Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jobs and applications

I am in the unenviable position of applying for academic jobs in a persistently abysmal market. The period of applications is almost over and the waiting for a call has begun.

There are definitely more jobs this year than last, but the major difference I've noticed this year is that most places are requiring - or are willing to accept - electronic applications. Some want them sent via e-mail, but a lot have set up the process through their university's HR department. Some of these work o.k. (I can upload my cover letter, c.v., and extra materials) but some treat my application like all other applications to the university which, I find is uselessly time-consuming and redundant (since all of my employment history is spelled out in my c.v. anyway).

A few weeks ago I applied for a job the day before the deadline through an HR website application (so I could wait until the last day). So, I was surprised to find, the next afternoon, a "condolence" message in my e-mail thanking me for my application and informing me that the department was looking elsewhere. There was no way they could have reviewed all those applications in less than 24 hours. They hadn't. I received another automated message later that day apologizing for the message that was sent in error. It wasn't just sent to me but to the entire applicant pool.

But this saga doesn't end here. Two days later I received the same message, which still seemed fast but was more plausible. And two days after that, a formal message from the Search Chair apologizing for the second "condolence" message and spelling out the timeline for the hire. The system had rejected the entire candidate pool not once, but twice.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A deep and abiding mysogeny

Truth be told, I became the parent of a tiny little baby a couple of months ago. My little one is of the xx persuasion and I have a not-so-little one of the xx persuasion as well. They are both awesome. They are darling and smart and make me laugh; I love them dearly. I am so pleased that my sweetie and I decided to bring them into our lives. So, I've been really annoyed by how many people don't share our joy because there isn't a y chromosome among the two of them.

To wit: when the banker, who was admiring the little one, found out the older one is also a girl, she demanded "are you going to try for a boy?"

Part two: well-meaning fellow who keeps our rental in running order explained that he loves his sweet daughters, but really wants a son. Then explained that a medical service will, for a fee, increase the change of getting the desired gender.

My sweetie has to remind me that not everyone understands gender is not limiting and parents can do everything that they want to with any child (from lizard hunts to dress ups).

I'm still annoyed, though, by these people who insinuate that I should be dissatisfied.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Memorium

From the UO History Depatment website:

Peggy Pascoe was the Beekman Professor of Northwest and Pacific History and Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon. With family and friends at her side, she died from ovarian cancer on July 23, 2010, at home in Eugene, Oregon. She was 55. Peggy is survived by her life-partner of 30 years, Linda Long, and their two daughters, Ellie and Joie Pascoe-Long. She will be profoundly missed by her colleagues and the many scholars and students who were deeply influenced by her pioneering research and teaching on the history of race, gender, and sexuality.

Peggy Pascoe’s book, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America (Oxford University Press, 2009), won five major national awards: the Ellis W. Hawley Prize (for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States) and the Lawrence W. Levine Prize (for the best book in American cultural history) from the Organization of American Historians; the John H. Dunning Prize (for best book in United States history) and the Joan Kelley Memorial Prize in Women's History from the American Historical Association; and the J. Willard Hurst Prize from the Law and Society Association for best book in socioloegal history. Pascoe was also the author of Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (Oxford University Press, 1990). All of her work explored themes related to the multicultural past, especially but not only in the U.S. West, and women’s complex place in that past. Her prize-winning book on miscegenation law posed challenging questions about why and how relations of race, gender, and sexuality in marriage had been historically structured as questions of self-evident nature rather than social power.

Peggy was a consummate professional who gave unstintingly of her time and talent to such organizations as the American Studies Association, the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Western History Association, and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She served as co-president of the Coordinating Council for Women in History from 1997 to 2000. She was a co-editor of the American Crossroads series at the University of California Press from 1996 until her death. In 2009, she was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for fostering diversity at the University of Oregon. She took particular pride in promoting the work of graduate students and mentoring junior faculty members and she took every opportunity to do both. The encouragement she offered to young scholars was legendary, and her ability to go to the heart of every problem, with diplomatic skill and calm, will be sorely missed by her university and professional colleagues.

Born in Butte, Montana, Pascoe said that the remarkable past of this struggling mining town spurred her interest in the history of the U.S. West. She graduated from Montana State University with a B.A. in history in 1977 and earned her M.A. in Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College in 1980 and a Ph.D. in American history at Stanford University in 1986. She taught at the University of Utah for ten years before moving to the University of Oregon in 1996.

A fund in Peggy’s honor has been established through the University of Oregon Foundation to support graduate student research in the UO Department of History. Contributions can be made to the UO Foundation: University of Oregon Foundation, 360 E. 10th Avenue, Suite 202, Eugene, OR 97401-3273 or online at with a note designating gift to the Peggy Pascoe Graduate Student Fund in History.

