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Nice work or hard labour?: gender and higher education in Sweden and England
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.
University of New England.
2002 (English)In: Women, Work & Health: book of abstracts : III international congress in Stockholm 2002 / [ed] Carina Bildt; Lena Gonäs; Lena Karlqvist; Hanna Westberg, Stockholm: Arbetslivsinstitutet , 2002, p. 303-304Conference paper, Meeting abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper is concerned with exploring the changing character of work in higher education in Sweden and England. A study of this kind is timely not least because both countries have been subjected to a series of changes in recent years in their respective public sectors (Berg 2000; Clarke and Newman 1997) - with universities, according to some sources, significantly affected (Barry, Chandler and Clark 2001; Askling 1999; Fogelberg et al 1999; Prichard and Willmott 1997; Parker and Jary 1995). Yet the implications for female academics is only belatedly being recognised (Goode and Bgilhole 1998; Morley 1999; Edgren 1999; Clark, Chandler and Barry 1999; Berg 2001). The paper accordingly extends existing research by conceptualising areas of academic responsibility along the following dimensions: dog work, tough work, care work, real work and nice work respectively, in order to explore the changing character of intellectual labour and the gendered implications.Undervalued in relation to other areas of intellectual labour administrative or dog work has always been the province of academics, especially during their early years in the job when they take their turn as others before them. Recent years have seen a growth in routinised tasks with increasing bureaucratisation and seemingly endless paper trails attending peer review of quality audits as trust in professional discretion recedes (Power 1997). Increasingly administration is delegated to junior colleagues and administrators (or student support managers), often women. Organising the work of professional colleagues has likewise traditionally been the province of academics. Arranging timetables and 'persuading' colleagues to undertake heavy teaching loads and committee work has always been difficult and burdensome for those responsible. This tough work has recently been on the increase as Heads of Department, now seen as middle managers, are exhorted to manage the work of their junior colleagues, delegating academic leadership as necessary (Jarrett 1985). Where enacted in hard or brutal ways the gendered element of tough work becomes clear (Gilligan 1982; Rosener 1990; White 1995).Care work has been thought traditionally to be a significant factor in supporting students at university and reducing the wastage rates associated with systems of mass higher education (Halsey 1995). The pressures to massify into a New Higher Education system (Parker and Jary 1995) appear to have had a deleterious effect with those most affected being women, both as tutors and students (Cotterill and Waterhouse 1998). These are the staff forced to deal with the harder realities of daily life on campus for the newly (dis)possessed student 'customers'. Real work has historically characterised the role of academic labour, as lecturers seek to develop the spirit of intellectual enquiry and joy of learning in their students. In the face of attempts to speed up academic production, and make the job harder (Morley 1999:166), intellectual workers resist through trade union action, collegial support for one another and control of working patterns, taking work home where they can at least manage their time to some degree, and maintaining responsibility for content of lectures, seminars and tutorials as numbers grow. Here the greatest number of hours are invariably worked by the most junior lecturing staff who are women. Nice work on the other hand has offered sanctuary, an escape route to the pleasures of reflection where independence remains intact. And it is here too that men outnumber women in senior research positions. Whilst there may exist illusion in the dream of independence, as pressure for published output and income generation through research grants grows and makes the work much harder than it was before, it remains nice work if you can get it, perhaps the final refuge of beleaguered, predominantly male, academics keen to maintain professional autonomy. And it here that women are excluded - not just in Sweden and England but in many other countries around the world (Clark, Barry and Chandler 1998:209).The data for the paper derives from a series of in-depth interviews with female and male academics in middle management positions in Sweden and England in order to give voice to their experience of these recent changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Arbetslivsinstitutet , 2002. p. 303-304
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Gender and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-27862Local ID: 16d6b4c0-f1a1-11db-bb1b-000ea68e967bISBN: 91-7045-640-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-27862DiVA, id: diva2:1001053
Conference
Women work & health : 02/06/2002 - 05/06/2002
Note
Godkänd; 2002; 20070423 (kirhon)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2017-11-25Bibliographically approved

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