H/T to Deb Parkes for sending me Janni Aragon’s (UVic polisci) Guardian blog post on the emotional labour of teaching. Summer’s a better time to confront some of these questions, no? There are both fewer students, and some particularly difficult post-marks meetings with students.
In my time as an academic, I’ve accompanied students to the police department to report a sexual assault and listened to others talk about the old memories triggered by a reading or a discussion. This is part of the emotional labour of the job. Granted, for some students, it’s not issues of violence but rather issues related to coming out, finances, a bad break up, eating disorders, and many more. My degrees are not in mental health, so I know that it’s best if I listen and then make a referral. But here’s the thing: I never attended a professional development seminar about students and mental health until I was more than 10 years into my career. I am not qualified to help the students with the array of issues that they might have.
Emotional Labor in Academia: The Case of Professors by Marcia L. Bellas The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science January 1999 vol. 561 no. 1 96-110
abstract: Most professors divide their time between teaching, research, service, and, for some, administration. As in the nonacademic labor market, there is a gendered reward structure in academia. Teaching and service are most closely aligned with characteristics and behaviors culturally defined as feminine, and, in the aggregate, women spend more time in these activities than men. Teaching and service clearly involve substantial amounts of emotional labor, but this labor is generally not seen as involving valued skills and is conse quently poorly rewarded. In contrast, research and administration are associated with traits culturally defined as masculine, and, on average, men spend more time in these activities. Although research and administration also involve emotional labor, their emotional aspects are largely ignored, while intellectual, technical, or leadership skills are emphasized and highly compensated. Aside from differences in the propensity of women and men to engage in different activities and the gendered reward structure associated with these activities, even when the tasks are the same, the type and intensity of emotional labor required of the sexes may differ.