A Defence of an Ethics of Care in Academia.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Ester CONESA CARPINTERO, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain
Changes in academic institutions under new managerial values and practices (Deem, 1998) have shifted the conditions under which academics work. Intensification of demands, pressures to achieve standard indicators in an international environment and competing for funding in austerity times are some of the features of this new regime. Some scholars have brought to the forefront of the debate the increasingly long hours culture and pressured and competitive working environments that harm academics well-being (Gill, 2009; Mountz et al., 2015).

This model remits to an academic ideal that has unlimited time and no other priorities than work (Bailyn, 2003) - what undermines the necessary time to care for oneself and others - and perpetuates the masculine breadwinner model. It is also focused in the image of the successful worker embodied in the academic “entrepreneurial self” that works under business models and self-maximization promoting individualism (Scharff, 2016; Morley, 2016; Müller, 2014).

This work studies how these changes have affected academics based in Spanish institutions under the ethics of care lens. The ethics of care places care in the centre of political life supporting ideas of interdependency, responsibility, equality and justice (Tronto, 1993). In this sense, it appears useful to study the competitiveness ethos and working-time regimes in the academic world. Working on semi-structured interviews, the results show when and how care (or a care culture) is denied or supported in current academic lives. The presence of a caring environment supports women (and all academics) careers and its absence penalises women and those men committed at the familiar and social level. Thus it stops the possibilities for gender equality in science. The paper finishes with a defence of an ethics of care (or a care culture) to be applied in academia as a clear advancement for equality and justice in organizations.