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Women work more, advance less: the true tales of women in academia according to the MLA

April 27, 2009

Okay, I will admit to surfing Inside Higher Ed for things to be snarky about, but I just can’t help it when everything written by the men there epitomizes the whole structure of academic writing: we will ignore bias, ignore chauvinism and push for men’s values.  The most that Inside Higher Ed does for women is put a link up to the Mama Ph.D blog, but she already has tenure…   In any case, I found something worthy of comment on my first look, as is my usual result.  Scott Jaschik is normally mealy-mouthed when it comes to making any statements about bias and critical analysis of a study, and this was no different, except I had wished for one line, somewhere stating that those at Inside Higher Ed had any inclination to address the gender discrimination occurring at higher ed places of work, considering that is in their name.  As usual, I was disappointed.  Inside Higher Ed is beginning to look remarkably like Esquire editors…

According to Jaschik, the MLA study shows women work harder, longer, and put more effort into work and personal lives (women do double the childcare hours that men do, women 31.6 hours, men 14.2), like their jobs less and advance 2 years behind their male counterparts.  What gives?  Well, the MLA, which has roundly shown itself to be somewhat irrelevant in most current issues (no jobs in the field, only offering printed text published on paper and not digital, only just now looking at gender disparities, no jobs in the field, advancement by men, editing by men, etc.) states that they are “opening discussion” about this.  Whoopee, talk about a social revolution MLA; thank God we have you around.  MLA says “microdifferences” are the reason women aren’t advancing.

Check out the chart below

Discipline and Sector Men Women
–Doctoral 7.5 9.8
–Master’s 5.3 6.1
–Baccalaureate 6.0 6.8
Foreign languages
–Doctoral 6.7 10.2
–Master’s 5.0 9.8
–Baccalaureate 7.0 8.0

Women advance many years behind men, but check out the hours of work that women do each week:

Average Hours Per Week on Key Activities, by Gender

Activity Men Women
Course preparation 10.5 10.8
In-class instruction 6.6 7.1
Grading or commenting on student work 6.0 7.5
Research and writing 9.7 7.7

Add to this amount the average of 32 extra childcare hours per week, and it’s obvious that the women are working longer than the men, on all fronts.

Here are the numbers crunched for you:

Women:  work hours– 33.1,  childcare–32 hours, average work week:  65.1 hours

Men:  work hours–32.8, childcare–14 hours, average work week: 46.8

The MLA study says that childcare doesn’t necessarily factor in, because all women advance slowly.

I say the  jobs probably aren’t worth the effort, and many women agree with me:  men are more satisfied at work than women.

Percentage of Male and Female Professors ‘Very Satisfied’ With 9 Measures of Job Satisfaction

Work Condition Men Women
Authority over content of courses 92.3% 85.9%
Authority over what courses you teach 72.1% 61.1%
Time available for class preparation 41.6% 24.0%
Authority over non-teaching duties 42.6% 32.1%
Time available for work as adviser 38.8% 28.1%
Time required for work as adviser 38.5% 26.5%
Quality of undergraduate students 24.5% 31.4%
Quality of graduate students 34.1% 38.7%
Job overall 48.4% 41.8%

So what does this all mean? The report suggests that an accumulation of work hours does not equal the same levels of promotion.  Women don’t seem satisfied.  Women work more.  Women work longer with their children each week.  Women aren’t as happy in their jobs.

Wonder why?  No advancement, more work, less recognition, and according to national statistics, less pay.  Why would women be satisfied?  Men are, on average, 20% more satisfied with the components of work,  or maybe they are lying, because their overal job satisfaction is in the 40’s, like the women.  All in all though, it appears as though the MLA has done a lackluster job of evaluating women’s promotion–hello, one more way in which universities are like Wal-Mart.  Remember those lawsuits?  There was validity to the women’s claims there too, but those women sued.  What’s a prof to do?  I’ve got an idea, let’s just boycott, because it appears the MLA gets the Asshole Business Award this week.


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