No stress in academia?

Professor ranked as one of the least stressful jobs.

Inside Higher Ed has a report on an annual work survey which again names Professor as a low-stress job.

This year’s report ranks university professor the No. 4 least-stressful job, behind audiologist, hair stylist and jeweler. Seamstress/tailor, dietician, medical records technician, librarian, multimedia artist and drill press operator round out the top 10 least stressful jobs. The No. 1 most stressful job is enlisted member of the military, followed by military general. Unlike last year – when adjunct professors pointed out that uncertain employment and low per-course pay were particularly stressful aspects of their jobs – the ranking notes that it refers specifically to tenured professors.

stress-1

The 11 factors considered  for each of the 200 careers reviewed are as follows:

  • Travel (the more travel, the higher the stress)
  • Growth potential (dead-end jobs tend to create more stress)
  • Deadlines
  • Working in the public eye
  • Competitiveness within the organization
  • Physical demands
  • Environmental conditions
  • Own life at risk
  • Hazards encountered
  • Meeting the public
  • Life of another is at risk

Given the criteria used it is perhaps not that surprising a result. However, it does not feel remotely accurate or seem at all like the other “low-stress” jobs ranked with it. Whilst academia is a long way from the most stressful jobs in front-line military roles the ranking here doesn’t quite seem to capture the realities of what can be highly challenging work.

Advertisements

Title inflation

Too many chiefs

The Economist carries an interesting piece on the runaway inflation of job titles:

KIM JONG IL, the North Korean dictator, is not normally a trendsetter. But in one area he is clearly leading the pack: job-title inflation. Mr Kim has 1,200 official titles, including, roughly translated, guardian deity of the planet, ever-victorious general, lodestar of the 21st century, supreme commander at the forefront of the struggle against imperialism and the United States, eternal bosom of hot love and greatest man who ever lived.

When it comes to job titles, we live in an age of rampant inflation. Everybody you come across seems to be a chief or president of some variety. Title inflation is producing its own vocabulary: “uptitling” and “title-fluffing”. It is also producing technological aids. One website provides a simple formula: just take your job title, mix in a few grand words, such as “global”, “interface” and “customer”, and hey presto….Even so, chiefs are relatively rare compared with presidents and their various declensions (vice-, assistant-, etc). Almost everybody in banking from the receptionist upwards is a president of some sort. The number of members of LinkedIn, a professional network, with the title vice-president grew 426% faster than the membership of the site as a whole in 2005-09. The inflation rate for presidents was 312% and for chiefs a mere 275%.

America’s International Association of Administrative Professionals—formerly the National Secretaries Association—reports that it has more than 500 job-titles under its umbrella, ranging from front-office co-ordinator to electronic-document specialist. Paper boys are “media distribution officers”. Binmen are “recycling officers”. Lavatory cleaners are “sanitation consultants”. Sandwich-makers at Subway have the phrase “sandwich artist” emblazoned on their lapels. Even the normally linguistically pure French have got in on the act: cleaning ladies are becoming “techniciennes de surface” (surface technicians).

The same has happened in UK higher education over the years. Many universities now use the titles such as Assistant Professor and Associate Professor in place of Lecturer and Senior Lecturer. And in the administration whereas most titles used to be Administrative Assistant, Assistant Registrar, Senior Assistant Registrar or similar, these have now been replaced by a plethora of Officers and Executives and we seem to have more Directors than Hollywood. And many Registrars have now been retitled Chief Operating Officers. Where will it end?