Adjuncts, spousal hires, and other academic employment woes

Maybe because the semester is over, but I’ve seen a flurry of posts and articles about various ills in the academic market.  Megan McArdle has an article questioning why such left-leaning folks as academics would support a labor market that looks more like one of those evil corporations they’re always railing against.  That article was, in itself, a response to an article in IHE by a tenured faculty member who fights for the rights of adjuncts, which got a lot of play in the academic blogosphere.  And then Laura at 11D responded to both, and the conversation there still carries on.  I think Laura is spot on with a lot of her assessments of the situation.  I do think departments aren’t very honest with their students about job prospects.  And I think there are adjuncts who keep putting themselves in the system in some vain hope that they’ll land a full-time position–and there are too many of those people and they’re cheap and so schools keep hiring them instead of full-timers.

Finally, there was an article in the Chronicle about spousal hires.  The comment section is especially vile.  Profgrrrrl responds as does Kate.  My husband’s school was too small to do any spousal hiring, but some spousal career services would have been useful.  What I got told was, “Oh, there are plenty of places where you can adjunct.” Oh, yeah, real helpful that.  I would have even appreciated them suggesting I shift careers and helped me make that shift.  But no.  And we were lucky because we’re in a major metropolitan area.  At least there are job prospects here.  Many a school, even large ones, are located in the boonies.  They are often the largest employers in the area.  And if you’re favorite candidate can’t move there unless his or her spouse/partner doesn’t have a job, then that would be kind of a no-brainer for me.  But, still, like Profgrrrrl says, it’s amazing the vitriol people can spill over these things.  As, I used to say when I was a kid: “Who died and made you king of the world?”

3 Replies to “Adjuncts, spousal hires, and other academic employment woes”

  1. The low-humming anger over how people’s family configurations affect a department’s environment, workload, etc, has been an ongoing theme this year in the academic blogs I visit. I was struck by what Profgrrl wrote, that there’s a level of dislike and distaste for other people (no matter who those “others” are) that really bothers me.

    One of the reasons I will probably give up on my dissertation is my sense that no one would hire me, not because my work is bad, but because I’d be seen as taking advantage of unfair benefits, whether that be my previous SAHM status or any spousal influence that might come into play now.

    Most of the wiggle room that allowed spousal considerations to affect hiring in our metro area has disappeared in the recession. So that part of it is sort-of a moot point.

  2. Liz, as I recall, your field will likely be employable outside of academe. That gives you lots more options. Those of us in the humanities had a tougher go of it. 🙂 It’s also better to go in knowing what the outcomes will likely be. For example, my grad school placed nearly all its students, but they largely went to community colleges and satellites of larger state schools with 4/4 teaching loads. I knew that going in and likely could have gotten a job at that type of school if I’d wanted to. It’s the people who go in thinking they’re gonna land their first job at an ivy league or R1 school who are in more trouble.

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