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Girly-men teachers?

9 April, 2009

Girly-men Teachers?

Apropos of a conversation at Historiann’s, this idea just struck me. I don’t have time to go into it in great detail, and it might not even be original. But here it is:

The discussion of Judith Bennett’s book last month focused in part on the idea of patriarchal equalibrium, and Bennett herself focuses a great deal on the consistant wage disparity between men and women. At SLAC, as at other universities all over the country (and possibly the world) — at least where there is no union scale — men tend to be paid more than women faculty of the same rank. I want to take that further, though. Those of us in Liberal Arts programs know that the folks in hard sciences are typically paid more than their peers in the humanities and social sciences. And hard sciences have traditionally been dominated by men.

Let’s take that a step further, though. At SLAC, faculty in the (mostly male-dominated) professional schools make more than those of us in the Liberal Arts. Moreover, their teaching loads (and often service loads) are lighter, and publication requirements somewhat higher (although many of us in my school meet those higher requirements for scholarship even with our heavier teaching loads). We are ‘teaching faculty’ and they are ‘research and professional’ faculty. My question is this — does the overt masculinization (is that a word?) of the ‘research and professional’ faculty that exists in terms of actual staffing lead to a de facto feminization of all faculty in the ‘teaching’ side? That is (partially), do even male faculty in Arts and Sciences get less respect and have they less clout because they teach and are willing to take lower salaries (because what man would do that? it’s only natural that women do, but …)?

Just a half-baked thought.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 April, 2009 9:50 pm

    It’s not half-baked at all–in fact, it’s (one of) the conclusion(s) of a major study on the wage gap that was published last year. I wrote about it at the time, and only after I had written my post today went back to take a look at it: in feminized academic fields pay a price, but not as steep as the price paid by their women colleagues. Because we MUST preserve the wage gap, somehow!

  2. 10 April, 2009 4:52 am

    That is (partially), do even male faculty in Arts and Sciences get less respect and have they less clout because they teach and are willing to take lower salaries?In a word, yes. And while I won’t hesitate to defer to Historiann’s note that it still affects women in the humanities more, I can attest to the fact that work in the humanities seems to inflect a perception of masculinity in places far from the classroom: the gym, the soccer field, the doctor’s office.

  3. 10 April, 2009 2:09 pm

    Historiann — I'll look at that, thanks!Horace — do you think it's as pronounced at a campus with high research standards as it is on a campus where A&S are on a more teaching-intensive load than the other schools?

  4. 10 April, 2009 2:38 pm

    I couldn’t say, since I’ve almost always been on research intensive campuses, but I’d imagine that yes, this is likely very much the case, especially since the people I get this sense from are often generally dismissive of teaching as something worth a great deal of time and effort…

  5. 10 April, 2009 2:55 pm

    Horace’s comment about “the gym, the soccer field, the doctor’s office” is reflective of what a tyrranically narrow definition of masculinity we have now in the U.S. (As if all men are dunderheaded sports nuts who just want to laze around on a couch and eat chips and watch TV.) Of course we know this isn’t the case–but there seems to be less outrage among men that they’re portrayed this way in the media than there is feminist outrage at the way most women are portrayed (giggling, constantly dieting shopaholics or alternatively, nagging drudges who do all of the housework and child care, for example.)Yeah, I would imagine that Continental philosophers and experts in seventeenth-century French drama stand out in a crowd of “typical” American men! (P.S. to Horace–my comment about it affecting women more was all about the wallet, not the more diffuse cultural implications of being a teacher in the humanities.)

  6. 10 April, 2009 6:32 pm

    Even within the humanities & social sciences this operates. Economists are paid way more than historians who are paid more than lit people. I noticed that I'm paid less than junior people in cognitive science and economics. Is it nuts? Yes. The theory is that the skills of economists are transferable, while those of historians etc. are useless. And we have seen how useful the ability to construct elaborate mathematical models is. . .

  7. 10 April, 2009 7:31 pm

    Susan raises an excellent point, esp. when we talk about “marketability,” since I would argue that the market itself works on a sexist logic of specialization and scarcity, which fixes on motherhood and childcare as its distinguishing locus: anyone can have a kid and change diapers, but not just anyone can work up a theory of capital gains (or whatever). How many economists would go mad watching five toddlers is a question dismissed as ridiculous. The same goes for teaching the humanities, which–since they traffic in human experience–everyone thinks they have an “in” on…But more to the point, Ann, I think your comment about female scholars being at a disadvantage should NOT be limited to critiques of pay, because as much as I might find those distinctions made in the Doctor’s office or on the soccer field (and I am no dunderheaded manly-man: my facebook pic has me doing jazz-hands and wwearing a technicolor dream coat. Just ask Tom and Rosemary how macho I am), still pales in comparison to how Willow (my spouse, who can, incidentally, kick my tuchus on the gym floor) is dismissed and undermined in similar spaces.

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