Paul L. Caron

Monday, March 22, 2021

Institutional Service, Student Care-Work, And Misogyny: Naming The Problem And Mitigating The Harm

Mary A. Lynch (Albany) & Andrea Anne Curcio (Georgia State), Institutional Service, Student Care-Work, and Misogyny: Naming the Problem and Mitigating the Harm, 65 Vill. L. Rev. 1119 (2020):

Study after study finds that higher education female faculty, and particularly women faculty of color, carry a disproportionate share of student care and institutional service work, much of which remains invisible and uncredited. Asymmetrical reliance on women faculty to expend the time and emotional labor costs involved in these tasks often inhibits scholarly productivity, impedes career advancement, and makes it more difficult for women to achieve reputational status and monetary rewards equivalent to comparably situated male faculty.

In this article, we explore how victim-blaming myths such as “women just volunteer more often” or “women can do less if they just say no” have been dispelled by data-based studies. Yet these myths continue to be used to perpetuate patriarchal structures that embed service and care workload disparities into the academy. We explore how misogyny, as defined by Philosopher Kate Manne in her iconic book Down Girl, has been the policing force that institutionalizes victim-blaming myths and resulting disparities. We discuss how the intersection of victim-blaming myths and the policing force of misogyny exact a toll both on women who comply with, and those who seek to upend, care giving and service norms. We posit that identifying the problem as misogyny is particularly important given that misogyny, as played out on an institutional level, often takes the form of what has been called “soft misogyny” i.e., behaviors by those who espouse a belief in equity and yet make decisions, often subconsciously, that appear fair and driven by individual choice but in fact perpetuate patriarchal structures.

We conclude with some solutions, based upon existing data-based literature, about how to address service and care work disparities. These solutions do not look to individual women faculty but instead require recognition that the disparities are institutional problems requiring institutional solutions.

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