Staging Women's Lives in Academia: Gendered Life Stages in Language and Literature Workplaces
Landing a tenure-track job offer is generally regarded as a real achievement. That outcome is the hope of many doctoral students in the humanities who complete up to ten years of study. But beginning that highly anticipated position---and navigating the complexities of institutional requirements, campus cultures, departmental dynamics, student needs, and publishing protocols---while simultaneously advising students, developing new courses, maintaining a level of visibility on campus, and staying current in one's field of expertise---involves a steep learning curve that new Ph.D.'s, and women in particular, are unevenly prepared to travel. For any individual scholar, the stakes of negotiating the tenure ladder are sufficiently high. When other bodies enter into the equation, though ---partners or children, scholars or professionals of separate backgrounds--the radar screen becomes even more crowded, options overlap (or do not), and choices collide. This is news to no one; the statistics are sobering for female academics in the United States and beyond regarding the impact of parenting on the probability of achieving tenure and promotion. That marriage itself has disproportionately negative effects on the work lives of women professors, however, is maddening (representative studies will be subsequently discussed). Sharing some of the "bad" (and good) news about academia is the goal of this essay, which focuses on the early tenure-track years (my recent professional life stage).
Past, Mariana F., "My Double Life in Academia, or Extreme Parenting on the Tenure Track" (2017). Dickinson College Faculty Publications. Paper 588.