I am sure that Susan Bassnett's contribution to your How to Get Promoted booklet (November 19) was intended to be supportive of academic staff on fixed-term contracts. It was, however, very patronising.
First, it seems odd to suggest that access to a secure job should be considered a promotion. Second, the title you gave to the chapter, "The first rung", subtitled "How to convert a fixed-term contract into a full-time job", lends weight to the myth that fixed-term staff are on the "first rung" of an academic career and that the work they do is not the "proper" full-time work permanent academics do.
These are myths the Association of University Teachers has been trying to dispel for a long time. Academics on fixed-term contracts are often experienced researchers and teachers who do exactly the same work as their permanent colleagues. It is condescending to suggest they should sit in on staff-student liaison meetings, learn to write decent CVs, learn how to use PowerPoint and enhance their computer skills if they want to be considered for a permanent job.
Lastly, Bassnett suggests that fixed-term staff should work harder and stop complaining if they want permanent jobs. Wouldn't this approach simply facilitate their exploitation?
Bristol Business School
University of the West of England