real money.'”

Read the whole thing–it’s brief, and the author, Scott Jaschik, has done a remarkably good job analyzing a lot of complex information and squeezing it into a readable article.  Professor Umbach raises some interesting questions for how we assign merit pay, and politely asks us to consider how those “fair rubrics” might perpetuate the pay gap.  Is it really “fair” to effectively penalize Art Historians or Philosophy professors because they aren’t eligible to compete for $500,000 grants from the National Science Foundation?  Since Corporate University (TM) is all about the money, honey, why haven’t colleges and universities figured out that it’s a lot cheaper to have/be an outstanding Liberal Arts college?  Historians and people in English and French departments don’t need half a million dollar labs to do our research–just a little time off, a library card, and perhaps some extra dough for research trips out of town.  That $500,000 for one lab could buy 10 humanities scholars a year of leave to go write their books and burnish their national and international reputations.)

One caveat:  the first comments on the article suggest that this pay gap arises because women allegedly don’t bargain for higher salaries when they’re hired.  False!  Trust me–Historiann has tried, but there’s that icky gender thing that happens then, too.  Whereas men are respected for being assertive and having a high opinion of themselves, women who take the same approach get less, because, well, who the hell do those pushy and obnoxious broads they think they are, anyway?  Mary Ward’s research demonstrates that in some cases, it does hurt to ask for more.  This is all of a piece with Historiann’s theory that across time and space women are expected to volunteer their labor, and only (some) men can expect to get paid for their work.

Somerby: incomparable! Ehrenreich: now comparable to Dowd.

Very foolishly, I posted today before reading Bob Somerby’s The Daily Howler.  Go read now.  Money quote:  “Eight years ago, [Barbara] Ehrenreich was getting good solid laughs with her comments about how wooden Gore was. Today, Gore holds the Nobel Peace Prize, and the dead of Iraq stare up from the ground. And Ehrenreich has moved on-to talk about Clinton’s vile haircuts.”

What a disappointment that Ehrenreich, a feminist who has written some very intelligent and important books, has typed up a screed so full of cliches about Hillary Clinton that I would have deemed it worthy only of Maureen Dowd.  Despite the troubling prayer meetings and hairdos (both of which were no doubt carefully designed to conceal her sprouting devil horns), Clinton appears to be up 1215 points in Pennsylvania, and a whopping 28 points in West Virginia.  It must be witchcraft, or something.  Poor deluded fools–I guess they don’t spend enough time reading the prestigious, peer-reviewed internets, otherwise they would know that “that stupid bitch” doesn’t have a chance!  She should quit now, before Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Oregon, and Montana hold their primaries.

Democracy is so divisive!  We should just all unite now behind St. John McCain, because the Republicans are threatening to vote for him instead of the Democratic nominee.

Ben Stein? Anyone?. . . Anyone?

matthew-broderick.jpgben-stein.jpgThis article at Inside Higher Ed does a good job of summarizing the new “Intelligent” Design movie, Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed.  Is it just me, but does anyone really think that chronic D-list Republican celeb Ben Stein is really a “powerful new weapon” in the war to admit pseudo-science into public school classrooms?  He had an amusing cameo in a movie that came out when Historiann was in High School, twenty-two years ago, which was itself amusingly parodied by “Ferris Bueller” himself in Election (1999).  But, who really cares what Ben Stein thinks about anything?  He’s not that smart, and not that popular with High School kids, or anyone else, these days.

But then if what you’re selling is “Intelligent” Design, then maybe Ben Stein is “powerful,” in the way that ID is “intelligent.” 

UPDATE:  It’s a regular John Hughes revival today:  tonight, All Things Considered did a story about the character “Long Duk Dong” from Hughes’ 1984 movie, Sixteen Candles, and the controversy over the racist stereotype of Asian men he (at the instigation of writer/director Hughes) revived and embodied.   (Don’t miss the link to Adrian Tomine’s 2001 graphic story, “The Donger and Me”–it illustrates the burden that Long Duk Dong was for Asian American boys in the 1980s.)  And here’s something from the department of “you’re getting old, dude”:  the actor who played Long Duk Dong, Gedde Watanabe, is fifty-two!  Check it out–after all, how many times have you had the opportunity to hear an NPR reporter use the expression “butt-cut” on the air?

