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Indicators of Esteem: GEA Conference 2013

Gender and the Prestige Economy

Kelly Coate

on 3 June 2013

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Transcript of Indicators of Esteem: GEA Conference 2013

Gender and Prestige in Academic Work The university is above all a hierarchy. At the top is a small cluster of highly paid and prestigious persons, chiefly men, whose careers entail the services of a very large base of ill-paid or unpaid persons, chiefly women: wives, research assistants, secretaries, teaching assistants, cleaning women, waitresses in the faculty club, lower-echelon administrators, and women students who are used in various ways to gratify the ego (Rich, 1980: 136) worker bees Academic Work Prestige Economy Monetary Economy "I became very disillusioned with the attitude to women in the workplace. Lots of undeclared deals done which favour male staff in relation to salary levels, sabbatical leave and promotion. Little or no appreciation of the spade work done, mainly by women . . . male staff generally escape lots of what is regarded by them as drudge work" (female survey respondent) "In [this university] the ridiculous eligibility criteria mean that one has to wait a defined period prior to being eligible to apply. THIS MEANS THAT EVEN IF ONE WINS A NOBEL PRIZE, but is not at the top of the lecturer above the bar scale you CANNOT APPLY. [. . . .] In any other institution I would already hold full professorship status." (male survey respondent) "I must go on the record and state explicitly that
as a man I have benefited enormously from being included in informal networks which are dominated by other men [. . .] too much happens in this university based on the 11 o'clock coffee break, the gathering of senior male colleagues who use bad language, gossip, engage in character assassination - homosocial bonding, in other words." (male survey respondent) "When I look at the most 'successful' academics that I know here, I realise that one thing they all have in common is an ability to 'talk the talk' and carry themselves with a certain knowing self-assuredness in their own greatness. This aura, and this patter, impresses others, and it really doesn't matter to what extent they can 'walk the walk'." (male survey respondent) queen bees (Blackmore and Kandiko 2011) Kelly Coate
King's College London Survey of Academic Staff on Academic Career Advancement
269 respondents
51.7% female
Approx 75% of female respondents at Lecturer grades; 55% of men at Senior grades
71% of male respondents have career goal of professorship, compared to 54% of female respondents (Doherty and Cooke 2011) 'There is a prevailing attitude (although I accept not a deliberate one) that women are the worker bees and men the shining academic stars. The work that women do in this university needs to be recognised'. (female survey respondent) 'I find the attitude of women and men to academic life quite different. Men tend to be quite ostentatious if not aggressive in their pursuit of their goals and the institution tends to take notice of them. Guys also tend to network behind the scenes to promote themselves. A woman can work very hard . . . but still not get any encouraging response or acknowledgement from male colleagues . . . the work culture . . . is highly orientated towards male success.' (female survey respondent) Academic Drudgery Gendered Expectations Homosociability The Alpha Male Final Reflections:
As argued by Slaughter (1993) 'the prestige argument (for disparities in pay) is code for preserving existing hierarchies of status and privilege within higher education'.
In other words, prestige accrues in order to preserve the prestige economy.
In order to disrupt this cycle we need to better understand how the prestige economy works (the exchange rates of its currency); and we need the gendered association with prestige to be challenged. Domains of motivation for academics Academic Grades by Gender
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