Tenure and Toddlers

by Kieran Healy on November 24, 2003

I’ve written before about the way debates about work-family conflict are framed. In general, men with children are not thought to face work/family choices. Alternatives to this way of thinking about it — analyzing the institutions that structure people’s choices, for example — are often dismissed as utopian flim-flam. It’s a good example of how social facts are mistaken for natural facts. Quite sensible people — who know that it’s silly to argue that cloning, contraceptives and representative government are wrong because they are “unnatural,” for instance — can often be found insisting that the Pleistocene Savannah has set implacable constraints on the institutional design of work/family policies in postindustrial democracies. This is not in itself a clearly wrong claim, but, oddly, the particular constraints closely approximate the gender division of labor not of the Pleistocene Savannah but of portions of the U.S. middle class between 1945 and 1960.

I bring this up because I read an interesting report on the impact of children on men’s and women’s careers in academia. There are several ways to put the findings, but here’s one:

Twelve to fourteen years out from the Ph.D., 62 percent of tenured women in the humanities and social sciences and 50 percent of those in the sciences do not have children in the household. By contrast, only 39 percent of tenured men in social sciences and humanities and 30 percent of those in the sciences do not have children in the household …

Tea With Lance

by Kieran Healy on November 24, 2003

Met Lance Knobel yesterday and had a cup of tea. I raise my hand and claim responsibility for the quote about Canberra in the first paragraph of his post this morning. Lance himself tries harder than I did to be charitable to Canberra, and comes up with “it bids fair to make it to the better category of invented capitals.” High praise indeed.

Free speech on campus

by Henry on November 24, 2003

The University of Toronto has recently had a minor to-do about free speech, and the circumstances under which it can be exercised on campus. A Palestinian group, Al-Awda, which is officially recognized on campus, wanted to book university facilities for a conference on “Palestinian Solidarity.” It required that all people attending the conference sign up to a six point “basis of unity” in order to be admitted. _Inter alia_ they had to sign up to the statement that “Israel is a racist apartheid state,” and that “[w]e support the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli and colonialism (sic) by any means of their choosing.” The University told Al-Awda that it could not the conference unless it removed the requirement that all participants sign up to the “basis for unity.” Al-Awda declined to do this, and the University revoked Al-Awda’s booking of the room.

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Cloning (4)

by Brian on November 24, 2003

No argument this time, just a serious question. If cloning is to be banned, that presumably means there will be criminal penalties for creating clones. Who, exactly, should be vulnerable for those penalties? If a couple X and Y decide they want a cloned baby (say with Y’s DNA inserted into one of X’s eggs), and Dr. Z assists with this so clone baby A is born of X, who should be punished for this act of illegal cloning? X? Y? Z? A? (Well, presumably not A.) Any others?

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Modern Greats

by Henry on November 24, 2003

There was an interesting “imbroglio”:http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=529&ncid=529&e=3&u=/ap/20031120/ap_en_ot/national_book_awards at the National Book Awards ceremony on Wednesday. Stephen King, who had just won an award, made a speech telling the gathered dignitaries of the literary world that they should be reading more popular bestsellers. Another award winner, Shirley Hazzard, politely but firmly dissented from the idea that people should pay any attention to “a reading list of those who are most read at this moment.” According to Terry Teachout, “who was there”:http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/archives20031116.shtml#60797, you could tell that Hazzard “was torn between her obligation to be tactful and her desire to tear a piece off King.”

Update: more on this from “Terry Teachout”:http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/archives20031116.shtml#60900, “Ophelia Benson”:http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=41 and “Sarah Weinman”:http://sarahweinman.blogspot.com/2003_11_16_sarahweinman_archive.html#106936514304055841. Teachout also has a nice “piece”:http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/archives20031109.shtml#59492, which I hadn’t spotted before, about the merits of one genre series, Donald Westlake’s Parker novels (written under the pseudonym of Richard Stark). It’s a series for which I’ve a “weakness”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000320.html myself.

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