Do you think this is a feminist issue?

(33 Posts)
Sleeperandthespindle Tue 23-Aug-16 07:38:10

Long term lurker - I don't post in here much.
Just been thinking after a discussion with DH. I'm a teacher, have been for a long time, and although I'm very experienced and efficient now, I still do many hours of work outside classroom hours. Nowhere near as many as I used to (could be a 60-70 hour week when I was young!). This out of class work is necessary and an essential part of the job. You can't do the job at all if you don't do it.

My contract (full time) says 32 hours. It is accepted by all that it doesn't mean this. There are certain 'directed hours' which require you to be in school if the headteacher wants you there. The children are in school for 31.5 hours.

Anyway, the point (as I'm lying in bed on holiday while DH goes to work), he often says 'Well if my contract said 32 hours, that's all I'd do unless they paid me overtime'. This is not true - he's a doctor and often works unpaid overtime but also lots of well paid overtime. Then I started thinking about the fact that the vast majority of the teaching workforce are women and perhaps this expectation of unpaid drudgery is because of that? I know there are exceptions, of course.

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 23-Aug-16 09:12:18

Hmm, it might be a feminist issue. I'm not a teacher so I don't know how it breaks down within the profession specifically. However, it's my experience that when you reach a certain level in any professional career, the hours in your contract are pretty nominal, and you're expected to do whatever hours are necessary to get the job done. So it's not necessarily a feminist issue in and of itself - though it certainly becomes more so in terms of women's ability to commit to those sorts of jobs as their home lives may not permit it due to caring responsibilities. That is definitely the feminist element in it.

ThatStewie Tue 23-Aug-16 10:59:11

It very much is a feminist issue as pay is gendered. Teachers are simply not paid according to their training or experience. They are expected to put in free labour that simply isn't expected in most professions - the exceptions being things like investment banker, director and medicine which are all much higher pay employment.

Sleeperandthespindle Tue 23-Aug-16 12:37:11

Thanks. So, would a profession that is male dominated to the extent that this one is female dominated work in this way? Would men be prepared or expected to put in this much unpaid work?

caroldecker Tue 23-Aug-16 12:56:55

Every profession requires unpaid overtime - I've not met a lawyer, accountant or doctor that doesn't do it. And for many more weeks than teachers.

VestalVirgin Tue 23-Aug-16 13:05:55

Lawyers and doctors earn more than teachers, though. Not sure about accountants.

The fact that ordinary teachers who haven't been promoted to any fancy position, and who don't even want to be promoted, are expected to work overtime, may well be a feminist issue.
Though probably one of the less obvious ones. I wouldn't choose it as the profession to point at with regard to wage gap. Nurses are in a worse position than teachers, I think.

caroldecker Tue 23-Aug-16 14:30:30

Vestal They are still professional jobs where unpaid overtime is expected. If you add in the extra childcare required for non-teaching jobs, then I would expect them to pay less than teaching.

ladyvimes Tue 23-Aug-16 14:36:55

No I do not think it is a feminist issue. Both myself and my husband are teachers and he works much more overtime than I do.
I actually think in general teachers' pay is reasonable and extra hours are an expected part of the job as it is salaried rather than paid hourly (you don't work 32 hours a week during the 13 weeks school holidays).
Many of my friends in professions that are salaried (nurses, doctors, solicitors, etc) all work over their 'standard' hours.

ladyvimes Tue 23-Aug-16 14:38:09

Also is teaching female dominant? Primary definitely but I would think secondary is fairly equal.

Xenophile Tue 23-Aug-16 14:56:17

It's probably a feminist issue in that, as the profession has become more female dominant, it has been more and more undervalued. This seems to be a trend with all careers and jobs that become female dominated. For example, medicine in Russia. The converse is also true, when industries become more male dominated, they become more lucrative, for example, computer programming.

Unpaid overtime in any job is an issue anyway. If employers value your contribution, they will pay for it. If you're expected to do lots of unpaid overtime, your employer probably doesn't value your input enough, so you just stop doing it.

thedancingbear Tue 23-Aug-16 15:17:37

Also is teaching female dominant? Primary definitely but I would think secondary is fairly equal.

Very much female dominant at primary. Slightly male dominant at secondary.

Depending on how you measure it, I wouldn't be sure of teachers earning less than solicitors or accountants. There are some very high-earning solicitors and accountants that will drive the mean up quite a lot, but I'd guesstimate that the medians were about the same. There are many legal aid solicitors and the like with full-time incomes beginning with a '2'.

DrDreReturns Tue 23-Aug-16 16:21:25

Agree with thedancingbear - when people say 'Solicitors' they immediately think of people in the city on loads of money. But your typical provincial solicitor probably, imo, has comparable pay with a teacher.

OlennasWimple Tue 23-Aug-16 16:24:23

I also can't think of a profession that doesn't require overtime (paid or unpaid).

