Over Ten Million Served: Gendered Service in Lanugage and Literature Workplaces is a new book edited by Michelle A. Massé and Katie J. Hogan that raises two old questions: 1) Why don’t academic workplaces value service and honor it in career advancement to the degree it should be, and 2) How is this undervaluing of service implicated in the gendering of service as feminized (and therefore volunteer/underpaid/unrewarded) carework? A brief interview with the editors is at Inside Higher Ed today.
These conversations about service are like conversations about the weather, in that everyone talks about it all of the time but no one does anything about it. In our current state of crisis on university faculties–with the adjunctification of the profession in the past twenty years plus our soon-to-be double-dip recession–are we likely to finally do anything about it now? Or are we even less likely, because of the state of overall economic crisis? My sense is that few of us feel motivated to go that “extra mile” in the face of rescissions, cutbacks, salary freezes, and even furloughs.
For those of you interested in thinking about our state of crisis in American universities more generally should see the reviews by Tenured Radical and Jesse Lemisch at New Politics of Higher Education: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids – And What We Can Do About It by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus. Apparently, liberal arts professors who make $100,000 and spend only 6 hours a week in the classroom, take sabbaticals, and conduct research (the nerve!!!) are as much of the problem as running farm clubs for the NBA and the NFL and CEO-sized salaries for university presidents and other administrators. (Does anyone ever say that football coaches only work three hours on Saturdays in the fall, because that’s when their teams play? I never hear that for some reason, yet here we have the familiar accusation that if professors aren’t leading a class every single minute of the day, then they’re not working.)
Let’s talk about that liberal arts professor who makes $100,000 a year. Here I am reminded of that scene from Chasing Amy in which Banky gives his speech about the $100 bill at a four-way intersection. To wit:
Here we have a liberal arts professor who makes $100,00 for six hours of work a week, we have a football coach who is the highest paid state employee, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny: who gets to the $100 bill first? The answer, of course, is the football coach, although he clearly doesn’t need the money, because (as Banky says) “the other three are figments of your f^&ing imagination!”
I wish I could make $100,000 a year! As it is, we have former M.A. students just one or two years after graduation who are making nearly as much as starting Assistant Professors in my department. (And the ones who work for the federal government have much better and cheaper benefits than we do! That’s Big Government for you, friends.) Speaking as someone who’s at about -$40,000 from $100,000 after thirteen years in the profession and two years of no raises, I don’t think I’m getting up to six figures any time soon.
So, how many of you are going to volunteer for some extra committee work this year? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?