According to the Chronicle Newsblog
Female professors at the University of Texas at Austin earned an average of $9,028 less than their male counterparts in 2007, and senior female faculty members there feel more isolated and less recognized for their work than do their male colleagues.
The comments section at the Chronicle post is full of the usual dismissive commentary that arises whenever the issue of gender inequities in salary is broached. I liked this response from Meshiko:
It amazes me that despite the fact that year after year after year, report after report after report demonstrates that women are paid less, respected less, and promoted less, that many purportedly educated folks have a hard time accepting the data. You can pretty much always quibble about one or more methodological aspects of a study, but when hundreds of studies using different methodologies all reach the same conclusion, it is a bit difficult to deny it. But then, our president doesn’t think global warming is real.
In another Newsblog post, we learn about Alexander McPherson, molecular biologist at the University of California, who is refusing to attend a state-mandated two-hour training course on sexual harassment, at the risk of his job.
A molecular biologist at the University of California at Irvine faces the possibility of being put on unpaid leave because he won’t attend training sessions on preventing sexual harassment…Such training, Alexander McPherson [said], is a “sham,” and he has consistently refused to take it because, among other things, it “violated my rights as a tenured professor” and “cast a shadow of suspicion on my reputation and career.”
You can imagine the vigorous debate this piece generated in the comments section! The training is useless! He’s being forced to waste his precious research time! This training course is a waste of valuable resources at the hands of failed-academics-turned-administrators! Being “forced” to take this training violates academic freedom!
A string of replies says more or less the same thing: get over yourself, you pompous ass. It’s a job requirement. You want the job, you comply with the job requirements. Besides, it’s a CYA thing for the university and for the individual. Yes, maybe the training is a bit simplistic and could be better done. But you wouldn’t believe how many numbskulls there are out there who have no idea that behavior they consider perfectly acceptable is actually sexual harassment.
I really liked this comment, though, by voiceofreason:
I’m sure MacPherson and other posters have endured far lengthier and insipid trainings around lab safety protocols or purchasing procedures and complied without proposing “compromises” to the university or funding agencies. I have taken this training seminar as well, and the whole thing took almost no time at all. The outsized response in these posts and by MacPherson belie that a different issue is at play. The issue is not “time” or “getting work done” because the outlay is miniscule. So, what is that these people are opposed to?
The “compromise” McPherson proposed was “[to ask] the university to sign a disclaimer that says that he must take the training to remain employed and that he has never sexually harassed anyone that he has supervised.”
Hmmm…makes you wonder why exactly he’s so anxious to have this official proclamation of his innocence. It’s not like he’s being singled out to take this training course, so that people might look askance at him because of it – every employee has to take it. In any case, as voiceofreason suggested, I can’t imagine someone getting their knickers in such a knot over mandatory lab safety training. This is, pure and simple, resistance to an attempt to create a cultural norm of official disapproval and discouragement of harassing behaviors. You can argue about how effective the particular effort (the training course) is, but what, really, is the problem with giving two hours to learn a little bit about how to spot, prevent, and deal with harassment if and when it should occur in your work group? Mr. McPherson is so obsessed with defending his own virtue, so to speak, that he fails to see his responsibility: to help create an environment where harassment is not acceptable, and to deal effectively with it should it occur with someone he supervises. One doubts that Mr. McPherson cares much at all about that responsibility. No wonder he’s so eager to obtain an official absolution.