When I retired, my life continued as before except that I was not teaching students (“What does retirement mean for academics?”, Features, 8 December). My regret was that I was leaving behind a university sector that had become cold, lacking empathy towards its staff, and concerned with self-preservation at the expense of care for the students. This has got so bad, combined with excessive expenses that students have to pay, that not only are future applicants choosing alternative routes, but existing lecturers who are overburdened with this unfeeling bureaucracy are also leaving the profession in droves.
As a female academic reader, aged 56, who has recently been made redundant and has spent the past few years intensively teaching, but who has not been given the space for research, I do not recognise the experiences of the academics in this feature. There is no “revolving door” for myself and my colleagues who do not reach professorial status, and I have certainly seen the aggressive and successful removal of middle-aged women from academic departments. I would like to know if others share my perspective?
Anonymous Welsh Female
Yes, I have seen this in several institutions, I’m afraid. Workload allocation can be full of biases and stereotyping. Favours get done for “mates” (for example, they are given lots of cushy administrative roles that have high allocated hours but few actual demands). Perceived “mummy types” get loaded up with lots of draining face-to-face teaching, such as being given the largest generic first-year undergraduate classes with the most marking but no extra hours, as opposed to, say, a highly specialised master’s module with fewer than 10 students – which usually gets allocated to the “mates”.
I’ve seen female colleagues with the most difficult personal circumstances, such as multiple caring roles for sick children and terminally ill relatives, put into “special measures” at their annual appraisal for not publishing anything in 12 months.