Peggy was my adviser. She will be missed by me and the many, many other scholars whose work and thinking she influenced during her very distinguished career.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On job aps and caffeine

My long silence has, in fact, been a moment of significant transition. I have finished writing the dissertation and graduated - by the skin of my teeth (and thanks to the magic of my advisor). Normally, I would begin adjunct teaching the fall, but I live in the educational wasteland of California where economic conservatism is winning the battle to eradicate public education. As a result, I've cast my net wide and applied for a government job last week. This was comparatively easier than the academic job applications I completed over the past several months. The ad asked only for a resume, transcripts, and on-line responses to about 80 questions, which, themselves, consisted of "have you ever completed a long-term project that required consistent focus and work outside of the normal work day?" Oh yes, I have.

I am not entirely optimistic about this one - the pool of applicants will, necessarily, be larger. But I do know that I am eminently qualified, which may work in my favor.

As I seek to broaden my job-seeking net, I am simultaneously struggling with my affection for caffeinated beverages. Long ago, my doctor warned me to stay off of them, so I gave up coffee and adopted a less-perilous tea affinity. Since completing my "long-term project," I've tried to wean myself entirely from caffeine (though not from soothing hot beverages, sweetened with milk and honey). Quite a challenge. Surprisingly, I've found that I miss coffee all the more.

My mate is a dedicated coffee-drinker, so we have plenty of this delightful nectar. And I allowed myself a small cup this morning, much to my delight. It was, indeed, just as magical and marvelous as I remembered.

Friday, April 16, 2010

oh my

My Spring Break last week included a visit to Knott's Berry farm where I did not go on Toyota's "Supreme Scream."

This ride takes on such a different connotation. I wonder if that is a Prius?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

my overdue AHA comment...

I attended the annual AHA meeting several weeks ago in lovely San Diego and have been mulling my thoughts about it during my brief moments of down time. (I am furiously revising in the hope of finishing in March even though Advisor still wants three rounds of revisions. Sigh.)

The AHA was good overall. I ran into friends I hadn't seen in a while and met some new cool people right from the start. Also, it was sunny and warm. This was my first AHA, but veterans tell me that usually the meeting is dreary and tense. Their near-universal approval of this one seems to boil down to changes: 1) a horrible job market which kept all of the job-seekers - and their conference-infiltrating panic - away, and 2) the southern California sun. Precedent indicates that next year's conference in Boston will be much less pleasant because all Boston can offer is grey skies and snow.

The job market was, indeed, as bad as all the rumors made it out to be. I applied for 20 jobs and got one interview, which, as I discovered, was a small miracle (since I'm ABD and don't attend a top-tier school). I think this speaks to the strength of my project(s) and breadth of training (in public and world history as well as US). Anyway, the interview went fine but not well and I walked away from our very pleasant conversation know that I would not have a campus interview. I'm ok with that. I also applied for only one job through the job registry. This list was sickeningly short. There were less than twenty jobs posted and only a couple in U.S. (and these wanted someone who could teach every aspect of world and US history and supervise interns and teach public history - basically everything). I'll be heading to Boston next year, so I comment then on whether there is any improvement or not.

The boycott was... disappointing. I knew that HERE planned to coordinate a boycott long before the conference and I supported the issues that motivated it. I also thought that the AHA took appropriate steps to use the Manchester hotel as a forum to discuss LGBT issues and the controversies over same-sex marriage. The hotel is not unionized and HERE (smartly) wouldn't say that they were trying to unionize workers there (let's hope so; they deserve union representation). This is why I didn't accept the unsolicited offer by one AHA member to reschedule my session for me in a different hotel. I also didn't feel remorse when I walked past the 3-4 person picket line rallied outside the Manchester on Friday.

Boycotting the Manchester turned out to be easy. I spent some time there but no money; that hotel was way beyond the means of graduate students, new faculty, and even some tenured faculty. The rooms were over-priced and so was all the food (in table-service only restaurants). I had to walk next door to the Marriott to find food at the Starbucks, which ran out by 1 PM because 60% of attendees also went for breakfast and lunch.

What I saw of the conference sessions were predicable, some good papers, some good comments. I didn't attend many because the AHA is exhausting and I needed down time. So, this is what I got from my AHA: meet up with friends, try to attend sessions, avoid the job registry, eat good food, and remember to relax.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

something to chew on...

I'm off to the AHA, under a particularly grim cloud that hangs over the profession. Here's the AHA's guru on the state of the profession, Robert Townsend's take on the job market.

If you're brave enough to read the above article then be sure to follow that up with the insightful questions Brainstorm asks of demand- and supply-side factors in the history job "market."