A Stupid Article on How Marriage is Bad for Female Professors

What is this, folks? The week of anti-causality articles? Yet another completely idiotic bit of fluff has been published in Inside Higher Ed whose contributors seem to be on a warpath against formal logic. The article claims that marriage somehow slows down the progress of female academics’ careers:

Marriage appears to speed up the advancement of male historians but slow down that of female historians, according to new data from the American Historical Association. . . One of the issues debated in many disciplines has been the slow path of promotion from associate to full professor for women as compared to men. The new data from the AHA suggest that marriage has a different impact on men and women in the history profession.

Once you read the entire article, however, you realize that this is yet another case of “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy. The article fails to list any ways in which getting married could conceivably hamper a female academic’s career as opposed to, say, living together without formalizing the union, having a boyfriend or girlfriend, or being in a long-distance relationship. What the article does instead is enumerating the ways in which child-birth slows down a female academic’s career progress. Unless the authors of this strange article are living in the XVIIIth century, I’m sure they have noticed by now that marriage and child-birth are very different concepts that might or might not overlap.

Of course, after the article’s authors engage in this scandal-mongering and sensationalist bit of data manipulation, I wouldn’t trust them to tell me what the weather is today. In my opinion, this stupid article is part of the push to keep women down by telling us lies about the supposed sacrifices we need to make at every turn of the way. Marriage itself is in no way detrimental to female profs’ careers. But such alarmist, dishonest articles are in that they contribute to the perception that being a female scholar is an insurmountably hard task that should probably not even be attempted.

To offer a bit of anecdotal evidence, I got married in my first year on the tenure track. Obviously, I didn’t get married to improve my career but marriage did have that effect. I now have somebody to share the burden of paying bills and doing the household chores, I feel happy and energized, my personal life is blissful, and that makes it easier to concentrate on work. At the same time, I’m sure that people who live together without formalizing their relationship can have the exact same experiences.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find this anti-women piece of idiocy published in the trashy NY Times, but to see it appear in an academic publication really rankles. Haven’t we had enough of the stupid and sensationalist garbage telling us lies about the horrible price women are supposed to pay for having personal lives, for getting married and having children? Such articles are nothing but projections of the diseased minds of their authors who want to see women punished for having lives.

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3 comments on “A Stupid Article on How Marriage is Bad for Female Professors

  1. The reason why these articles tend to be popular is that they agree with most people’s politics. Most people prefer to believe that women cannot possibly be good at their jobs _and_ have a good family life; if they have a good career, they must have sacrificed something in return. These articles make the majority happy: housewives can now justify their lives, and women without satisfactory personal lives can justify theirs. Men too are happy because now they know that those uppity women in their office after all don’t have a family life and are really miserable creatures at the end of the day.

    • This is EXACTLY what I’m trying to say. People are so deluded by their ideological needs that they prefer to disregard the most obvious slips in logic. Anything, as long the old certainties get confirmed.

  2. Well it’s not just women getting married according to Robert B. Townsend who is the author of the paper which you mentioned; it’s also the “humanities effect.” In another paper by this author using the same data set and entitled,”The Ecology of the History Job: Shifting Realities in a Fluid Market.”

    “One other change in the ecology of the academic job market is worth noting, as history salaries are now suffering from the “humanities effect.” As history has become more closely identified with the humanities over the past 25 to 30 years, history salaries have fallen below the average for all disciplines.

    Back in the mid-1980s—when history was more closely aligned with the social sciences—history was above the average in academia. Since then, the discipline has fallen decisively below the average and now stands close to the other humanities fields such as English and Foreign Languages.”

    http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2011/1112/The-Ecology-of-the-History-Job-Shifting-Realities-in-a-Fluid-Market.cfm

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