TeiTetua Tue 23-Aug-16 16:24:34

If we're going to talk about the extra hours that teachers put in, we should also consider the very long holidays that they get, versus other people in the paid workforce who work all year round. It's funny how one item gets plenty of discussion, and the other doesn't! What's a teacher's salary on a per-hour basis?

TheSparrowhawk Tue 23-Aug-16 16:47:51

I think the extra hours are a feminist issue from the point of view that the traditionally 'female' things that teachers do, like nurturing students, giving encouragement, dealing with emotional issues and simply being nice to pupils and chatting to them are seen as unnecessary timewasting, while more 'masculine' type work like collecting data and meeting targets are prioritised over everything else. Similar things have happened in nursing, where women had developed a very 'feminine' way of working and a huge part of the job was just being with patients. From a 'masculine' viewpoint sitting chatting with a patient isn't work that should be paid for, that's just women gossiping and wasting time. The result of the 'masculinisation' of these working environments and the editing out of feminine working is chaos - stressed teachers and nurses who continue to do the 'pointless' feminine aspects of their job while trying desperately to justify their existence with data and targets.

It's a similar thing to how mothers are seen. Women are responsible for bringing every single one of the 7 billion people on the planet, plus their billions of ancestors, into this world and for the most part every single person in the world who has ever lived has been raised by a woman. And yet pregnancy is seen as a nuisance and staying home with children is seen as 'doing nothing.'

lifeofsiam Tue 23-Aug-16 17:01:41

I'd describe myself as a feminist, and work in a job which is male-dominated and earn at least the same, often more, than my colleagues.

Extra hours are expected and normal.

Personally, I don't think what you describe is a feminist issue. If you have a profession, or any level of responsibility, it comes with the job.

FreshwaterSelkie Tue 23-Aug-16 17:05:49

That's really interesting about the 'masculinisation' of working environments, Sparrowhawk. I've not seen it articulated quite like that before, but it makes a lot of sense.

In my industry (banking), it's not that women are expected to put in the effort above in a way that men aren't (or at least, to a greater degree than we do in the world in general wink), so the way the OP phrased didn't to me seem to be overtly sexist. That said, in banking, it's very clear cut that the number of women falls off a cliff at a certain level of seniority. One of the (many) reasons for that is that the job starts to become an overwhelming, 80+ hour week type of thing, and so many women just can't accommodate that. The unpaid drudgery was expected of both sexes equally. But there's a much wider point to debate I think, and there are so many different factors at play in different industries.

SpeakNoWords Tue 23-Aug-16 17:07:39

TeiTetua teachers technically aren't paid for the holidays, their pay for term time only is divided across 12 months. So if you wanted teachers to work in their current holiday time you would expect to pay them for that time.

Thurlow Tue 23-Aug-16 17:11:58

It's a real stretch to see this as a feminist issue. It's more an issue with teaching at the moment, and what is happening in schools and in the profession as a whole.

Traditionally there are a lot of far more 'feminine'/female dominant professions that are paid less in comparison to 'male' professionals. I don't imagine anyone is going to question that.

But for me it falls into the wider issue of many essential professions being underpaid - police, paramedics, fireman etc. Not women being underpaid per se.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 23-Aug-16 17:34:36

They are expected to put in free labour that simply isn't expected in most professions

I have never worked anything resembling my contracted hours

caroldecker Tue 23-Aug-16 17:58:18

Speakno - therefore their salary is higher - £28k for 30 weeks a year is c.£50k 'full' time. Very much a professional salary.

Stevefromstevenage Tue 23-Aug-16 18:41:27

I don't think it is a feminist issue, I think it is an extremely poor management issue. I am from a long line of teachers in a non UK country. They do not nearly work the hours UK teachers work and have longer holidays yet the education outcomes between the 2 systems are in a par according to international standards. Teachers are working much harder in the UK for not necessarily better outcomes so I completely believe it is an entirely flawed system.

SpeakNoWords Tue 23-Aug-16 19:18:59

caroldecker it's 39 weeks not 30, so more like £37000 for full year I think, although my maths could be completely wrong.

Teachnottech Sat 27-Aug-16 20:58:02

You need to remember that the "12 week holiday" includes all public holidays, 30 days annual leave and the remainder is unpaid 'school closure'. It's not a case of doing 39/52 x other salary as pro-rata to compare, because no-one should work 52 weeks a year.

Most professionals get 8-10 (sometimes up to 12) public holidays and 25-30 days annual leave. That's 5-6 weeks annual leave plus 1.5-2 weeks public holiday. Those professionals actually have 6.5 - 8 weeks worth of holidays. That means other professionals work 44- 45.5 weeks a year, compared with a teacher's 40 weeks.

Even those on statutory minimum leave (28 days, including public hols) only work 46.4 weeks of the year.

Beardsareweird Sun 28-Aug-16 19:50:03

This out of class work is necessary and an essential part of the job. You can't do the job at all if you don't do it.

I have been teaching for over 25 years and have never, ever worked a 60-70 hour week. I arrive for work at 7.30am and I leave at 5pm. I don't take work home with me, and I don't work in the holidays. Everything gets done and I manage my time well.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now