Monday 14 September 2020

Bad bargains

 A good deal is where both parties feel that they've gotten a Win. A bad bargain, not necessarily involving bullying, leaves one side sold short - if only in their head. Sometimes that will result in long-term harm to the triumphal side; but often not. Not if there will be no repeat business, for example. When we sold the first and only house we bought in England, there had been a fair amount of traffic been vendor and purchaser. The keys were handed over at their solicitor's office - The Beloved did all the legal work on our side having read The Conveyancing Fraud by Michael Joseph [things may be different now]. TB left a card and a bottle of wine on the kitchen table before locking the front door for the last time. We never got an acknowledgement of that gesture which led to a sneaking suspicion that they found the subsidence cracks in the wall that we had briskly papered over. Kidding! we didn't do that but we did feel we got the market / fair price for the house and still hope that the purchasers had as much happiness there as we did.

I was skyping B my correspondent in Singapore and cited The Curse of Knowledge by Steven Pinker as important to bear in mind when teaching. That led her to leave a long informative comment on a Pinker inspired piece I wrote about the gender pay-gap. Including "In Singapore as young men have to do 2 years national service (but the women don't) they are offered more for entry level jobs then women. It's nice and plain on advertisements, usually anywhere from $500 - $2000 a month difference. This is to balance that they have had to sacrifice 2 years of earning that women have been able to take advantage of. "  I don't think that there is an equivalent balance to account for the years women take out of their careers to raise the kids. 

It's not only in explicitly patriarchal societies that men have got that boost in the early stages of their career. Last Christmas at the TCD Genetics alumni party, I was comparing notes with a contemporary who had played his pension cards much better than me. He could have retired on full pension [half pay] at 60 because, according to TCD, he'd done his full 40 years. But only because, when he started his lecturing in TCD in the 1980s, Personnel had credited him with 10 years of contributions because he'd taken time off to get a PhD. Needless to say, that door has long since been slammed shut as collegiate pipe-smoking Personnel has been taken over by a more rapacious businesslike HR. Many inequities are gender-neutral.  

My dealings with HR at The Institute have been much less happy. I know I am not alone in feeling that the hiring process was adversarial, officious and disingenuous. And I'm the patriarchy! I know that people younger and frillier than me have felt bullied into accepting a bad bargain. It's asymmetrical: The Institute has a list of candidates but the best placed candidate often only has one job on the horizon. <Don't do as I do but do as I say>: the best placed candidate does have a hand to play because it is awkward and time consuming for HR if s/he walks away after several days of negotiations and they have to see if candidate #2 is still interested. 

IF a generation of incoming faculty start by feeling hard-done-by and wrung out THEN they are less likely to do the extras that are essential to the running of a happy ship. Everyone working to rule and picking over the details of their contract doesn't deliver the best Learning Outcomes for the students.

1 comment:

  1. That will be Singapore correspondent B Nudger Blowfly please. You'll note things like Lean In and the huge raft of Women's Leadership Programs whilst there is a dearth of Men in Leadership Programs (sub title 'Try Not to be such an A$%H*&$'). I remember seeing a short piece by someone (probably Samantha Bee)about equality in Iceland and how the only bank to survive the financial crash was run by women. Negotiation is very difficult unless there is complete transparency with regards to salaries.