Departmental Politics · Nature of Academia · Tenure

On Tenure

MT: Today we’re talking about getting tenure as political science bitches.  So, Candy Ann, how does one achieve tenure at your R1ish institution?

CAR: Publish. Publish, publish, and publish more. Publish only in good journals, nothing interdisciplinary, nothing fluffy.

MT: What’s a good journal?

CAR: The department sits down and assigns scores to journals.  They use impact scores and sort of “their own judgment,” which sometimes results in certain areas being more highly ranked than others, because the people who are deciding which journals “count” tend to pick the journals THEY publish in. What about you? How important is publication, and how important is where you publish?

MT: At our institution, a LAC, any peer reviewed publication counts for tenure. Obviously, publishing in the main journals counts more, but any publication still counts.  And I like having the ability to publish many things in many places. I can prepare my submission to JOP, then work on a paper with the sociologists, then write a popular press article.

CAR: Yea, I don’t think anyone would take that too seriously for tenure here. Only “good journals” count.

MT: Do you think being bitchy is important to your success at work?

CAR: I don’t know. I think I have enough bitch in me to make sure no one walks all over me, but I also appreciate the value of playing a non-bitchy role to get what I want.

MT: I agree. At my institution, outright bitches don’t get anywhere. You have to hide the bitch. So I do: outwardly I’m super nice and friendly. In my head, I’m reciting Machiavelli.

CAR: Nice.

MT: Sometimes I have to be bitchy at home, to get proper research time.  Which I think Erica Chenoweth et al. talked about in the “How to Get Tenure If You’re a Woman” article.

CAR: Yes. What do we think about that article? I want to talk about their #4:  the idea that you should set boundaries, like “don’t talk about your kids.” The authors say, set your own boundaries and talk about your life, but sell your research, too.

MT: I think those boundaries are more important at your institution than mine.  At mine, if we didn’t talk about our kids, we’d be weird.  I specifically brought up my child during my interview, to seem older and fit in better. Plenty of people say that’s a deal killer.

CAR: Yes, it’s probably different here. When I was pregnant with my second child, I mentioned out loud often that this would be my last. I wanted to be sure no one was wondering if I’d get pregnant again and my productivity would drop.

MT: When I was on maternity leave, my department was so nice. They made sure I got food, they bought us a gift card for diapers. When I came back to work, they told me to take it easy. It’s like anything I did seemed impressive while having a baby at home. Would your place do that?

CAR: Absolutely not. I was receiving emails about work while nursing my 2 week old.  And no one was impressed. I don’t think the guy who sent that Emergency Email even remembered I’d had a baby; I just needed to address his issue right then.

MT: So here’s where my being at a LAC could be better:  maybe some gender bias is less pronounced. What I give up in salary or prestige, I get back in quality of life.

CAR: That’s probably true. Would you move to an R1ish institution if you were offered a job?

MT: No.

CAR: I wouldn’t move to a LAC either.

MT: I purposefully sought out this kind of institution because I knew I wanted a life.

CAR: I wanted to kick ass and take names at work. Good luck to my children.


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