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Michelle Webber Brock University, Canada. The Project Disciplining Academics: The Tenure Process in the Social Sciences (Sandra Acker, Michelle Webber.

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Presentation on theme: "Michelle Webber Brock University, Canada. The Project Disciplining Academics: The Tenure Process in the Social Sciences (Sandra Acker, Michelle Webber."— Presentation transcript:

1 Michelle Webber Brock University, Canada

2 The Project Disciplining Academics: The Tenure Process in the Social Sciences (Sandra Acker, Michelle Webber & Elizabeth Smyth) Tenure as policy, experience, and as discipline Interviews: Administrators and faculty association representatives (30, 7 Ontario universities) “Junior” faculty (38, 7 Ontario universities) High rates of tenure success hide inequitable practices and experiences along the way

3 Navigating Academia “You’re kind of just thrown in to this little, little pond and there’s big fish around this little pond and you know, you just try to, like keep swimming so you don’t get eaten by them.” “I’ve never thought about the system as being fair, always thought about it as being who you know and how you get to that place. It’s all about the strategic games you can play, which is awful to say but I think it has very little to do with scholarship.”

4 Navigating Academia “It’s a mine-field that I’m constantly trying to navigate, while still being true to my heart and true to myself.” “There’s one woman in my department who has completely fallen through the cracks when it comes to tenure. She doesn’t have any information; I mean at least I was fed things because of my friendships but if you don’t have those friendships, you’re really screwed and I was shocked hearing about her file, how little advice she’s been getting.”

5 Navigating Academia “There were some things that shocked me. For instance, the Chair at the time, I was hired with two men also, and the Chair took each of them out to lunch and bought them sweatshirts at the bookstore and didn’t take me on a similar sojourn…that experience of learning that those guys had gone on that, you know, had done that with him, definitely made me feel like ‘Okay, they’re getting groomed in a particular kind of way and I’m, ah, you know, left to my own devices’.”

6 Navigating Academia “People like [my department] have been very crucial to me in that regard saying ‘Stop publishing in Canadian journals, it’s got to be international journals’.” “I was encouraged to apply for funding by the Chair, by the Dean, and by the Office of Research Services (laughs). Everybody’s knocking on your door.”

7 Women Navigating Academia “I do quite a bit of work that’s more community-based. I do a lot of community-based research and I knew, going in…that you do what you need to do to get through…I knew that some of the activities that would be more community-focused wouldn’t really be seen that highly here…it would be nice if the process could be more [sigh] if there was more recognition of other kinds of scholarship.”

8 Navigating Academia “I haven’t published any of my work that’s specifically on race in a [discipline] journal because I know it’s gonna get rejected.” “As soon as I get tenure, I’m going to be writing in a much more radical up-front way. Before I went up for tenure I was so much more careful and was so concerned about publishing in the right places and saying the right things to get an article published but now that I’m, hopefully, not going to have that albatross around my neck, I plan on doing a lot more radical work.”

9 Navigating Academia “At the opening of term, one Dean would come to an interdisciplinary graduate program’s welcome reception and tout the benefits of interdisciplinarity. Yet when I met with him and had a publication in Women’s Studies International Forum, he’s like ‘Well, where’s the Canadian Review of Sociology?’ So I felt that he actually didn’t have a good understanding of what a profile might look like of someone who actually does interdisciplinary work.”

10 Navigating Academia “Several people were called before the committee for these hearings and a general trend was qualitative people, leftist people, so feminism. One of my colleagues was questioned on her queer work, ah, they called it narrow…and there was one committee member, in particular, where his hostility to feminism as I was presenting my stuff was certainly palpable.”

11 Navigating Academia “You know I always felt a little bit guilty when I was doing things to directly support teachers that somehow was not going to land itself on my CV.” “One colleague is someone who put a lot of work into the scholarship of pedagogy and again this was dismissed. Our department was wholeheartedly in support of her application, but this particular T&P committee ignored the department’s recommendation and valuing of the kind of work that she does.”

12 Navigating Academia “I wanna show what I’ve done but because I do community work, like working with these organizations…a lot of that stuff ended up having to come out of my file…there was this idea that this stuff is not seen as valuable which, again, is the way – what happens to people of colour right, they do community service work and they get penalized.”

13 Navigating Academia “The year that I went for tenure I withdrew from [activity] because it wouldn’t I didn’t see it as something that really was going to get recognized and as something really important…I felt that I really needed to look like I was on research and “scholarly” work. Once I got tenure I felt much more confident in embracing what I see as my role, which, frankly, is to improve the quality of [discipline] teaching in Ontario schools.”

14 Navigating Academia “The women in the department do more service. There’s a sense in the department that service is women’s work…So for those of us who do it, there’s this sense of its devaluation. It’s not only that we do more of it but it’s work that the men don’t want to do…It’s not fair.”

15 Navigating Academia “One of my other junior colleagues…he’s very research- oriented and he buys out of teaching and he’s got big projects and you know so he and I are kinda positioned differently. I do a lot of the work of the department and he does very little. He gets more research done than I do…I suspect that when people are in those [tenure] meetings they’re not spending a whole lot of time saying ‘Well, she was the graduate coordinator for the last two years’.”

16 Navigating Academia “I think one of the big problems with the whole tenure process is the timing of it. I mean when are women and men most likely to have children? Exactly at that time. So you’re measuring their work performance when they’re least able to excel and they’re also junior with relatively little experience and you’re increasing the pressure levels just extraordinarily.”

17 Navigating Academia “I don’t think I’m going to I don’t really want to because my CV’s strong and it doesn’t really matter for me now.” “I agree with you but you know what worries me, though, is that every time you tell somebody you take a paternity leave in our field, they all think that you’re taking a secret sabbatical.”

18 Navigating Academia “I’ve given up having a family. I’ve given up having a partner and that’s a lot to give up. It’s not the way I though my life was going to be. If I said I was happy, I would tell you ‘no’ because I’ve given up way too much. I love my job more than life itself. I think it’s what I’m supposed to be doing in the world but I’ve made too many sacrifices, too many sacrifices.”

19 Navigating Academia “I haven’t got a second [child], right…it’s come at a cost and so when I look back, will I resent that? I think I probably already do, you know, I’d love to have at least two kids if not more but that just hasn’t seemed possible…What’s required of you is quite substantial and it often does feel like more than is humanly possible.”

20 Women Navigating Academia “There are weak cases that are put forward by white men but somehow those cases always manage to get through and the ones that weren’t getting through correlated specifically to the department’s efforts to diversify its staffing…so we are a department…that has a very bizarre record now in terms of questions of race, class, and gender.”

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