Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Negotiation--a must for everyone

I know this is the wrong time of year for a post on the importance of negotiation at the point of hiring, but since Dean Dad posted on this at his blog and the jobs are already beginning to be posted, I will go ahead and write on this topic. (Props to the artist, David Ross, for the pic--check out his gallery using the link embedded in the pic.)

As a feminist, I am a serious supporter of hearty negotiating. It may be because I am a Jew from the Northeast and my father was a salesman, but I have no problem talking about money. I do have some trouble asking for way more money than anyone else, so I don't tend to do that. I am more likely to find out the salaries of current faculty and to define for myself what seems reasonable--on the high end of reasonable, of course. As Dean Dad said, where you start dictates your income for years to come, if you stay at the same school.

At public schools, you can find out the salaries of current faculty members by asking the reference librarian for the list of salaries. They are called different things at different schools: university budgets, salary books, etc. (At private schools, I believe that you need a little inside help or you have to rely on aggregate data in the Chronicle. I am a public school kinda girl, so that is what I know firsthand.) The public school salary data are housed in different places at different institutions--libraries, faculty senate offices, and institutional research offices. The reference librarian always knows where they are.

Sometimes I find the salary data as part of my campus visit (called "visiting libraries") and other times I find it on my own--at the end of the day or when I first arrive. For one job interview, I knew I would have no time on campus to do my research, and I thought it was possible that I would get an offer on the spot. So, I called the reference librarian at the school before I went, and I got her to give me the info over the phone. That kind of service is rare, but I think I bugged the librarian so much that she did it basically to get me off the phone.

Dean Dad notes the particularities of schools with unions, and I have never actually worked anywhere that had a union, though I have friends who do. Deans at union schools are limited by the union contracts as regards actual salaries, but there are any number of resources that Deans usually control that can be negotiated. These resources include: start-up research money, TA and RA support, summer pay, moving expenses, timing of the beginning of pay, office furniture and computer technology, support for conferences and research travel, and so on. Everyone should include some if not all of these resources of the job in their negotiations.

There is a piece of negotiating that is an art. The candidate (you) has to be friendly and forceful at the same time. You want to drag it out long enough to make them deal with you, but not so long that everyone on the faculty and administration sees you as a diva (male or female, though women seem more likely to get tagged as "difficult" or "arrogant"). You want to be thorough (addressing those resources I mentioned) and yet not exhausting or unreasonable ("I must have the Levenger cherry wood desk"). The best negotiators approach the negotiation as just a normal stage of the hiring process.

Remember that the Dean's job is to get you as cheaply as possible without completely insulting you or losing you to another school. Deans will often talk with you about salary equity and his/her need to keep your salary in line with folks who have been on faculty for years. Don't get too taken in by that line of argument. It does not benefit other folks if you are paid poorly. In fact, if you get paid more than they do, most institutions eventually deal with the salary compression and wind up raising salaries to address equity issues. So, really, you help them more in the long run if you get paid what the market can bear (within reason).

Your job is to get as much as you can without being petty or unreasonable. If you are coming in as a brand new assistant professor, it is unlikely that you will be offered more than a full professor. However, you can easily make as much as or more than the other untenured professors. And, as for those additional resources--if you don't ask for it, you definitely won't get it. If you do ask, and the request is basically reasonable, the worst answer you can get is 'no.' It is extremely unlikely that a Dean will withdraw the job offer because you asked for something; more likely, they will just tell you that they can't do it. Of course, if you ask for something completely insane (and we have all heard of those), you will become the topic of much discussion and speculation for years to come. So, keep your requests reasonable, related to your rank and institution. (An aside: I am always amazed at some of the resources allocated to those higher up the food chain. It actually helps me negotiate. If a President gets country club memberships, a job for the spouse, a car, and a bonus for not leaving, why not ask for a little summer money?)

I have found that negotiation has gotten easier as I moved along in my academic career. I have more of a track record, a better sense of reasonable salaries/resources in my discipline, and an idea of what I really want and/or need in a job. That is not to say it is always easy for me. During my second job search, I had one negotiation with a Dean who sought to make me feel guilty in every conversation. While I held my ground on the phone, I literally cried after every phone call. Ultimately, the job offer did not work out due to a state hiring freeze, and I must say that I probably was lucky that it didn't. I can't imagine dealing with that Dean for years.

As an administrator/faculty member, there are a few extras to factor in. First, it was important to me, based on some great advice I got from other administrator friends, that I get at least a 10-month contract, but not a regular 12-month contract. The difference is important: a 10-month contract means I will need to be around a little in the summer, and my time attending meetings and working in the summer is paid, but I still basically have a faculty position. A 12-month contract means I have to act more like staff--at the office everyday, during regular office hours, and probably fairly well-dressed. (Okay, I admit it... I really like faculty life. I want to come in late, dress more casually, and work at home if it suits me. I have been surprised at how easily I have moved into spending more time in my office, but I fool myself into thinking that it is really optional.)

I have also learned that there are additional things I should have negotiated: support student/staff, funds for administrative training (separate from research monies, since I am still expected to do research), an office appropriate for meetings with students/faculty/staff/potential students and their families, a guarantee that I would qualify for a sabbatical like other faculty members, and travel to administrative/leadership conferences. Some of these I have had to negotiate post-hire, and others have yet to be negotiated. Hopefully, I will take what I have learned into my next negotiation.

I also hope that we will all take what we have learned and share it with doctoral students and colleagues. When we talk with doc students about job hunting, I am the one who focuses on the negotiation process. I want students to practice negotiating. I want the Dean to explain what it is like from his or her side, and what s/he thinks when s/he is negotiating with a candidate. I want there to be workshops on negotiation at our national disciplinary conferences. The better we are at negotiating up front, the more we raise the salaries in our discipline, the better off we all are in the long run.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hooray, I get to play!!

