If you’ve been hanging around a university for a long time, you probably know the saying, “If you want to do something, give it to a busy person.” This is doubly true if it is a woman of color.
As its author No club The problem is that these things are often referred to as Non-Promotable Tasks (NPTS).
NPTS differs from what is sometimes called office housework, such as arranging gifts or ordering leisure cakes. Many of us know how to look for these jobs, even though they are still inconsistent with women.
Instead, NPTs are more fraudulent because, although they are not in the currency that will create unique publicity (grants, publications, education excellence), they are important for the functioning of the organization.
Since NPTs are important for an organization, they can be quite time consuming. Evaluation projects and curriculum revisions may be included in this category.
They are also hiding. For example, as the authors point out, even a highly visible role such as an NPT acting as a department chair unless a faculty member wants to pursue a career path in university administration. These types of NPTs are important because they are not for the career path of the woman performing them.
So, what should a faculty member do?
Merciful, the author answers, what can he do. The job is not his alone.
I approached this book with some skepticism because I saw problems with just-said-no advice.
As an ambitious young assistant professor, I went to a campus panel discussion about the promotion from associate to full professor. I wanted to get an idea of the path in front of me. The person leading the workshop noted that the university wants to reach out to more women and full faculty members of all castes.
I had just left a diversity committee meeting and raised my hand to ask what the university was going to do about these same teams doing more service on campus. The panelists’ answer was simple: people need to learn to say no.
There are a number of obvious problems with this advice, as the authors of The No Club acknowledge:
- First, universities need to make this work. Someone is going to have to work. If I don’t mean that another extra woman is going to say yes, then that’s not good. “Just don’t say” solutions are very individualistic.
- Not all knocks are equal. It’s hard to say no to some work and interrogators. Also, the authors carefully document that women are more likely than men to receive NPT. That means you have to give more numbers. This challenge is called “tight culture”, which means there is a strong expectation around a woman’s behavior. Women are expected to be helpers, nurturers, team players. Neither goes against this cultural norm. Saying “no” in this way is risky for women, even more often than their male counterparts.
- After all, the NPT is not what the authors call the “solution to women’s problems.” Companies need to do these things and NPTs face real losses when colored and female employees are under extra pressure: valuable employees leave, promising scholars and teachers can’t work at high levels when drowning in NPTs, the culture of an organization deteriorates. Ironically, efforts to diversify organizational diversity may exacerbate the problem: if each committee must have one color faculty member, but the color faculty is only 25% of an organization, these faculties are being overworked compared to white peers (Amado Padilla calls it a “cultural tax”). . These are problems caused by companies, and they need to be addressed by companies
No club Provides advice at both personal and organizational levels. Of course, the authors suggest that we should give some numbers through the support of a club of the kind mentioned in the title.
But one of my choices in their advice is to build a “portfolio” of a woman’s NPT and work to align it with her values and interests over time. It strikes me as more active and satisfying than just closing the nose. After all, NPTs are ImportantAnd a well-curated (not too big) selection of them can be quite rewarding.
Advice for companies, however, makes me feel more fancy and more important. The importance of not asking for volunteers was my biggest takeaway. Because of the social expectation that women say yes, the volunteer situation creates more NPT for women. Instead, the authors offer miraculous suggestions in their simplicity: draw straw, take turns.
The book provides a more complex solution to more complex NPTs, but I was shocked to see how the revolutionaries clearly felt fair principles: What if each faculty member took a two-year term in the faculty senate? No noise, no quarrel.
Katherine Fusco is an associate professor of English at the University of Reno, Nevada. She also works as a trainer, helping teachers connect with values and meaningful goals in the middle of their careers. You can learn more about her here: https://katherinefusco.com/