Curiouser and curiouser: Malice in Tenureland

“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.  Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.  “I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.  “There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.  “Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice angrily.  “It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,” said the March Hare.

alice-in-tenureland.jpgThis is a follow-up to my super-cheerful post on Wednesday, “Tenure:  What is it good for?  (Absolutely nothing?)”  Hear now the tale of Sheri Klouda, a faculty member who was told she wouldn’t be tenured at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because the good men of SBTS “believe women are biblically forbidden from teaching men.”  (Yes–you read that correctly.  I know it doesn’t make any sense, but bear with me.)  Her contract wasn’t renewed in 2006, so she took them to court.  She’s in the news this week because a judge dismissed her lawsuit, claiming that their “religious beliefs” make it all nice’n’legal (on First Amendment grounds, natch.)  This ruling doesn’t make any sense at all.  Their “religious beliefs” prevent women from teaching men at all, so–why was she hired?  Other women remain on the faculty–apparently they have no rights as employees which SBTS is bound to respect.  How disturbing that U.S. District Judge John McBryde doesn’t find it troubling that these deeply held “religious beliefs” are checked at the door until they’re needed to block a woman’s promotion.  Disturbing, but not surprising–after all, this is characteristic of that crazy, mixed-up, through-the-looking-glass place called Tenureland, where nothing is as it seems!

Three fab dresses and one bad haircut


Because I got so worked up over that post on Wednesday (quel bummer!), I had to take a break to play with my Barbies again.  Here’s another Barbie photo shoot, this one featuring three different sleeve lengths on the same coctail dress model.  (Susan:  do you like any of these, or do you still prefer the black-and-silver number?)  Barbie 1958 is in the red short sleeves, Barbie 1962 is in the blue 3/4 length sleeves, and Barbie ca. 1977 is in the seafoam sleeveless dress.  Barbie ca. 1977 is having a bad hair day every day for the rest of her life.  In my efforts to save the hair, it seems that I have destroyed the hair.  Barbie hair is really difficult to cut in any flattering way, because of the weird design of the rooting.  It’s just not designed for short hair or layering, I’m afraid!  Here’s a horrifying closeup of the damage:


New York Times article on Prof blogs, Facebook/MySpace pages

nutty-professor.jpgRead and discuss.

Does anyone else have a problem with the fact that they illustrate this story with a still of John Houseman from The Paper Chase?  (How many of you XX types have been told, especially in your younger years, that “you don’t look like a Professor!” by someone who meant it as a compliment?)

Please note that the only people interviewed for this article are male professors, and they rhapsodize about the opportunity to “humanize” themselves in their students’ eyes.  Somehow, this reminds me of the discussion in January over at New Kid on the Hallway about clothing, and the fact that many male professors are clueless that the liberty they have to dress as they like in the classroom is a gendered privilege.  I don’t really think my students need to see me as more “human.”  That just gives them more information about me outside of my professional life, and my professional life is the only thing my students need to know about.

As it happens, I’m reading Leslie Bennetts’ The Feminine Mistake (which I recommend highly) and she’s got all kind of depressing facts and studies that show how women’s work is devalued, but in particular, the ways in which women are paid even less than other women and viewed as less competent if they’re mothers.  As you all know, Historiann has a sex, but as far as most of you know, she is otherwise like the Publick Universal Friend, Jemima Wilkinson–a wife to none, and a mother to all humankind.  Thanks, but no Facebook “friends” for me–I’d rather be a Professor Universal Friend.

Tenure: what is it good for? (Absolutely nothing?)

Well, it’s Spring Break, and the letters will soon rain down from Provost Offices everywhere on assistant professors in their sixth year of employment.  The lucky duckies who get the news that they’re tenured and promoted. . . are permitted to do the same job next year, in perpetuity, and to change their rank to “Associate Professor” on their CVs as of July 1.  The unlucky duckies get heaping doses of shame and humiliation to shovel out of their mental Augean Stables for the rest of their lives.