I got tagged by Tenured Radical and Tenure Track Newbie for this meme. The rules are that:
  • I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.

  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So, here are 8 interesting tidbits about me:

  1. In one of my various (small-town) work settings, my therapist was also my yoga instructor. Holistic, anyone?

  2. As a younger person, I worked at an amusement park for several summers, wearing a lovely polyester short set in 90-degree heat and working in the "games" area (pitch a quarter, throw a ring, shoot the water at the clown's mouth, etc.). I eventually became a manager there (this role clearly marking the beginning of my administrative prowess)...

  3. I had a baby grand piano in my bedroom growing up. Luckily, I was in a room far from the other bedrooms, so no one heard me playing in the middle of the night!

  4. I toured Jamaica and Barbados as a lead singer with a large jazz band, where we were paid with lodging and booze.

  5. I once performed in a benefit show on Broadway and backed into what I thought was a piece of the scenery. It turned out it was Tommy Tune. (He is a really tall dude!)

  6. I play an eclectic variety of Broadway show tunes, Christian praise music, and lesbofeminist rock in my car. (For some reason, the gf would rather control the music when we travel together.)

  7. I broke more pyrex during my one year of chemistry than any other student in the history of my high school.

  8. I will save the most embarrassing point for last: I am a huge "Charmed" fan. It helped sustain me when the gf and I lived apart for one year while she was in school and I was in our new home. I watched the morning reruns to get my depressed butt out of bed, and I came home from work and watched the afternoon reruns as a reward for going to the office. And the new episode that week was a special treat. I have a theory that Charmed is the successor to "Little House on the Prairie." The girls from Little House move out to San Francisco, the parents die/leave, the girls get to wear cool, sexy clothes, and they find out they are witches. Just like Little House, Charmed offers a lesson in every show, with smart strong young women characters. And yes, I am Piper (who is, in fact, the Laura character from LH).

Well, now you know some of the weirdness that is me!

For my choices, I pick Dean Dad, Evil HR Lady, New Kid on the Hallway, Profgrrrrl, BitchPhD, and Dr. JTN. Sorry to only get 6 of 8, but my knowledge of bloggers is limited, especially since some of my favorites nominated me or have already done this meme.

Happy July!

Court-supported Resegregation

The New York Times has an article about the implications of the new Supreme Court decision on policies to achieve integration in public schools, along with excerpts from the justices' opinions. The San Francisco Chronicle has another article on the negative response of civil rights advocates.

It is interesting to me that the majority decision(s) seem(s) to be very focused on a very narrow slice of "here and now." They argue that a specific group of white children wanted to attend school A, and because of the diversity policy, they cannot attend that school. The only harm they sustain is a curtailment of choice. This action is wrong, their advocates argue, because the denial was based on their race. There is not an argument about the quality of the 2 schools in question or any other harm that is caused.

It seems to me that the idea of integration as articulated in Brown versus Board of Education (and, subsequently, the practice of affirmative action) was rooted in historical trends of discrimination that had a clear negative impact on African American students. Not being allowed to attend the white school had clear negative consequences for the plaintiffs, related to their education and their health. Yes, I said health. Unlike children today who are bused to their assigned school, African American children as young as 5 or 6 in Topeka (and in other settings) often had to walk very long routes (up to several miles) to get to their schools. Their parents often had no cars, and local buses were reserved for white children.

Justice Roberts' emphasis on color-blindness as articulated as a goal in the Brown decision is very limited in its scope, and it ignores later laws and decisions that recognized the utility of color-awareness in righting old (and persistent) wrongs. Color-blindness is a neutral value at best, and like any totalizing approach, it lacks important nuance that informs policy and practice. If we stopped gathering data on academic achievement, dropout rates, and other educational outcomes for students of color out of a righteous sense of color-blindness, we could cavalierly say that we have no race problem in education. It would not mean that there is not racially-based disparity. Color-blindness is not a clear and easy force for social good. We must recognize that race matters in this country, and the way to work for justice is to recognize the impacts of race and work to maximize the good for all people.

The NYTimes quotes a number of scholars who say that this decision will have little effect on American society as a whole, because we (that is, school boards, college trustees, and corporate types) generally believe in the positive effects of diversity. I don't know if I buy that. We certainly don't support this value when it comes to purchasing our homes (see Gary Orfield's work on residential resegregation). We don't necessarily support this value when constituting our families and friendship circles.

After my family moved when I was 6 years old, I spent the rest of my youth (as a white Jewish girl) in a very diverse suburban community: going to school, working, befriending, participating in school activities, and dating people of different races, ethnicities, and cultures than my own. This experience improved my life as a white person. I am comfortable with differences, and I have a better understanding of the range of lived experiences, interests, and concerns that people in different cultures can have. I tend to seek out situations where I can live, work, and have relationships with people of different cultures and ethnicities. (That is not to imply that I don't have my biases; I do, and I still have to work to address them.) I seek out these situations not because I want to "learn" or out of some sense of seeking out the "exotic Other," but because this diversity is what is comfortable and familiar to me. After 20-some years in other settings, I can honestly say that very few white people I have met share this experience or perspective.

I don't know if the push for racial diversity in schools is a lost cause. I hope not. I think that those of us who had these experiences of growing up together need to raise our voices and argue for the benefits of diversity at every level of society. I was not raised to be color-blind. I was raised to see color, race, ethnicity, and culture, and value all of them. I was also raised, and trained in my later years, to see institutional racism and work to address its insidious effects.