Locked In: Feminist Perspectives on Surviving on Academic Piecework

Helen Ramirez


While increasing media attention is given to examining the status of contract faculty on university campuses there is little note made of the pervasiveness of women in these positions. This paper, by drawing on Marxist and feminist theory ties the gender precarity faced by academic contract female workers to the historical practices of industries to use female labour to reduce labour costs. The textile piece worker system of the 19th century has found a 21st century form represented in the unlikely position of the female academic contract worker. The argument builds on the autoethnographic narratives of two contract women to demonstrate how the university administration’s “economic pressure” justification is an economic myth to occlude the exploitation of female workers.


Labour exploitation, Gender and Class oppresion, Capitalism,

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