Goodbye, academia

Thursday, 9 July 2015 17:43
[personal profile] eye_of_a_cat
I don't work for the university any more. I won't be going back. Partly because they are bastards, but not only that.

(Okay they are not all bastards. Just the institution itself, on a kind of meta-level. Long story. But. Awful.)

So it came down to a point where the funding for my current post was running out, and the best option offered to me for staying was: can you please write a new bid, with all that entails, and then talk Dr X into putting his name on it? In return for which the best-case scenario is that Dr X would get promoted, and I'd do 90% of the work and get another three years of repeatedly banging my head off walls before facing the exact same employment situation again. Or maybe I'd get pregnant again and they'd try to get rid of me sooner!

Sorry. Still bitter.

Anyway, that really did not sound too tempting to me. And working elsewhere... well, there weren't many jobs, and there were even fewer jobs I'd be a good fit for, and I got as far as interviewing on campus for one of them (which I'd have loved oh so much but, alas, was not to be). And there was this advert everyone was telling me to apply for which would have been a great fit in lots of ways, but then turned out to be: the deal is you come and work for us for 5 years, and at the end of that we might keep you on, but you'll have to be bringing in a lot of research income and covering your salary entirely while doing all the teaching we load on junior staff, and we aren't sure whether your field will still be in fashion then so we aren't going to commit to anything. So, another five years before, potentially, facing the exact same employment situation again.

There are many many things I will miss about academia. I worked so hard for so long, because I truly loved it: the research, the teaching, the colleagues, the students, the hours, even the culture (sometimes). I didn't want to be one of those female academics who had a baby and then left. And now I am, I suppose, and in large part it's because working 70-hour weeks is not something I want to do any more. I want a job where I can be ambitious and make a difference in normal office hours.

Plus there are so many ways I got so ground down by that job, enough that it's still difficult to go into because... just... ugh it was awful. (Did I ever mention the time someone else got a raise for work I was doing? THAT WAS FUN.)

ANYWAY. The happy news is that I now work (as of September, they're not paying me yet) somewhere totally different. And oh, it feels so, so good. Like a huge crushing weight has been lifted off me. Like I can breathe again.

2015-07-10 01:23 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] drenilop.livejournal.com
I was thinking of you just this morning, that I hadn't seen you post for quite some time (and that I still hadn't sent you your baby blanket, :-( ). I'm sorry you had such a bad experience... Academia is the least professional profession that there is. I wish you the best in your new position!! Who knows, I or my colleagues might want to talk to you about decentralized policymaking inside the EU, or some nonsense like that! :-)

2015-07-10 10:01 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
Hah, I am working frantically on finishing their baby quilt, so it seems mine isn't the only thing of that nature running late!

Hugs to you, [livejournal.com profile] eye_of_a_cat. Academia sounds like such a brutal environment. I'd have gone for it too if I hadn't fallen ill, and I now know that I'd have loved the research but absolutely hated the workplace. I hope you have a fabulous time in your new job, enjoy working hours that aren't trying to kill you (R has been so much happier since moving to a job with fewer hours), and I am excited about being in the same city!

How's the flat-hunting going? Do landlords mind children like they so often do with pets? A friend of mine flat-hunting down south for herself and her girlfriend was getting turned away from a few by the ominous line "we'd prefer to let to a family," but I don't know if that means they actually like families or just don't like same-sex couples.

2015-07-10 12:48 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] drenilop.livejournal.com
Wow, [livejournal.com profile] elettaria..... In the US such discrimination ("we prefer to rent to families") is illegal. Don't y'all have a "(Fair) Housing Act" or "(Housing) Discrimination Act" or something like that? If you're qualified to let the space, the landlord has to let it to you regardless of race, gender, marital status (including children or lack thereof), national origin, etc. Knowing how Westminster likes to title its laws, it's probably the (Unfair) Discrimination Act (as if there's fair discrimination) or something even odder sounding. :-)

2015-07-10 18:11 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
Oh, it's illegal here, it'll be covered under the Equality Act, but what can you do about it? They were looking for a flat, not a legal struggle about something they'd be pushed to prove, plausible deniability and all that. And if a landlord or letting agency is homophobic, you don't want to be renting from them. I've had this many a time with disability discrimination. With accommodation, several people actually put the phone down when I said I was disabled. And when R and I were looking for a restaurant for our first anniversary last year, there were two or three places that did the same as soon as he said "and my partner's a wheelchair user". We wanted a nice meal out, not a court case.

This is why I really admire Nathan and Robert Gale for pushing that disability discrimination case, and they openly said that they were doing it, even though it was a bloody nightmare, for all the people who aren't up to fighting back. I experience disability discrimination on a regular basis, occasionally at a frightening level, and on the rare occasions when I try to do something about it, it is absolutely exhausting, distressing, and never gets anywhere. I'm talking about something as basic as trying to get large print out of the NHS (or my bank, or anywhere, really).
Edited 2015-07-10 18:19 (UTC)

2015-07-10 16:52 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] vettecat.livejournal.com
Good to hear from you... I had been wondering how you were doing, but figured you were probably just really busy. Sorry you wound up having to leave academia but I do understand it. My husband has been worn down by many years on the adjunct circuit and is trying to figure out what else one can do with a humanities doctorate. Leaving academia entirely may be the way to go but it's a big step to take. I'm glad you found something that seems like it will allow you to have a more normal life. Really hope it's a good fit!

2015-07-12 20:36 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] green-knight.livejournal.com
Depending on his other skill sets and interests, publishing might be an option. I work as a copyeditor, mainly for academic presses and it's ever so wonderful to be able to use my skills in my field without university politics. (It's also a lot of hassle being a freelancer and all that)

2015-07-17 16:50 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] vettecat.livejournal.com
Thanks for the suggestion! It is something he's thought about, but unfortunately cultural study isn't in as much demand as, say, math. Still worth keeping in mind, though.

2015-07-10 18:43 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] spiffikins.livejournal.com
This sounds like a really positive change - I'm glad you found something that gets you out of that situation!

2015-07-12 20:30 (UTC)
- Posted by [identity profile] green-knight.livejournal.com
Long time no see! I'm sorry you had such a lousy time i academia - I kept hoping that I'd return one day and haven't - but hurray! for a new challenge!

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