It is not easy to clip and press what I am talking about inside the square boundaries of an “administrative problem.” The context has to do with the very clockwork of a career system that seems to eliminate women not so much through malevolent disobedience to good rules as through making up rules to suit half the population in the first place.15 For all the turmoil of the 1960s, those rules had not changed a bit by the early 1970s. The year 1962 was an interesting one to come to Berkeley, and 1972 a depressing one. The free speech movement in 1964 and the black power and women’s liberation movements following it seem framed now by the fifties and Eisenhower on one side and the seventies, Nixon, and Ford on the other. The questions t hat lay flat under the book in the lecture hall in 1963 stood up to declare themselves in that stubborn public square that refused to be incorporated by the city-state around it. I t was like slicing the Queen Mary in half: from boiler room to top deck, the chains of command within, the ties to industry and the military without, in what had announced itself as an oth­erworldly search for Truth—ail were exposed for a moment in history. And then recovered, the boat made whole again and set afloat. It was what did not change that was most impressive. Now the free speech movement, black power, and women’s liberation appeared as dissertation topics: “FSM, a Study of Information Dissemination," “Black Power as Status Mobility,” “The Changing Image of Career Women,” amid yet newer ones such as “In the Service of Light; a Sociological Essay on the Knowledge of Guru Maharaj Ji and the Experience of His Devotees.” Each movement left a the­ater of its own, and frosted dinner-table conversations that at the end of the evening divided again by gender.

What did not change was the career system, brilliantly described by Clark Kerr in The Uses of the University.,f> But there are some things about competi­tion uncritically implied in that book that I must focus on here. The first is the understanding, taken for granted, that work is shaped into a “career” and that a “career” comprises a series of positions and accomplishments, each tighdy and competitively measured against other careers, so that even minor differences in achievement count. Universities and departments compete to get the “big names,” and individuals compete to become the people who are competed for There is competition between Berkeley and Harvard, between Stony Brook and New York University, between sociology and history, between this assistant professor and that one, the competition trickling down from level to level. The people at each level carefully inspect the relatively minor differences among a surprisingly narrow band of poten­tial rivals for scarce but coveted rewards. This is perhaps more apparent in the almost-famous than the famous universities, and in the hard sciences, whose scientists have more to sell (and sell out), than in the soft. It is more apparent at professional conventions than in the classroom, more in grad­uate student talk than in undergraduate, more among males than females. The career itself is based on a series of contests, which in turn are based not so much on doing good work as on getting credit for doing good work.

A colleague explained this to me in a letter. {І had written him asking why employers are not more enthusiastic about part-time work for men and women.) Speaking about scientific and artistic creativity, he noted:

Being the first to solve some problems helps you be the first to solve a prob­lem which depends on the solution of the first [intellectual problem], pro­vided that you get to work on the second problem before everybody learns how you solved the first. I think clienteles work pretty much the same way, that if you start being known as a good doctor in a certain social circle, or a good divorce lawyer, then if two of the person’s friends recommend you as a good professional you are much more likely to get his business than if only one does. Where clienteles come in off the street or in response to adver­tisements, as in real estate, then it doesn’t matter so much whether you work full time or not,

“Being the first” to solve the problem is not, under the career system, the same as getting the problem solved; “getting his business” away from some­one else is not the same as meeting the client’s needs. In the university, this means “being the first” in research and, to a much lesser extent, “getting the business” in teaching. To borrow from movement language, one can man­age in this way to get a reputation in the “star system.” Wanting to become a “star” or knowing you have to want to become one or becoming even a minor one is what women learn in man-made careers.

A reputation is measured against time—that is, against the year one is bom. A number of studies have shown that, in modem times, intellectual achievements tend to come surprisingly early in life. In Harvey Lehman’s massive study of eminent men in science, the arts, letters, politics, the mili­tary, and the judiciary, the average age of peak performance is early: for chemists and physicists the early thirties, in music and sculpture the late thirties, even in philosophy the late thirties and early forties. The link between age and achievement for many specialties housed in the university resembles that of athletes more than that of popes or judges. Interestingly,

achievement came later in life for men before 1775—before the massive bureaucratization of work into the career system.17 A reputation is an imag­inary promise to the world that if one is productive young in life, one will be so later also. And the university, having litde else to go on, rewards the promise of the young or fairly young.

Age discrimination is not some separate extra unfairness thoughtlessly tacked on to universities; it follows inevitably from the bottommost assump­tions about university careers. If jobs are scarce and promising reputations important, who wants a fifty-year-old mother of three with a dissertation almost completed? Since age is the measure of achievement, competition often takes the form of working long hours18 and working harder than the next person. This definition of work does not refer to teaching, committee work, office hours, phone conversations with students, or editing students’ work, but refers more narrowly to one’s own work. Time becomes a scarce resource that one hoards greedily, and time becomes the thing one talks about when one is wasting it. If “doing one’s work” is a labor of love, love itself comes to have an economic and honorific base.

This conception of time becomes in turn an indelible part of the career – self.19 Male-styled careers introduce women to a new form of time con­sciousness: it is not age measured against beauty, as in our “first” training, but age measured against achievement. That measure of age, as I have noted, is related to what else a person does, for example, in the family.

The career-self experiences time as linear and the career itself as a mea­sured line, other parts of the self following along. Time is objectified in the academic vita, which grows longer with each article and book, and not with each vegetable garden, camping trip, political meeting, or child. One’s mul­tifold potential is treated much like a capital investment in an initially mar­ginal enterprise. What is won for the garden is lost to the vita. For the career-self, casual comparisons to colleagues working on the same problem are magnified into contests: He got his article published first. His good news is my bad news. These comparisons become mental giants, while the rest of the world and self are experientially dwarfed.

If work, conceptualized as a career, becomes a measured line, the line often appears to be a rising one. Very often the rising career line is also, despite a residual cynicism about power, associated with a pleasant belief in the progress of the world. Even those who have refused to fit this profile know very well that they are measured against it by others who rise to the top and, from this top-of-the-career worldview, set the prevailing standards.