Must Read C (of Higher) E

That fabulous group of women, the X-Gals, is back with the last of their installments in the Chronicle of Higher Education and it is truly Must Read C (of Higher) E.

This last installment is titled On the Origin of Academic Species and it is a cataloging of the various types of folks who've responded to their columns over the past year. Included, as might be expected, are The Generally Disgruntled, The Me-Too, The Condemning Wo/man, and The Dismissive Male. Of the latter, X-Gal Tess Isaac writes:

...when Jana described an adviser who told her to choose between work and family while her newborn struggled with a life-threatening condition, [The Dismissive Male] wrote, "I don't think many male scientists who had an advisee whose child was dying would ask them to choose between that and their research. Again, that is not representative. (Why would you select that person as your adviser?)"

to which the X-Gals reply

We acknowledge that Jana's experience with her adviser is atypical, but here is the crucial point: His colleagues knew about his actions yet he still went on to get tenure. At that point, the problem ceased to be between adviser and student, and became institutional. When Jana went looking for an adviser, should she have first asked him, "Oh, by the way, are you Voldemort?"

Ah, that kind of riposte makes Zuska's heart sing. Zuska loves the X-Gals. The X-Gals encourage you not to let any of the morons you will encounter get you down, and advise you to join with other women in small groups to encourage each other to ignore the moronocity of the idiots who try to hold you back.

It's good stuff, Zuskateers. Go forth and read.

More like this

In what manner to the X-gals suggest making it easier for women? More empathy? Special treatment? Taking a year off after the birth of the child? More time on the tenure clock? If we stipulate that the problem exists, lets talk about viable solutions.

Thank you for that. I stopped getting the Chronicle because, well, it depressed me. But perhaps that was a mistake. Reading that column... helped.

I guess I fall into their "Amen, Sister" category.

I recognize each of the types of people they describe. They are correct that the "Condeming Woman" is likely the most dangerous of the lot. For instance, if the Chronicle of Higher Education writes a feature article about how some female scientist was royally screwed over by the academic system, you can bet that at least one CW will be writing in to bitch about how the article makes the field "look bad", and that the incident the article describes is atypical. From my perspective, I know many CW's personally, and what is really scary is that pretty much every single one of them has been screwed over by the science academic system as egregiously as their non-condeming female peers. It seems like their attitudes of condemnation are some kind of protective response to their egos that keep them sane in a situation that would normally drive the average person insane (or, alternatively, it is a protective response that allows them to keep working in an abusive and discriminatory work environment that a normal person would have fled long before).

The problem is that the general public puts a lot of stock in what a CW has to say. After all, a CW is working in the field, and *everyone* knows that journalists always look for lurid stories and aim for biased reporting, right? From the perspective of the general public, the CW likely appears to be the voice of reason.

The last part of the article that talks about support groups for women scientists who are still in the field makes me a bit sad...I wish there were support groups for women who were forced to quit the field because of all the bullshit. Instead, almost universally such women fade off quietly into the sunset, never to be heard from again. Except for me of course, but a one woman support group isn't exactly effective. The recent long stretch of lack of comments on my blog entries describing what it is like to go through being pushed out of academia doesn't help to achieve a sunnier outlook on things either. When women are pushed out, literally noone appears to give a crap.

I am applying to the AAUW legal advocacy fund for case support next month, so maybe if they take my case I will then have the support group I have been sorely lacking. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Where can we have "none's" discussion? I've been frustrated over the constant refrain in the trajectories in the chronicle, which usually end with a woman "choosing" a non-tenure track post to accommodate the needs of her life and family (and the world as it is structured). Some women are happy with this choice, but others seem conflicted and unhappy, even those who did choose (within constraints), to for example ,turn down an opportunity, rather than being pushed out. But, I don't see any solutions (even non-easy ones) suggested.

"Women have achieved parity in the tenure-track in the humanities." Is that really true? If so, it might help us in finding solutions. What I've noted in the past is that women don't achieve parity in the highest rungs of any of the professions (10% corporate CEOs, 10% partners in Big law, 10% full professors in med school).

Each of those professions have different demands (for example, frequent mobility is not usually a requirement in Big Law, but long hours are).

My current view is that there are structural changes that need be wrought in the profession to accommodate high achieving women, but that the statistics won't change noticeably unless the structure of the family also changes.