I came very close to getting a tenure-track job this year, but ultimately I didn’t get it. It’s always incredibly frustrating and depressing to come so close to a TT job and then not get it, but this most recent time, I got an extra special kick of sorrow. You see, I’m not just someone stuck in an NTT position, I’m also a 31 year old woman. I’m a 31 year-old woman who wants a family. I want children. And I’m starting to notice, I’m running out of time.
The prospect of a TT job, for me, is the prospect of job security. It means the possibility of maternity leave — being able to get pregnant, have a baby, and recover, without having to give up my job for it. That’s not something I have, currently. I love philosophy, and I love this profession. I feel the motivation to keep suffering through the horrible job market, year after year, even if by the skin of my teeth, so I have a chance of contributing significantly to the world of professional philosophy. And yet, I grow increasingly worried that continuing to stay in this profession will come to imply the sacrifice of the chance to have children.
Importantly, as a student, not once did someone suggest that motherhood should be a larger priority for me than philosophy. This is most definitely a good thing. I feel quite lucky, to have avoided any such insulting, alienating comments as a student. It wouldn’t have done me any good: as a 21 year-old woman, I didn’t feel time-sensitive pressure to procreate. It is just now, as a 31 year-old, after having struggled and failed so often already to secure a permanent job, that I feel a deep anxiety growing.
And then there’s the fact that I am currently a sexually active 31 year-old woman. We use protection, but there is always the chance of failure. What would I do then, if I were to become pregnant accidentally? What could I do, with a much-wanted but unexpected pregnancy and without a permanent job from which I can take maternity leave? I don’t have the answers, and my anxiety grows deeper.