The Academic 'No Worries' Club
FT. Mike Garant,   University of Helsinki, Finland
(a FT is a Finish Doctoral Degree)
have read a lot of articles on the internet from the US and
talked to a lot of American academics at conferences. They tend to talk
about job woes usually centering on the difficulty of getting a permanent
job or tenure. It seems that many concentrate more on worrying than anything
else. It is depressing. This sort of behavior also carries over into the
NET and leads to complaints and, sometimes, allegations of discrimination.
Whether they are 'true' or not, I am sure that the perceptions of the job
market are quite real to those who perceive them.
For example, Anonymous (posted 6/23, 2:20 p.m., E.D.T.; Chronicle of
Higher Education Colloquy, http://chronicle.com/colloquy/99/genderbias/64.htm
put forth the comment that because of a 3 year-old child a search
committee member "asked me about my daycare arrangements and then
commented that he felt that I could not possibly commit the time or
energy required for a tenure position". I find such comments
interesting. They are anonymous so no one can really tell what
happened to who, where, when or any other details. Maybe the
committee hired the best candidate? Who knows?
As for me, I have a 3 year-old daughter and 5 year old-son and a
wife who is also an academic. From my what I hear, it would be
impossible to 'earn tenure' in an American university and spend
the necessary time with my children so I live in Finland. It isn't
perfect here by any measure, but I dwell on the positive rather
than the negative. I have a steady job here that I like and I count
Right now in December we have gray sludgy and icy weather. The snow
hasn't really fallen yet to brighten thing up. It is depressing.
Still, it isn't all bad. On the down side we have lousy weather and
high taxes. Here in Scandinavia there is also a great deal of overlap
in male and female roles related to child rearing. Because of this,
I accept that I will not write so much until my children are old enough
to not need our (my spouse and my) constant attention. I should have
a lot more experience after my kids are grown and I hope my research
papers should reflect my maturity. A lot of good research comes from
the US but a lot of it seems to reflect a publish or perish mentality.
It is sometimes obvious that an author has nothing to say but writes
something anyway because of job pressure. Probably the amount of
overtime required also takes a toll on paper quality. Still, such work
should be published if it helps people keep their jobs.
I think the system may be to blame. An education system which requires
parents to abandon their kids in order to earn tenure is inherently
wrong for both men and women. Does quality really come from overwork?
Is the situation really as bleak in the US as people seem to portray?
I certainly hope not.
Maybe what is needed is more of the optimism American culture is famous
for. So I've decided that I'm not going to worry about it any more or
let job worries infringe on my conversations or my work. I think that
better work comes from that and hope that others will do the same so we
can all work toward a more optimistic workplace on both sides of the