Monday, October 20, 2008

I think this is jacked up

This weekend I ran into a former neighbor of mine here in New City. She's an academic, but not in science. When I first arrived, she was in the process of turning in her thesis and arranging her defense. It was a bit complicated because she was doing all this from home, with two young children, while her university and advisor were in another city a couple of hours away. In fact, I'll never forget one of the first times we talked for more than a minute - she was frantic because she had just tried to mail her thesis, and it had gotten stuck in the trap door of one of a mailbox. She was frantic because, well, it was her thesis, and, apparently, tampering with a mailbox is quite a serious crime, and so she was not sure how to solve the problem. She settled on calling the post office, and going to stand guard by the mailbox until someone came to free her thesis, so that it could get on its way to its destination.

Her thesis was eventually liberated, and she graduated, but she told me about a hundred and fifty times, "If you end up having to mail your thesis - go to the post office! Wait in line, even if it takes all day!"

She then went on to a non-tenure track position at a local school. Although the environment was nice, and it was not too far from home, she wasn't all that happy with it because of the lack of permanence. So, when another school offered her a position, thought not TT at the time, had the potential to be converted into a TT position, she took it. And she was all but promised that the conversion would happen after her first year - because they just loved her!

Well, that was two years ago. She's now on year three, still no TT conversion. So, she's back on the market because two new TT positions opened up in her field at two top tier universities (apparently, that's a lot). Neither one is local, but she's tired of being dicked around, so she applied. And, of course, now the school she's at now is upset. They want her to stay, but they still have not offered her what she wants - a tenure-track position.

I was nodding along in sympathy through her telling me this, until she got to this part: some administrator called her home to discuss the situation. Upon finding her not home, this jackass proceeded to talk to her husband about the issue, asking him if there was "anything they could do to make her stay". Meanwhile their two kids were running around in the background.

Can I just say, what the fuck?!?! Can you imagine the opposite situation - administrator calls the home of a male professor, his wife answers, and the administrator begins whining to her about the fact that her husband is applying for other positions, asking her if there is anything she thinks they could do to convince him not to throw out his net for bigger fish. I think we'd all agree - that situation would be ridiculous, and yet, when the genders are reversed, and it's the woman choosing to look for ways to further her career, somehow people get all confused.

Besides. She already told them what they can do to make her want to stay - give her a shot at tenure.

I said as much to her. As I see it, this situation is not about the money, or convenience. It's about her looking to have what she worked her butt off for - a genuine career in academia. She deserves to at least get chance to try. She's not working for pocket money. And she doesn't need her man to make the decision for her.

8 comments:

EcoGeoFemme said...

While I completely agree that it was totally inappropriate for the administrator to talk to the husband, this is one of the few situations where I think the reverse isn't outlandish. I can imagine someone from EGM's work talking to me if they got me on the phone incidentally. But I certainly see where you're coming from. Also, it sounds like your friend's situation really sucks. I hope the job app tango gets her a t-t position.

BTW, I like your current template. The contrast of the old one always went all squiggly for me.

acmegirl said...

EGF - Hmm... I would definitely be weirded out if hubby's boss started trying to pit me against him if he were considering leaving his job. Wouldn't they think we'd have already discussed it? Would they not expect me to be behind him all the way if the apps were already sent out? And if he was doing it over my objections, would I really want to share that with them?

Glad you like the new color scheme.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Ugh. I'm one of those hypocrites who loves to gossip but hates being talked about. I would super mega hate it if Dr Hyde and some chairperson were plotting my fate. I'm a big kid. Let me run my own negotiations.

Fortunately, I think Dr Hyde would say that directly. But who knows? I agree, creepy story regardless of whether it's gender imbalanced.

Nicky said...

I agree with EGF -- I could totally see someone asking a wife what it would take to make her husband stay at his job. Regardless of gender, though, I imagine that any supportive spouse would give the same answer: "You'll have to discuss that with my wife/husband."

Really crappy situation for your friend, though.

EcoGeoFemme said...

I guess I wasn't thinking of it as pitting the spouses against each other, more like cajoling or something. But still, it's inappropriate no matter which spouse it is.

BikeMonkey said...

Happy Hallo-meme!

drdrA said...

It's so totally lame (and completely inappropriate) to talk to her husband about this.

And as for people being up in arms about her looking for a TT position- I say that's bullshit. This is not a popularity contest, it is not personal, it's about a person finding the best fit job for her. Period. Nothing else. If her current department can supply that then they should put her up for TT, or shut up. End of discussion.

acmegirl said...

Preach it, drdra! I totally agree.

Bikemonkey - I'm so looking forward to carving pumpkins this weekend!