Tuesday, July 14, 2009


There was an article in Inside Higher Ed about how women, especially in academics, settle far too frequently for less money and perks than they really have coming to them. They don't negotiate and jump at whatever crumbs are offered. I was wondering if I did that today. Of course, the position doesn't have any wiggle room, so perhaps I didn't settle. But if I were offered the next level in rank (is this ever going to actually happen????) I'm not sure I even know what I would ask for. More money? Breaks for research? And if they said no, I'm sure I would just slink away.

All this leads me think about what I'm worth. Since I finished my doctorate, I keep complaining that I don't get paid what I'm worth. I remind my husband as frequently as possible that I have more education than he does. But the reality is that my job searches are severely limited because even if I'm offered my dream job, I could never command a salary that would make it worth moving. His salary is easily double--okay, triple--what I made at my last job. (Just typing that sentence makes me want to cry). Obviously, piling more and more education on your resume doesn't exactly translate into dollars.

I'm not writing this to complain . . . much, but I'm finding it really difficult to wrap my mind around how I should be defining "worth." If I had stopped at the BA and worked throughout my twenties, I would have paid off a big chunk of my undergraduate loans and still be making more money than I do now. But I really do love the wiggle room in my schedule, and working with students (whose parents I'm not even allowed to talk to), the ability to do research on topics I'm truly excited about, and summers that I can use in whatever ways I see fit.

In my upcoming position, I'm thrilled at the salary, which is higher than my very low expectations. But what does it mean that my expectations are so low? When I told my husband the salary offer, he asked if they got confused and thought that I was starting in one of the science departments. Ha, ha. It's an interesting phenomenon.


ck said...

I've thought a lot about that too. I was on a great track at work before I left a few years ago and I can't even begin to wonder what that lapse in time would do to my "worth." Or what my worth really is.

Anonymous said...

A job is worth while only as long as you love doing what ever you do... yes salary is a major part of our job satisfaction and only if we can stand up to claim it we will get what we want.

Freedom Debt Relief

Ink said...

My friend and I talk about this so often...and of course part of it is that most of us taking prof jobs are so grateful to have gotten one in an oversaturated market that the pay is the least of our considerations. When you think about the fact that for every tenure-track position, there are often over 300 candidates, it makes it difficult to stand up and say And I Deserve More Money Too!

But many congrats for a happy salary!

The Steel Magnolia said...

You're all so right. I think I'll just be happy to be working (in a field I like, no less) and keep on keeping on!

Thanks for the well wishes, Ink!