‘It Looks as Though the Overwhelming Majority of MOOC-Calibre Teachers Are Men’
The public face of university teaching is still that of the tenured professor, and by the numbers, that face is still male. Go into university classrooms, however, and you will start to see a lot of women teachers. By the numbers, most of these teachers do not have, and never will have, tenure. They are doing a tremendous percentage of the “grunt work” of university teaching: introductory level, marking-intensive courses. In Canada, these teachers are in labour market terms literally invisible: data on their absolute numbers and the percentage of FTE they cover are not collected. In the United States, where such data are collected, they are the absolute majority of university teachers. It is not a narrow majority: according to educational policy researcher Gary Rhoades, tenured faculty now represent less than 30% of all people teaching at American colleges and universities.
As Marc Bousquet discusses in his 2008 book How the University Works, this large majority of university faculty is disproportionately female just as its tenured minority counterpart is disproportionately male. The members of this academic majority work, often for years, on fixed-term contracts with pay much lower than that of their tenure track and tenured colleagues and with no long-term job security. They are supposed by many of their better-compensated colleagues to be motivated by love: of their disciplines, of teaching, of academia itself. They do it, despite the low pay, the insecurity, and the petty humiliations of lacking things like a permanent office or even a budget for pencils, because they care.