Monday, September 21, 2015

Read this. Read all of it. Now.

Not only are female MFA students at high risk of sexual harassment, they remain dramatically underrepresented in many of the aspects of literary culture that they might enter after graduation, that they might need to get tenure. They get less prize money. They show up less often in anthologies. Their books are reviewed less often and they are reviewers less often. While total MFA and undergraduate creative writing degree recipients identify as women close to 70 percent of the time, neither the writers for mainstream media nor the authors published by small presses nor the winners of major prizes are 70 percent women. Instead, they are around 70 percent men. The percentage is exactly flipped in all those arenas where one might obtain something, from visibility to wages. The intensity of the disparity is numerically intense and repetitive. 

....While we do not have data specific to creative writing faculty, a 2011 AAUP report shows that full-time tenure track faculty were 58 percent male that year, and a 2009 study by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that women make up 51 percent of all adjunct faculty. A more recent, smaller survey by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, in which adjuncts self identified, shows the proportion of female adjunct faculty to be closer to 60 percent. Again, race and gender orbit around the same planet but at different rotations and rates. A report by the American Federation of Teachers notes that “underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are even more likely to be relegated to contingent positions; only 10.4 percent of all faculty positions are held by underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and of these, 7.6 percent — or 73 percent of the total minority faculty population — are contingent positions.” It’s often noted that in the 1970s 30 percent of faculty in higher education were contingent and that this percentage has since flipped, such that contingent faculty now comprise 70 percent of all faculty in higher education. The faculty in the 1970s was mostly white and male. The erosion of tenure has overlapped precisely with the entrance of women and those who do not identify as white.

- 'The Program Era and the Mainly White Room'