Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Monks and Debutantes

Crooked Timber has two more good posts on the academic life. Chris Bertram writes about the impact that extended time in graduate school has on the life of professors. He notes that most professors don't get their first job until their 30s, which is much later than it used to be. This, of course, has a huge impact on women who want to have kids around that time. It also means that professors will less time to put aside a decent pension for when they retire.

Also, the increased transience of professors and relatively poor compensation means that it is increasingly hard to be an academic and a parent. My father the professor who raised three kids in a suburban community is becoming rarer and rarer. There are only two types of academics that can endure these hardships: singles who are wedded to their books and married academics who are supported by high earning spouses.

Singles can travel around the country without worrying about a spouse finding a position in rural Alabama. They don't have the pressure of buying diapers and formula. They take their meager pay and live on ramen noodles and beer.

Married academics who have high earning spouses may not have the flexibility to relocate, but they can afford to take low pay positions without pensions. Their spouses support the academic habit, much like other wealthy women are given boutiques to keep occupied. They like having a smart trophy wife/husband.

The academic lifestyle is going to squeeze out all other individuals, leaving only monks and debutantes.

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