I do not know one person with a PhD who is a quitter. That is why, despite the ring to it, “quit lit” is such a bad descriptor of the burgeoning genre of articles written by academics leaving the profession. It has a strong whiff of voluntarism about it, placing the responsibility of the “decision” to leave squarely with those doing the leaving. People are leaving academia not because they are quitters but because the system is broken. Their stories are more than just plaintive shouts into the wind: they are reminders and invitations. If we must coin a rhyming new genre, let’s call it exit lit.

    The reminder is that the current system is not working for everyone – and not just early career researchers: even senior academics are “choosing” to leave academia. And when the system isn’t working for everyone, it is working for no one.

    But, personally, I am not sure if I have another 20 years of dreaming left in me, even if I get that permanent academic job I always wished for. I am not sure if I am resilient enough – or resilient in the right way. I am not sure if I can take the financial, professional and emotional strain of being the change I want to see, in the face of all the pressures on me to be the status quo – or to leave.


birchbarkcanoe:

I'm a bright-eyed bushy-tailed undergrad about to start the PhD program application process, and I ask myself more and more often if the system is too broken to even be worth a shot. I alternate between "it's different in science because the degree is still useful outside academia" and "My dream is looking like an awful, awful decision."

    We are more than cogs in a machine: together, we are the machine. It matters how we treat each other. It matters which journals and publishers we choose to publish our ideas with. It matters which conferences we choose to attend. It matters who we collaborate and constitute panels with. And it matters how we talk about our working practices. Being overloaded is not a badge of honour

The problem that I see related to this is that some academics (read: the old tenured dudes who can do whatever they want) don't really see the problems in the system because that very system has led them to a comfortable success. They're blind to the burnouts and the crazy job market etc. She does mention, however:

    ... the current system is not working for everyone – and not just early career researchers: even senior academics are “choosing” to leave academia. And when the system isn’t working for everyone, it is working for no one.

and I don't know if I find that more alarming or what.


posted 194 days ago