Quiet Desperation of Female Professors

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That’s the title of a piece in Inside Higher Ed that discusses a new article out on attitudes of women in academia. For some of us, it may hit a little too close to home to read the whole thing through more than one half-opened eye. For example, the section in the piece about denigrating positions once they’re held by women struck a familiar chord of dull rage that never quite goes away for me as a professor who teaches practical skills.

Professors of legal skills have documented for years the terms and conditions of employment as a means of throwing open the curtains and letting a little sunshine disinfect that situation. With about 10 years of data now, it’s irrefutable that terms and conditions of employment rise directly depending on the ratio of men to women in the department. Departments with a male director and with more male professors than female are generally paid more than departments with female directors and more female professors. And once the department has been occupied predominantly by women over time, it’s difficult to get those positions to be considered professional positions worthy of tenure-track consideration. Law school like to say that legal writing is important. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard, “You teach the most important class in the first year,” I’d have more nickels from that collection than from the teaching itself.

–Tracy McGaugh

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