Slightly more than half of all contingent faculty are women, and women constitute the clear majority of contingent faculty in “feminized” fields in the humanities. Women of color are underrepresented in the faculty as a whole, but overrepresented in the contingent ranks. For us at New Faculty Majority, these statistics are reason enough to support the International Women’s Strike, in all of its forms.
Recognizing that the precariousness of adjunct and contingent faculty working conditions makes it risky for many women to participate, we encourage allies, especially tenured women allies, to stand up for their precarious colleagues and we encourage all to wear red in solidarity.
Red, we point out, is traditionally associated with the labor movement. It is also an apt color for adjunct and contingent faculty and especially for those who are women. The Scarlet A is an unofficial symbol of the feminization and the exploitation of adjunct and contingent faculty, those who are doing the work at the heart of the mission of higher education and who are sacrificing the most for their students and colleagues.
We encourage all of our colleagues and supporters to learn more about the working conditions of adjunct and contingent faculty and to work with us to demand and to work for equal pay for equal work, workplace dignity, and a re-dedication to the women faculty and students without whom colleges and universities would cease to function.