I was a tenured “gen-x” professor at the older end of the spectrum (born 1967). I put in the long hours to get tenure, I neglected having a life to do so, and there was a lot of pressure from my university to continue “not having a life” indefinitely. The tenure gold proved to be gold-plated and incompatible with having a partner and a family. That is why I left academics. I make more money now then I did as a scholar, I have said partner and family, and my life is much better. I even still publish in academic journals, but now I do it for me, not to put a line on the c.v. for a tenure committee...much more satisfying that way. Supply-and-demand means there are more Ph.Ds than academic jobs, but as life in the academy gets more and more intolerable, let us hope grad students and Ph.Ds wake up and realize life outside the ivory tower can be a lot nicer than within it. I also hope the Gen-Xers make some changes in the academy to ensure its health and vitality.Comments like these remind me of my plan to teach at a small liberal arts college, where I could teach composition and novels that I like, awesomely travel to Europe with 10-20 undergrads and some professor pals to drink in Paris and Milan, and generally eschew research anxieties.
Comment for current grad students
I read the following here, in an article about "Generation X" professors wading through an academic system still based on 1955-ish models for what it means to be a professor: