It used to be that feminists adhered to a “pipeline” theory of progress in gender equity in higher ed–the more women with PhDs, the more tenure-stream women, the more women in leadership.

It hasn’t turned out that way. The majority of women teaching in academe get paid in the same range as men working as bartenders and waitstaff (and often worse).

Higher ed employment has become a pyramid scheme, explains Michelle Masse in part 1 of our interview, with mostly-male sectors at the top and mostly-female sectors at the bottom. The relationship between “feminization” of the humanities and “masculinization” of administration means we’re all in the harem of the dean.

The tenurable/ nontenurable binary gets gendered in this way: so do disciplines and other forms of job description, usually in close connection with the distribution of power and material rewards. Engineering, law and business faculties—as well as administrators and coaches—are in this way “masculinized” in relation to the feminized humanities.The notion of “comparable worth” needs to be revived.

There are plenty of folks earning generous six-figure salaries on campus—by virtue of being administrators, or belonging to disciplines composed primarily of tenurable men—in connection with decisions made by primarily male trustees and administrators about the distribution of resources. Trustees and administrators then label these collective decisions regarding the interests they represent as “market-driven” after the fact.

Terry Caesar is right to suggest that “composition” still signifies “women’s work” both literally and analytically. But in the big picture, so do history, philosophy, literature, fine arts—even sociology, mathematics and economics. Even a male-dominated field or department can be feminized.

Unlike the bogus market formulas employed to justify paying men on campus far more than women, the “comparable worth” perspective allows comparison of educational investment and accomplishment across disciplines.

Insofar as the “comparable worth” of philosophers and engineers is generally equivalent, their pay should be more equal as well. Ditto for writing faculty and cultural studies/literature faculty.

Not incidentally, a “comparable worth” scheme would rapidly raise the pay of most campus faculty women. As always, more video is available at the youtube channel. Special thanks for a nice mention by the labor law community at Workplace Prof’s blog, and kind, detailed commentary from Leslie Madsen Brooks at BlogHer (“How the University Doesn’t Work–Especially for Women”) and GSC comrade Cuff at Countersignature (“We Already Live With The Corporate University”).






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