The emotional wellbeing of non-tenure track faculty

The Academe blog has an interesting post reporting on a new research paper which explores the emotional impact of the academic “caste system” that afflicts American higher education (and is present elsewhere in a less explicitly codified form). It seems like a quantitative and US-focused supplement to Ros Gill’s qualitative and UK-focused Breaking the Silence: The hidden injuries of neo-liberal academia. 

A recently released research article in the July issue of Frontiers in Psychology, authored by Gretchen M. Reevy and Grace Deason, finds that the very stigma of non-tenure track employment—now a reality for some 70% of higher education faculty members in the U.S.—brings with it an increase in stress, depression, and anxiety.

Appropriately titled “Predictors of depression, stress, and anxiety among non-tenure track faculty,” the article derides the widespread faculty “caste system” that separates contingent faculty from their tenure-track colleagues for leading to an increase in the emotional and psychological stressors experienced by non-tenure track faculty.

“Results indicate that NTT faculty perceive unique stressors at work that are related to their contingent positions,” the article stated. “Specific demographic characteristics and coping strategies, inability to find a permanent faculty position, and commitment to one’s organization predispose NTT faculty to perceive greater harm and more sources of stress in their workplaces. Demographic characteristics, lower income, inability to find a permanent faculty position, disengagement coping mechanisms (e.g., giving up, denial), and organizational commitment were associated with the potential for negative outcomes, particularly depression, anxiety, and stress.”

Categories: Higher Education

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