Why did you decide to become an academic?
I had been working as a paralegal in DC, thinking—like many young people in the 1970s—that law school was the route to a career dedicated to furthering social change. Instead, I found the legal world narrow, the hours punishing, and the fight for social change apparently located elsewhere. Sociology graduate school at the University of Michigan offered the remarkable opportunity to learn and to reflect on the social issues I’d always cared about, and doing it with like-minded comrades was an added luxury. I was fortunate to land a job here at FSU, where I have felt the same satisfaction in working alongside people who care about the issues I do.
What do you find most fulfilling about your job?
Teaching, research, and service have equally fulfilling. In my research I have tried to contribute to the fight for workplace fairness, and in my undergraduate family-history course I have tried to help students understand how such natural-seeming institutions are, in fact, created and thus capable of further development. I also have garnered a great deal of satisfaction working to improve my Department, College, and University. What these endeavors share is the gratification of working with other people—coauthors, students, and colleagues.
What are you working on or teaching right now that has you excited professionally?
In recent years, my work with the faculty union has been most exciting. Being Co-chief Negotiator has given me the chance to work with fellow faculty to improve the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Among other gains, we created promotion pathways for Specialized Faculty, paid parental leave, and a much-improved Layoffs article. To work towards concrete improvements in faculty members’ working conditions is very satisfying, as is knowing that 100% of my Sociology colleagues have chosen to be union members. These things call to mind my early dream of working with others to create a better world.
Please let us know if there is something that you would like us to share with blog readers (picture, publication, website, favorite book).
Of the articles I’ve written, this recent one, about the work-family narrative and the 24/7 work culture, is my favorite: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0001839219832310
Source for featured image: https://coss.fsu.edu/sociology/faculty/irene-padavic/