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to get angry about my uni promotion interview yesterday?

(23 Posts)
WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 13:09:09

On here for a moan, really, and some moral support from others who might have had the same experience. Was interviewed for promotion from lecturer to senior lecturer yesterday. Discrimination/lack of women in promoted positions a well-documented state of affairs in my field (as in many). I was asked at interview to "explain" why I'd been so unproductive in the first 8 years of my career when, among other things, I had two kids and two years of maternity leave. This is just so wrong, isn't it? In the last six years I've published a book, 9 articles and won a £45,000 grant (am in a humanities subject area)! Surely it's obvious that motherhood held me up and they are asking me to justify this!!!

Am fuming. Don't know if I will get the promotion yet but if I don't these people should be taken to court. Unis in the country really get away with so much discrimination, don't they?

Fizrim Tue 16-Jun-15 13:29:12

Post 1992 Uni?

suchafuss Tue 16-Jun-15 13:36:34

Well done you for what you have achieved!

I'm a mature student with disabilities and have been shocked at the attitudes of some of the people I have come across in what I was expecting to be an enlightened environment. Careers advice was dire, hearing that I had an 8 year old her only suggestion was teaching. Lectures go ahead when weather conditions mean all local schools are closed putting mums at a disadvantage as they have no alternative child care (course is heavy with single mums, social work). Finally my disabilities are hidden but do affect my mobility and concentration. When I mentioned this to one lecturer instead of discussing it with me he sent a curt email to say that he would not allow me into lectures late. Didn't mind this so much it was the fact that he had dismissed me without talking to me and as he was a psychology lecturer I would have expected him to realise how this would make me feel totally discredited.

WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 13:43:15

No, pre-1992 uni where the old boys club still rules.

Many sympathies suchafuss. What you say doesn't surprise me in the least, sadly, but suffice to say you'd be welcome in my lectures! Also, am not surprised about the careers advice. In those first years of my career I was struggling in all sorts of ways and received no guidance from management whatsoever.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 16-Jun-15 13:44:59

Well did you say 'in the six years I was working, I achieved x,y,z which is actually pretty fab and compares extremely well to my peers, so what are you talking about?

Ball back in their court time. Quite possibly asked as a way to prompt you to show off about everything you had achieved. Are you certain that wasn't the case, or they wouldn't have been impressed by a confident answer?

pearpotter Tue 16-Jun-15 13:45:18

Doesn't sound remotely unproductive and that's exactly how I would answer the question.

"In the last eight years I have given birth to and have been raising two children. I have also written and published a book, nine articles and secured funding. What you want for an encore, a dancing dog?"

WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 13:47:11

Well of course I did boast about all I've achieved in the last six years and all I will achieve in the next six - but they were focusing on the fact that when you look at what I've done as the product of a 14 year career it doesn't really add up to much....

JohnCusacksWife Tue 16-Jun-15 13:48:40

You know how it is in universities now though. It's all about the Research income you can pull in and your performance in the RAE. Do you know who you ere up against? Is their R output greater than yours?

WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 13:59:07

Looking at the last six years I compare very favourably both in terms of research output and research income with my peers....before that I didn't compare so well - but then my (mostly male) peers were not on maternity leave, were they?

MNpostingbot Tue 16-Jun-15 14:00:05

Why get angry? Just answer the question isn't it a great opportunity to demonstrate what you achieved

Job interviews aren't personal attacks, I routinely ask challenging Devils advocate questions, it's not just the answer I'm looking for, it's the reaction to the question.

The interviewer was probably well aware what you'd been doing, just gave you a platform to articulate it.

WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 14:08:11

I know they are not there to be nice to me. And I can stand up for myself. I guess I was just assuming that the fact that maternity leave retards ones career isn't something that you should need to justify - it's a given and you shouldn't have explain it.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 16-Jun-15 14:11:31

I guess you don't want to play to their prejudices (and an illegally prejudicial line of questioning) by saying that you have had your children now and can be guaranteed to focus fully on your career... Much as that idea has probably already occurred to them as a reason to favour you over an as yet childless woman.

SallyMcgally Tue 16-Jun-15 14:16:58

Well, it's also illegal for anyone to discriminate against you because you've had children, so they'd need to be watching their step there. You've achieved brilliantly in the last 6 years - writhing in envy over your grant I must say. I keep getting e-mails that say 'We regret that on this occasion . . . '

CollatalieSisters Tue 16-Jun-15 14:19:53

Agree. Seems ludicrous. For a sector full of highly intelligent people, academia often seems surprisingly full of idiots. Your productivity during and around maternity leave are surely irrelevant compared to your performance in the last 6 years. Why get angry? How not to get angry!

WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 14:20:33

Well, that is what I was thinking on the legality front, SallyMcgally. And as to the "We regret that on this occasion...." emails - I had six of those before I got the "We are pleased to inform you...." Keep plugging away!

SallyMcgally Tue 16-Jun-15 14:22:46

Well then you've also got an extremely impressive record of grant applications as well behind you! Please may I have your CV?

RhiWrites Tue 16-Jun-15 14:25:02

Look into the Leadership Foubdation aurora programme. It is helping to combat sexism in HEIs.

And no, YANBU

mumofthemonsters808 Tue 16-Jun-15 14:30:13

Was there no HR representative present ?, I've worked for a UNiversity and no way on this earth would that question have been approved for inclusion.Our University was rightly very kean to ensure the interviewing process did not discriminate against anyone and did not dispute any of it's equality policies.Im imagining this is a group of lone wolfs doing their own recruitment process in line with the 1950s, sometimes academic staff can be very difficult when forced to comply with policies.

murmuration Tue 16-Jun-15 14:32:56

Yeah, that would make me angry too. And it's especially disconcerting in an interview when people ask something so counter to your understanding -- there you are, believing you have an excellent track record, and they ask you why you are unproductive?

I once completely flummoxed myself in a similar-but-different situation, where I was interviewing for a fellowship and had pioneered a particular technique for a particular application. The interviewers asked "Why are planning to use technique X, when everybody is using it?" I stumbled in answer, talking about how great it was technique X was proving so useful in this area, whereas I should have made sure to point out the interviewers that I had come up with the idea in the first place! It was just so unexpected and outside the parameters of what I knew to be the case that in the 10-minute interview I just didn't get my head around what they could be thinking and how I could answer.

WillPenn Tue 16-Jun-15 15:00:26

There was an HR person there....a woman...she said nothing.

Hereward1332 Tue 16-Jun-15 15:43:13

Presumably they asked the question so that you could explain, and your reasons be noted. If they didn't ask the question and officially record your answer, would another equally qualified candidate who had achieved more in the early stages of their career not be justified in asking why they weren't promoted instead? This is assuming that they actually knew your circumstances - if they didn't know, then it seems like a reasonable question.

Fizrim Tue 16-Jun-15 15:53:38

Ah, pre-1992 - was it an AR Committee meeting type of interview?

As JohnCusack mentioned, money can be a big plus in your favour nowadays. Not that I think it's right it should take over from peer-reviewed articles/published research in terms of weight, but I suspect it's right up there.

I hope you are successful with the promotion. It would be interesting to see what the other candidates achieved in those years ....

woolymum Tue 16-Jun-15 17:00:01

i am assuming that they were not aware of the mat leaves so if they were looking on paper at a rather "empty" 8 yr period followed by a "busy" 6 yr one could they not be clarifying in their head to what you had been up to in case you were busy on some long term research?
maybe they phrased it badly, but i think the better think alround is to focus on the last productive 6 yrs and how you planned to progress on that.

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