September 2, 2012 by badacademic2
In looking for blogs that deal with disability and academia, I came across this post. The poster asked if having a disability impacted job prospects.
I suffer from a long term chronic illness which means currently I cannot work full-time. I manage 75% of full-time hours working on my PhD currently, so while I am well enough to do research, I am not well enough to do as much as I’d like. I am concerned that, should my health not improve, this will prove problematic as I try to move from being a student to an employee. My academic output would likely be less than an able-bodied person in the same position. While it may be of the same quality, there would be less of it.
This is something I wonder as well. I mean, of course the answer is yes.
What are the job prospects like in general? Pretty bad. I mean there is a scarcity of tenure-track jobs and the continual adjunctification of higher-ed to start with. This individual’s post raises the question of accommodations when trying to get a job. Someone with a chronic illness or other physical disability that cannot do a full-course load seems to have limited options. The poster and those responding talk about how it might be hard to get a post-doc if someone does choose him– they will pay him 75% of the pay as someone else, and have 25% of the pay another non-disabled person would have gotten for doing 25% more “job”, which might be hard to use for something else.
I struggle with this idea. If someone who is not disabled can do job X at 100%, and someone who is disabled can do job X at 50%, should they be paid less? It does not seem reasonable. If the job is teaching, and a full course load is 2/2, but disabled person can only teach 1/1, yes they are doing “less” in teaching less courses, but they are still employed 100% of the time, no? Because of their disability, working full-time for that person means they can only teach 1/1, but it is still full time for them. This logic means that some disabled people will never be able to have a traditional “full-time” job, and will have to sustain themselves, their families, etc on a part-time salary.
It seems to me that if institutions like universities are truly committed to hiring “women, minorities, and those with disabilities,” as all job ads are now required, it seems, to include, that they would make adjustments. Because this individual poster, and others like him/her, are working full-time but being paid less because they cannot accomplish job tasks at the same rate.
It is very discouraging to think that in the already paltry academic job market, those with disabilities will need to prove they are a) qualified and get through all the hoops and randomness and then b) can they accept a job that requires 100% time without accommodations? Will there be half-time tenure track lines? If there are, it seems that then disabled person will need to accept half-pay. If the quality is the same, but the rate of output, in either teaching or producing publications, is different because of a disability, should that not be considered? Are academic jobs paying for quality or quantity? I’m depressed about this because I know the answer.
Yes, all these accommodations will cost the university more. Another half-line. Another post-doc. So what? If those with disabilities were valued and the women/person of color/disabled line in job ads really stood for something then there would be an effort to be inclusive. Instead of making these accommodations, those with disabilities that affect the rate of work are marginalized in, or excluded from, academia.