Sunday, September 10, 2006

Should One Rant to Administrators?

I guess I will find out soon because I did rant to an administrator (via email) today and he replied that we should chat more about my Issues this week. I was really fed up about a whole lot of things, and reached my tipping point when two weekend departmental functions came up in quick succession. My husband and I went to one event yesterday, and we told the powers-that-be that we would try to find childcare for an event that is 2 weeks away, but we hadn't found anything yet. We were told we have 3 more days to figure it all out. I am not feeling too motivated to do that.

Overall, I think I balance life and work very well, but it's a rather delicate balance. The balance can handle such things as travel (in fact, my husband just left for a conference), major deadlines (proposals), assorted visitors, minor illnesses and so on. I could even handle extraneous departmental functions if I had to, but that's where my attitude problem kicks in.

Last year, in a reorganization of the leadership positions in my department, for the first time in 10+ years every single position was given to male faculty (some were elected, some were appointed). The reason given to me for why I was not as qualified as my male colleagues is that they would be better able to "balance research with other responsibilities". The colleague who told me this has a stay-at-home wife. Of all the reasons one could come up with for why I shouldn't have a position of responsibility (my strange sense of humor? my tendency to be sarcastic in a place where sarcasm is not always appreciated?), this is the last one I would have thought possible. In fact, it would not have occurred to me. You will just have to believe me that in my case, this particular reason is bizarre. But there it is.

So, I have that still seething in my brain, and then these extra events come up that are easy for the guys with Wives to attend but challenging for other people. If my colleagues think I have trouble *balancing*, even though I dealt with everything that came my way and more for the past 10 years, then why should I continue being an uncomplaining team-player? I am done being nice about dealing with extra administrative activities because (1) I dealt with them for years, and it got me nowhere, and (2) I'm a full professor, and I can complain about stuff like this. My rant today wasn't just about the immediate issue of departmental functions on weekends, it was that the current department organization and culture will impact our recruitment and retention of faculty. If we keep going as we are, at the very least we have a major morale problem among the women faculty (20% of the department!), and at worst we won't be able to recruit excellent candidates who see our regressive departmental structure and culture.

6 comments:

tom s. said...

'better able to "balance research with other responsibilities".'

It is unbelievable that this kind of thing is still going on, especially as they really mean

'better able to "do research and avoid other responsibilities"'.

Good luck to you. I hope you chose your administrator wisely.

Anonymous said...

'Last year, in a reorganization of the leadership positions in my department, for the first time in 10+ years every single position was given to male faculty (some were elected, some were appointed). The reason given to me for why I was not as qualified as my male colleagues is that they would be better able to "balance research with other responsibilities".'

Good heavens, isn't that illegal???

Ms.PhD said...

It's just plain SEXIST. I hope your university has a mechanism to deal with this kind of blatant discrimination. I also hope that guy said it in writing, so you'll have a record of it.

That said, I still think I'd want to join any department you're in, just to have a role model. I hope they let you help with recruiting, at least.

Pam said...

Wow, I'd rant as well. This stuff drives me insane - my hope is that they will listen to what you have to say, and make positive changes. But you know - going to your administration (or emailing them) to discuss legitimate concerns isn't really a rant (which has sort of an out-of-control connotation - I think the definition includes 'extravagantly' and 'violently) - and your issues are more than legitimate. I hate that we always feel like it's 'ranting' and that we have to 'rant' to even be heard. Oh - and the attitude problem is theirs, don't you think?

mapletree7 said...

What is such a slap in the face is not just the rationale, but the admission. Isn't it enough for them to think it, without saying it to someone's face and being surprised when they are offended? Disrespect runs deep.

Maxine said...

The thing I find most annoying is weekend work-- whether a conference or travel to/from a conference. It is tough enough on families if there are two working parents and a child/children, but if the parent(s) have to be at a meeting as well as working all hours god made in the week as well---- well, what's the point. I am pretty unpopular for various reasons, but my refusal to go to conferences if they cover a weekend is certainly one of them.