Inspired by this post at Slaves of Academe, about the apparently outrageous decision to deny Andrea Smith tenure at the University of Michigan, Tenured Radical brilliantly sums up a lot of the rage and frustration that many of us feel about the system we’ve created for ourselves.  The Andrea Smith case is especially vexing for us Women’s Studies types, because she is a Native American scholar and activist with a dual appointment in two departments whose tenure case was approved by American Culture but denied by Women’s Studies.  (With friends like that. . . who needs History departments?)  The Radical One makes the point that unions might serve us better in protecting our right to free speech and the pursuit of scholarship, and several commenters agree.  (By the way, don’t miss the Radical One’s This American Lifeworthy story about a short but disturbing conversation with a random dog-walker in New York City.  You’ll never look at dog butt-sniffing the same way again!)  Marc Bousquet has made the point at How the University Works that tenure really isn’t that great of a prize–people in unions get better job protection and benefits than tenured people, without being put through the humiliations that the tenure process dishes out with impunity.  As he puts it, “today’s tenured faculty-and their unions-still have a lot to learn from the people who carry their trash, organize their files, teach their children, and put out their fires.”

One of the things about tenure is that most of us are in denial about its costs, even (or especially?) those of us who are casualties of destructive work environments and/or bruising tenure battles.  It seems like every woman faculty member I know has been brutalized by the system at some point–if not as a junior faculty member, at the point of tenure and promotion to Associate; if not at that point, then they get it when they go up for their next promotion to Professor.  Both institutions that I’ve been affiliated with as a regular faculty member have suddenly and arbitrarily invented higher tenure standards when a generation of women Assistant Professors came up for tenure and promotion.  Example:  In my former department, there were men promoted to Associate Professor before they were tenured (and then tenured easily as a matter of course), but just a few years later when a handful of women came up for tenure, they were offered the pink-collar designation of tenured Assistant Professor.  Nice, huh?

And yet, we don’t talk about this.  Although feminist intellectuals who have sophisticated understandings about how power works, we still feel shame about our own experiences.  We still see them–to one degree or another–as personal failures, rather than the fault of the system and of the people who interpret and enforce the system’s rules.  We don’t want to discourage our graduate students or new junior colleages.  After all, who among them wants to hear that “the evil claw of patriarchy will get you too, my pretty!”  It’s easier for all of us to assume that the roughed-up or ultimately untenured must have done something to deserve it, because we don’t want to believe that it could happen to us.  We’re good girls, we did everything right, we went to conferences and had publications on our CVs when we were graduate students.  We’ve won national fellowships.  We’re protected.  We’re bulletproof. 

Maybe we should all get T-shirts, like the “I had an abortion” T-shirts, that read, “I was denied tenure,” or “I had to go up for tenure twice,” or “I was told that I ‘intimidate’ senior faculty members,” or “I sued my department,” or, “I was told to shut up and take it.”  That’s frequently the advice that junior faculty get, especially from senior faculty who took it, and “won” the glorious prize of tenure. 

Tenure is also on Historiann’s mind because there is apparently a new Hollywood movie in the works called Tenure, starring Luke Wilson, with David Koechner as his goofball Anthropologist sidekick.  It will be filmed at Bryn Mawr College (so cleverly renamed in the movie “Grey College.”)  Here comes the icky part:  the plot is that the character played by Wilson comes up for tenure “and fac[es] off against a female rival who recently arrived” to teach at the same institution.  Other media reports suggest that Wilson’s character “competes for tenure with an impressive new female colleague.”  Ugh.  Just perfect:  the tenure drama reduced to a boys-versus-the-girl paranoid masculine fantasy, made all the more disgusting by the fact that Bryn Mawr is a women’s college that hasn’t been terribly progressive in hiring women faculty members in the past twenty years.  Maybe Tenure will be a clever comedy, and maybe it will surprise me–but so far, the plot sounds backlashy, or at best a weak “cute meet” setup.  For those of us who have been sounding the alarms about the re-masculinization of academia, this movie will be one to watch (like a trainwreck?)  Then again, maybe it will just be the faculty version of Old School, which also featured Wilson:  stupid, but kinda funny.

I’ve been wondering if the generation of us women faculty who were hired between 1992-2002 will witness the further re-masculinization of our departments over the course of our careers.  Like the generations of women faculty who dominated women’s colleges from the 1920s through the 1950s, we could find ourselves patronized and edged out by younger men who will then run our institutions for the next forty years (at least.)  There was a story I heard while still a Bryn Mawr undergraduate about one of the last of the grandes dames from that generation of scholars.  The faculty vote to tenure one of the first young men hired in the 1950s wasn’t going his way; the grande dame acknowledged that he wasn’t much of a scholar, but urged her colleagues to tenure him nevertheless so that they wouldn’t look like they were prejudiced against men.  That was a pretty funny punchline back in the 1980s when I was an undergrad–twenty years later as a faculty member, the best I can offer a rueful grimace.