Thursday, June 12, 2008

‘Quiet Desperation’ of Academic Women

Well here's reason to feel depressed: In today's Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports that interviews with 80 female faculty members at a research university — the largest qualitative study of its kind — have found that many women in careers are deeply frustrated by a system that they believe undervalues their work and denies them opportunities for a balanced life. While the study found some overt discrimination in the form of harassment or explicitly sexist remarks, many of the concerns involved more subtle “deeply entrenched inequities.” These include: unintended bias and outdated attitudes, devaluing positions once women hold them, and service and gender.

Ok, ye academic women GWP readers out there. Does this describe you? And if so, what do you do?

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Catherine said...

The report is all true--particularly about the disproportionate service burden falling to women. There are just a lot of male faculty who get away with saying "no" quite a bit, being quite adept at the art of selective incompetence. I have one male colleague, for example, who "can't" use email, therefore I was tapped to do the kind of scut work he "couldn't" do. To make matters worse, another male colleague wanted to tell me how to do said scut work daily, though he "couldn't" do it himself. My response was that I "can't" take crap, so shut the heck up.

Deborah Siegel said...

GO CATHERINE! And jeesh.

Anonymous said...

Not really a surprise because it happens at the lower levels of education too.

For example, there used to be two vice principals per middle and high school, but once women began cracking the admin ranks the second VP job was downgraded to "dean of students" and invariably the first people to hold these positions were women. Women are expected to be dean before becoming a VP but men regularly jump straight to VP. To make it more insulting, the dean job was on the teacher pay level with a mere $2400 per year stipend despite the fact that the job's duties were identical to the VP's. Nice, eh?

Lots of other examples to of how male dominated jobs took pay cuts or were downgraded in importance or power once women began to regularly hold them.

The email thing? I can't believe anyone would even be allowed to get away with that. It reminds me of a girl I went to high school with who claimed she couldn't tie her own shoes (just never learned) so that she could ask boys to do it for her.