This paper presents the initial findings of a survey of geographers working on fixed-term or other temporary contracts (FTCs), with particular reference to their characteristics, achievements and employment conditions. The results suggest that job satisfaction among contract geographers is related to career stage, and that structural features of the academic labour market combine to restrict many highly qualified academic staff to FTCs for longer than may be appropriate. This phenomenon is highly gendered, with women over-represented among the more junior ranks of contract staff and men dominating the senior ranks. Prolonged employment on FTCs can result in negative effects on the health, welfare and personal finances of many contract staff, and also on staff morale and productivity. The paper concludes that underlying structural inequalities in the academic labour market need to be addressed.