Part B – Findings and conclusion Monitoring the issue of supply and demand for these positions, by collating data in relation to the numbers of women and men who apply, are interviewed, and appointed to specific fixed-term positions, for example, tutors and senior tutors. 2. Over-representation of academic women in fixed-term positions (usually lower-paid positions and often ‘non-career’ positions) It is likely that there is a complex set of factors contributing to the over-representation of academic women in fixed-term, lower paid ‘non-career’ positions. Choice by women who are the primary caregivers is widely considered to be a factor here (on the assumption that such work fits with their family responsibilities) but the extent of this is uncertain, and logically it makes more sense that part-time work is the main attraction for women with family responsibilities rather than a job that is time-limited. Celia Briar’s research into non-career academics,78 demonstrated that many of the common assumptions about why women accepted non-career jobs and why they stayed in them were inaccurate. (Such assumptions included that they knowingly accepted a job without career prospects, that such jobs suited them because of care-giving responsibilities, that they did not have career aspirations, that they were not qualified for career jobs in academia, and that they were happy with their work, pay and prospects.) In relation to fixed-term agreement positions, there seem to be a similar number of explanations about why these may suit women, and it would be useful to explore what is actually the case. Often these issues are very inter-related, as demonstrated in the following comment. I am a non-permanent (contracted) part-time academic….I do believe that mothers of young children, like me, are often committed to staying part-time and are less flexible as to where they work, and that these factors keep them in non-permanent positions. Furthermore, it is no secret that in most universities the contracted Lecturers and Tutors do a bulk of the undergraduate teaching so as to free up time for permanent staff to conduct research. Many of those who stay in these impermanent teaching positions are mothers, for the reasons of inflexibility given above. Because as a non-permanent Lecturer one has no access to research funding, it is almost impossible to publish in this situation, which in turn keeps one in a non-permanent position. Even if a permanent job is advertised, it is unlikely a woman who has taught part-time over a long period of time, with little opportunity to research and publish, would get the job... I think this is the real issue for working mothers. It is not that one is discriminated against as such, it is simply that the way the system operates keeps part-time non-permanent academics part-time and non-permanent. I am pretty certain that research will show that most of these long-term part-time contract Lecturers are women and mothers, and I know from experience that these working mothers pretty soon feel as though they will never be able to get on with their work, while burning out as teachers of big undergraduate courses. What a waste of talent and passion! Q100, Line 1266
Briar, C, (2009)‘Trapped in the ivory basement: Effort-reward imbalances amongst non-career academics’, in Briar, Celia (ed.) Hidden Health Hazards in Women’s Work, pp. 134, 135.