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Sangaramoorthy Writes About Work / Life Balance on the Tenure Track

For mothers in faculty positions, success is a “constantly moving target”

In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, MPRC faculty associate Thurka Sangaramoorthy writes about work-life balance as a constantly moving target for female faculty who are also raising children. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, more than half the recipients of doctoral degrees in the United States are now women (52.2%), but women are still underrepresented among tenure-track university faculty. Meanwhile, women are overrepresented in part-time or contractual faculty positions, and those with children struggle to match the career achievements of their single peers.

The spoken and unspoken expectations what a tenure-track professor should be able to accomplish are often overwhelming, especially for those who are attempting to build a meaningful family life in addition to their research and teaching responsibilities. Sangaramoorthy herself clocks an average of 60 hours a week as a tenure-track professor, on a schedule that makes raising two small children a constant challenge. “For some of us, it’s not that we are afraid to lean in,” writes Sangaramoorthy. “It’s that we have jumped in head first and are barely treading water even when we are considered ‘successful.’ It’s not that my success has come at the expense of family or that my career advancement has been stifled by raising a family. It’s that my success in academe is simply not the kind of success that I envisioned for myself.”

“Perhaps that is why so many of my colleagues choose alternatives to academe or leave before tenure. It may be that the lived experience of success on the tenure track fails to match up with what many women expect as reward for their fierce ambition and hard work.”

Read the story in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Link to Thurka Sangaramoorthy’s new book, Treating AIDS: Politics of Difference, Paradox of Prevention