GOAL 8 THE BATTLE FOR JOBS
One of the goals of feminist sociologists has been, since 1970, to increase the career chances of women in the discipline at all levels from doctoral studentships to full professorships. Some of the campaigning to get women, or feminists, into jobs has been done privately inside each university. Man and women have been encouraging women to apply for posts, have been shortlisting them, insisting on equal opportunities training for interviewers, and have been making appointments. The results of this work show in the statistics, but are not discussed in public. As this campaign moved ahead over the past 30 years, several features of the occupation of university lecturer and university professor were scrutinised. As a by-product of the feminist campaigns, much more is known about the job, which turns out to be experienced very differently by men and women. In the early years of feminist sociology, women faculty were rare in elite American institutions, especially in tenured jobs, and scarce in British ones too. As women have gained a higher percentage of the posts, the ways the role are performed may be changing the discipline itself. To understand the nature of the academic labour market in sociology, it is helpful to start with the analyses of the whole occupation, which are more numerous and thoughtful than extant studies of sociology alone. Men and women perform the role differently or occupy different roles in the same occupation. There are three aspects of the job – teaching, administration, and research – but each of these has several facets.
‘Teaching’, for example, can include a wide range of activities from seeing a single frightened first year who cannot write an essay, or supervising a PhD project, to lecturing 700 students in a vast hall. Administration can cover being a Dean, representing a faculty of 300 staff and 8,000 students, or dealing with the pastoral care of a new student who does not know how to deal with the mice in his bedsitter. Research can mean running a research project with a multimillion pound budget employing 20 people, or spending 20 years all alone in the archives of an Austrian family and ultimately writing a book only 200 people will read in the next 20 years. The world of the full professor in science, who attracts big grants and is on many committees is quite different from that of the new lecturer in art history who will never hold research funds or lecture to more than 40 people.
The occupation of university teacher is thus a deeply segmented one (Bucher and Stelling, 1977) and the evidence we have is that men and women occupy rather different segments of it, and experience it in different ways. The American studies have found women carrying bigger teaching loads than their male colleagues, and loads made up of less prestigious teaching. In the USA women are more likely to be teaching
introductory and service courses while men supervise PhD students. The research carried out by Williams et al. (1974) found that in the UK women did not carry bigger loads than men, but did do the less prestigious work. In both the USA and the UK, women in universities are frequently found to be doing more hours of teaching, especially at the lowest levels (that is, introductory and service courses rather than PhD work), more pastoral care, less administration and committee work, and less research and publication. This last area is the one where the differences between males and females in university work are most significant, because the size and prestige of research grants and the list of publications, are the two most visible, and easily measured, criteria for judging job performance. Teaching and administration are invisible, and despite lip service being paid to their importance, promotion and recognition are actually based on publications and research to a great extent because they can be quantified, compared and assessed most easily.
The first, and most significant feature of research and publication is that large numbers of people in the occupation do little of either. Although it is widely believed that in higher education one must ‘publish or perish’, in fact substantial numbers of men and women publish very little and do not perish (Cole and Cole, 1973: 92-3). Most people teaching in higher education are silent: men as well as women. The relative lack of publications and citations of their papers which characterises most workers in higher education is thrown into relief by a comparison with Nobel Laureates (Zuckerman, 1977). Cole and Cole looked at the published output up to 1970 of 499 matched men and women in chemistry, biology and psychology who had gained PhDs in 1957-8. They found that the average ‘lifetime’ output of this group was nine papers over the 12 years, and that the typical male’s papers were cited 11 times a year, while the typical woman’s were cited four times. The men in this sample were more productive than the women, whether married or single. Reskin (1978) also found that American women publish less than matched samples of men in the same disciplines and that what women do publish is cited less. In Britain Williams et al. (1974: 399) found that women published less than men in all disciplines, but that married women were more productive than single ones. In the two years before the research was done (i. e. 1967-9), more than half the single women had published nothing, while only one quarter of the married had been silent. Similarly one in six of the married women had produced six or more publications, while only one in 12 of the single ones were that productive. The impact of successive Research Assessment Exercises in the UK since 1985 may have changed this pattern and the period 1974-2002 is also one in which more women have entered the occupation. Brooks (1997) reports a survey of
108 women academics in the UK, a significant proportion of whom voiced their perception that the occupation was experienced differently by men. Becher and Trowler (2001) provide a critique of the small number of women in Becher’s (1989) original sample (22 out of 221), and summarise the research on women academics published since 1989.
In Britain, therefore it would not be possible to ‘explain’ lower publication rates by heavier teaching loads. There is, however, a feature of publication in the social sciences which could tie in with fewer PhD students and lower publication rates, and that is co-authorship. The prevalence of single authored, jointly authored, or multiply authored publications varies from one discipline to another. Multiple authorship is commoner, indeed normal, in engineering and the sciences, and rarest in the arts. However, in any discipline, men are more likely to have some joint publications than women, and this partly ‘explains’ why men publish ‘more’ than women. This issue is not just a matter of the total length of an academic’s CV: the presence or absence of joint publications can be interpreted by those who consider scholars for jobs, grants, promotions and distinctions. In C. P. Snow’s novel about crystallography, The Search, two successful scientists are described advising an unsuccessful one how to build his career so that he will become eligible for promotion. The failure is told that he must ‘Publish a great deal, some in collaboration, some by yourself. If it’s all by yourself, the jealous men will say you’re impossible to work with; and if it’s all in collaboration, they’ll say you’re no good on your own’ (1934: 324).
Men are much more likely to publish jointly than women are in all disciplines, perhaps because women have fewer higher degree students, and so have fewer potential collaborators. Underlying those issues lies a third – whether women in general, and feminists in particular, feel at ease in their jobs and in higher education. The research on chilly climates, sacred groves and so on would suggest many do not. Caplan (1993), Statham et al. (1991), Brooks (1997), Aisenberg and Harrington (1988), Morley and Walsh (1995), Morley (1999), Becher and Trowler (2001). Clark et al. (1996) report some chilling examples of harassment in higher education. Noticeably Henkel (2000) does not index gender or women. Networks of women, and/or feminists, can provide some shelter in chilly climates, opportunities for increased publication, and increase citations to women’s work. Women’s caucuses and learned societies can increase publication opportunities. However, it is not clear that joint publications by two women have the same status as joint publications with mixed authorship. My career advice to women is to publish with and without men.
Turning specifically to sociology, these general features of a deeply segmented occupation seem to have applied at the beginning of the
feminist movement and to have persisted since. Chubin (1974) looked at a sample of men and women with PhDs in Sociology from American universities. She found that there were many silent women, and that the vast majority of those who were ever going to publish had done so for the first time within five years of their doctorate. Among those who had published she found that women were much less likely to be co-authors than men: that is women were more likely to have only solely authored publications. When women did co-author, they were rarely listed first. Women’s publications were cited less than men’s. Mackie examined the articles published in 14 sociology journals in 1967 and 1973 and found that: ‘In 1967 and in 1973, women sociologists were more likely than men to publish alone’ (1976: 286). In the period he studied, the proportion of articles that were jointly authored was rising steadily.
The feminist sociologists wanted more women employed in sociology, wanted the good ones promoted, and wanted some equalisation of the loads inside the occupation. By this I mean that many feminists valued the pastoral care and introductory teaching, they felt that many male colleagues disdained it, but wanted a re-balancing of the value system of higher education so the lower status work became more highly valued, and all tasks were more equally shared.