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Problems of getting an academic job as a middle-aged woman (opinion)

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I am a loyal worker – I give everything to bosses and institutions, I refuse to quit my job even under imperfect circumstances – because I believed that my hard work would be rewarded.

To pay for college tuition, I waited for tables at a regular restaurant chain with steak restaurants scheduled for odd times and durations. I was instructed to close the restaurant one evening and open the next day, I was covering changes for colleagues with a hangover if they were too busy or had previous bad experience with a client. Even though I was waiting for my last table in the 1990s, I still have fussy dreams of serving people – I have a hard time remembering the order at the big table, who has clothes on the ranch, and who has French behind the table needs ketchup, and for which requested A.1.

To pay for my master’s degree, I worked for two years on a TV channel, a little above the minimum wage and saved what I could. Then, while studying for a diploma, I was an assistant and researcher. I evaluated student essays until my eyes burned and the prescription for contact lenses deteriorated.

After earning my master’s degree, I became a word I didn’t encounter much while studying, but it soon became too common: allowance. I got a job at a public college, teaching five classes each semester, and earning less than as a full-time master’s candidate with a teaching and research scholarship. Yet my declining salary did not deter me from achieving my ultimate goal: a Ph.D. I applied and was accepted after one year of working in a sought-after and underestimated allowance.

After I finished my doctorate, I was sure there would be plenty of options. I wanted to be among the women who planned to have children on summer vacation so that I could happily work on what I enjoyed.

I received my PhD. at 35, at a time when my husband and I were fulfilling our dreams of starting a family. My husband, with a bachelor’s degree, was pursuing a career in the more lucrative field of video games, so I kept going on the extra track, postponing my dreams and ambitions to be a more consistent educator. For too many years, I have worked at a university that has slandered most of its low-paid employees, as well as with inconsistent and undesirable assignments – morning, late evenings and weekends, which tended towards introductory and redundant courses. The rewards for the psychics were real, but the pay was horrible.

I was lucky to find happiness and economic stability in my marriage. My husband’s income subsidized my standard of living and was also an ironic counterpoint to self-sufficiency, which I assumed would succeed with the ultimate degree: caring required me to limit my career and pay, making me more dependent on my husband’s income, forcing me to procrastinate his career on it.

Which brings me to the geographical changes of middle age, the relocation needed because of my husband’s work. I arrived in an unfamiliar city in need of employment after quitting a full-time job to relocate with a partner and teenage children. Now that I’ve reached a point in my life when I can finally put my career first, I’ve found that available vacancies don’t come to middle-aged women.

Corporate literature screams with titles like “Gender ageism is a new sexism”““Why age discrimination is worse for women“And”Why do women seem to bear the burden of ageism at work?”But wait, is an academy different from a corporate workplace? After all, we are the ones who study and advocate for diversity. The human resources departments of colleges and universities sought to codify the interview questions so that all candidates gained standardized experience. So how have we promoted gender inequality with such nods to equal opportunities? As we came to our flow she-cessionin which the highest edition is also involved?

I remember an emergency meeting on budget planning at a former job, where the head mentioned ways to save money to counter declining incomes and prevent an insolvency crisis: replace retirees with young workers. The gap between outgoing higher wages and lower wage requirements will bring big savings.

Employees my age and seniors at this college couldn’t help but notice that the new staff was young. We took note of the rationale for hiring, but we were told that it was not age discrimination per se, but the fact that college students expected their teachers to be like them and aspire to those vacancies that await after graduation .

Nor did I miss the fact that I had exceeded the age limit when, sitting in the lobby, waiting to be returned for an interview, the person assigned to accompany me looked at me and then approached the registrar to ask where the candidate was. Apart from the receptionist, I was the only one in the room.

An increasing amount of literature tells me to reinvent myself, rediscover lost love and lost goals. Recent TV shows like Newbie and The second act is Carol also take this topic by showing middle-aged people who have decided to start first in another field of employment. What is not true in these images is the unspoken statement that middle-aged people are just amateurs who try on different jobs, not people who are in need and worthy of employment opportunities. What’s more, the advice to reinvent yourself has the frustrating patina of providing an individual solution to a structural problem.

Because individual solutions to systemic problems are not realistic or fair, I have a few considerations that, while they do not solve the problem, may contribute to better outcomes for older applicants, especially women, who are judged more harshly than older male candidates. according to a study published in National Bureau of Economic Research.

Avoid stereotypes and prejudices. A friend mentioned the frustrating experience of working on a hiring committee at a university. After interviewing a candidate who is believed to be based on her resume and appearance, her late 40s or early 50s, committee members expressed doubts that her technical skills were up to date or that she would have the same length of service as other younger ones. In a university committee-style interview designed for standardized justice, such ignorance should not be left without refutation or rejection.

Indeed, to accurately predict how long someone will stay at work, I do not know the prediction tools. People learn new skills when it takes to succeed. They are fired or fired, leave for personal or family reasons or for better opportunities, and sometimes just don’t fit. Until a person has a job, one cannot know how he will work. Do not block the potential of candidates by not giving them the opportunity to prove their worth.

Do not think that the pay scale is unacceptable for an experienced candidate. As most job seekers understand, applying for a job is difficult. To manage this process, many are looking for vacancies that best match their qualifications and salary expectations. While the job may pay less than my previous job, don’t think I don’t know about it or succumb to a lower salary. The decision to hire is made by the candidate.

Don’t demand or question things that have nothing to do with work. Asking for an interview is an honor. Of all the possible candidates who meet the qualifications of hiring, only a few can be promoted. However, even when hiring on a committee, members are often allowed to ask additional or clarifying questions. And in my experience, the following questions are not intended to clarify, but to reduce – to have “evidence” that a middle-aged or older candidate does not cope with this task. For example, one gentleman asked me what research in neuroscience I had personally conducted as a teacher coordinator. In the service instructions about this requirement with interest was silent!

We have all probably witnessed territorialism and what some people with higher education have demonstrated. But committee members must follow the candidate’s decision according to published criteria. If someone goes beyond this line, other committee members should call them. Moreover, candidates should be able to refuse to answer special questions that do not shed light on their suitability for work or appear to be posed arbitrarily or brazenly, without compromising their chances.

I am still a loyal employee – ready to give everything to my superiors and institutions and refuse to resign even under imperfect circumstances. The question is, will these bosses and decision-makers see my resume, listen to my answers to interview questions, and represent me as part of their job? If they do, they will see my creativity and work ethic – instead of my age – and will be rewarded.

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