Professor keeps her job in victory for active elderly
Wednesday 13 August 2008
Sheila Rowbotham was a pioneer of the feminist movement in the Seventies, but now the professor of sociology is leading a different kind of activism – for the active elderly who don't want to retire.
Professor Rowbotham was told earlier this year by Manchester University that her contract to teach at its social sciences school would be automatically terminated when she reaches 65.
The ruling coincided with the forced retirement at 65 of her colleague, the Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton, whose career at Manchester finished last month, and was part of the university's attempts to tackle a £30m budget deficit.
However, demonstrations by students, an outcry from academics around the world, and support generated through popular online forums, forced the university to reinstate Professor Rowbotham, who will continue to teach her course on the sociology of the counter culture. "I'm very pleased," she said. "I really thought nothing could be done."
Meanwhile, the university is to pay the novelist Martin Amis £80,000 for just 28 hours of teaching as it continues to shed hundreds of academic posts. Professor Eagleton had disagreed strongly with Amis's alleged extreme Islamophobia.
Professor Eagleton said that he plans to take his case to an industrial tribunal, claiming age discrimination.
The left-wing writer and journalist Tariq Ali described the decision to axe Professor Rowbotham, who he worked with for several years, as heralding "an epoch of production-line universities with celebrities paid fortunes... and genuine scholars dumped".
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