privilege, choices, constraints

This post is a response primarily to the young academics and other young professionals or graduate students who wrote that my story inspired them to think about their priorities or to have hope that they, too, could achieve success despite the stresses of the work-home conflict. Many wrote that it reminded them of their own priorities, and that was my main point. But some people seemed to be trying to “do it all” and viewing me as a model of success. I am fearful that you will think that I was some kind of superwoman. Because I was not superwoman and you will draw the wrong lesson if you think I was. My last post was written from the perspective of privilege and this one will be, too. This is not because I do not know I have privilege. To the contrary. I still remember the young woman in my Lamaze class who was going back to work full time four weeks after her child’s birth. Continue reading “privilege, choices, constraints”

hourly wage?

It occurred to me recently that while my wage may be quite high (even as an assistant professor) my hourly wage may not be. So I’ve decided to do a little calculation. Two weeks into next semester I’m going to start counting my hours (I figure two weeks in because then the semester will actually “start”). I’ll do that for a month. And then see how much I make an hour. Anyone want to join me? Continue reading “hourly wage?”


I am working on an NSF proposal that will be my first grant proposal sent out from Northwestern with me as a listed (co-) Principal Investigator. Never mind what it’s about, for now. Part of the proposal right now is for an RA whose responsibilities will have a strong administrative component. I just got the numbers back from our grants person, and an 12-month half-time RA at Northwestern is more than $34,000 in direct costs–not counting fringe benefits–because it includes tuition as well as the stipend. You can hire a pretty competent staff person for the half-time equivalent of a $68,000 annual salary, especially given that there are still a lot of assistant professor positions in sociology that have a base starting salary lower than that. If I get the grant, I’m not sure what I will do. I’m not going to spend it on a graduate student who simply views working on the project as a job, that’s for sure, as that would make no economic sense. An advantage of my current employer is that my ability to recruit similarly-interested students to come here is not strongly tied to whether I can myself provide funding for them, as then I would probably feel compelled to use the money to invest in a student even if I didn’t feel the expenditure was in the best interest of the particular project.

another detractor!

We need a name for Our Detractors. My provisional nominee is “Scatterlings.” Anyway, we’ve got another skittish sociology Scatterling calling us out here. Skittish because this post first went up, then was taken down, and then was put back without links. Remember: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”? Not as catchy, but: “If you want to be pissy about other people online, you need to grow a freaking spine.” Especially if you are lobbing this stuff from behind a pseudonym to begin with. Come on!

Anyway, my favorite part of the new Scatterling’s post is this: Continue reading “another detractor!”

the green, green grass of your world

I’ve been holding back on commenting on the powerful post by “olderwoman.” I’ve been less tempted to comment on it directly, and more on some of the commentary on the post, on the extension of the conversation over on Crooked Timber, and the extensions of the conversation on scatterplot. Finally, I just got to the point where I decided to just write my own post about one of the things that bugs me about that whole conversation. That thing is this tendency we seem to have toward a perceptual bias in which, when things are tough for us, that we always seem to think we have it worse than other people–the grass is always greener in someone else’s life than ours.

I’m not one who thinks much of trying to put different people’s suffering on a scale and trying to determine who has it worse, mainly because the vast majority of the time we really have little idea what is going on in other people’s lives and how something that might seem insignificant to us could be a major hassle, or even debilitating, in theirs. Have you ever been embarrassed after doing something like mocking or criticizing someone for poor performance only to learn that one of their Continue reading “the green, green grass of your world”