Archive | August, 2013

Teaching Naked, Part 2

29 Aug

Tenure, She Wrote

In my previous post, I recounted how a student interviewed me for the school paper regarding my decision to confront my class about being sexual harassed by one of my students on a mid-semester evaluation.  To give a little context for this post, my article was featured on the front page along with an article about a male faculty member (from the same college, and thus, the same dean) who was suing the university over sexual orientation discrimination and wrongful termination.  Neither my mentor nor the dean in this anecdote had authority over me; my bosses were in the provost office.

After the article was published, the dean of my college was clearly not happy I chose to share my experience publicly. 

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How two young journalists are highlighting longform journalism written by women [Poynter]

27 Aug

How two young journalists are highlighting longform journalism written by women [Poynter]

The Riveter has been a long time coming. After not one woman writer was nominated for a major writing category in the 2012 American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards, we had the idea of starting a magazine that would provide a platform in which women could actually publish the kind of work that would be considered for such a prestigious award.

We were both juniors at the University of Missouri at the time, but we brainstormed ideas throughout that spring semester before we left to study abroad. Then in March of this year, our university sponsored a panel of writers who were all featured in Mike Sager and Walt Harrington’s new book, “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.”

All of the writers on the panel were men and only three of the writers featured in the anthology were women. This did not go unnoticed by the women in the room and there was much discussion over the future of women in longform. Joanna and I decided that day that it was time to pick our project back up, and the following week we bought the domain name.


The Women of NASA

27 Aug

The Women of NASA

On June 18, 1983, a 32-year-old physicist from California shattered the gender barrier, becoming the first American woman in space aboard the shuttle Challenger. That brave lady was the late Sally Ride.

Since Ride’s historic flight, the face of the space program has undergone a literal transformation as it works toward narrowing the gender gap that persistently plagues the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. . . .

Over the last decade, the number of female supervisors has increased by 59 percent for a total of 30 percent women supervisors. The number of women aerospace engineers has made an even greater leap. Today, 20 percent of NASA engineers are female, which represents a 76 percent increase since the early ’90s.

Overall, about 6,000 of NASA’s 18,000 civil service employee workforce are now women, says Nagarja.

Here are some of their stories.

Teaching Naked, Part 1

26 Aug

Tenure, She Wrote

I had my students fill out mid-semester evaluations last fall.  No big deal, just answer these four questions: 1) What am I doing to help you learn? 2) What could I be doing better to help you learn? 3) What are you doing to help yourself learn? and 4) What could you be doing better to help yourself learn?  I had them turn the evaluations in anonymously to allow more genuine feedback.mid-semester evaluations

Later that afternoon, I started going through the responses. It was encouraging to see that, in general, responses to the first two questions indicated I was getting better, which was gratifying given the amount of time and energy I spent re-developing the class. For the most part, students were surprisingly honest when responding to questions 3 and 4, showing they understood their responsibility in their progress, or lack thereof. Somewhere towards the end of the ~160 evaluations, I…

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Field’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent reaches out to younger visitors

24 Aug

Field’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent reaches out to younger visitors

A profile of The Brain Scoop‘s Emily Graslie.


Men, women, and media empire-building []

22 Aug

Men, women, and media empire-building []

The narrative that these men are self-made media brands is some libertarian-bootstrapping bullshit. Each of these brothers didn’t build an independent empire. They were hired for staff jobs of increasing prominence by higher-ups (most of them, I’m going to wager a guess, also male) at established media organizations. . . .

Narratives matter. When publishers who are not super keyed into the internet read in The New York Times that there are these young men who are redefining media and building a dedicated online following, you can bet those young men become more attractive hires—and that they have more bargaining power. Theirs are the names that leap to mind. It’s like a sexist perpetual-motion machine. By the time we get to the advanced-empire stage of making demands and running spinoff sites, is it any wonder that women are conspicuously absent? [Ed. note: Well, not totally absent. They are often editing and assisting and doing the web producing for these men.]

I know this isn’t about something “in the academy,” but (to give an explanation that I suppose is somewhat belated):

A) Friedman writes regularly on career ladder issues that seem to me to be relevant to the tenure-track conversation (and related ones) in academia, and on other wide-reaching feminist concerns, and

B) I talked with Ambar once a little bit about construing the idea of “women as scholars” a little more broadly, as “women as experts.” And for me, at least, Friedman is one of those people whose expertise positively oozes from her writing even though it’s not carpet-bombed with academic jargon. (Also, as in this case, she often writes about expertise and the acquisition thereof.) I’ve never sat down to analyze it line by line or anything, and that sort of thing isn’t a particular strength of mine anyway. I just know that every time I read an Ann Friedman article I walk away feeling like I’ve learned something. Also,

C) It’s probably fair to assume that I just can’t let go of my student journalism roots. Where, incidentally, most of my editors (and also my illustrator, when I edited the opinion page) were women.

– Kris

Tenure-Track Uterus: My (mis)adventures with birth control

22 Aug

Tenure, She Wrote

This is a post about my uterus*. It is not a love letter.

This post is not for the squeamish, but I hope you read it anyway. This post won’t apply to some of you, but I hope you read it anyway. You may think this post is TMI — too much information. I disagree, and I hope you read it anyway. This post may have some of you thinking, “Why the hell is she writing a post about reproduction and birth control on a blog about women in academia?” Read on. 

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“…and thirty thousand different fish fossils!”

22 Aug

Emily Graslie and The Brain Scoop officially set up shop in The Field Museum in Chicago.

Graslie has said that The Brain Scoop is mostly targeted at high schoolers and younger undergrads, but even for older viewers, at least those of us who (like me) aren’t especially well versed in science, her enthusiasm for pretty much everything is pretty damn infectious.

Year 3

21 Aug

Hi everyone,

Kris here, as usual. Classes started back up at UNM this week so I figured I should dig back into WITA, too. We did a lot of good work last year, I think, mostly thanks to Ambar, but we also had a lot of false starts and unfinished projects. Since my plans to leave town for a PhD program changed in the middle of the summer, WITA’s not going anywhere, but it’s also probably going to look very different.

Instead of trying to do several flashy events throughout the year whose attendance numbers depend on juggling everybody’s schedules, it will probably be best for us to stick with just a few long-term-but-low-maintenance projects. We’ll try to get the mentoring list back off the ground, and try some new ways to regularly get original writing here on the blog. Also look forward to short yoga-for-grad-students videos.

We might still do a roundtable each semester, or at least in the spring for the big GRC conference, but no more of me promising that a million things are going to happen that I end up not following through on. I used to say a lot that I wish WITA was my day job, and I do still wish that, but it wasn’t, and isn’t, so last year I kept writing checks I couldn’t cash and putting WITA on the back burner so I could attend to this student government issue or that (or my thesis), and for what it’s worth I apologize.

So with that said, if you’d like to help out this year, here’s what you can do:

1) Ask a professor if she’d be interested in signing up for Mentor a Student (or sign up yourself, if you like). What we have in mind isn’t as formal as that might sound; it’s just a list of faculty who’d be okay with getting cold-emailed by students who want to talk to someone about what it’s like to be a woman in higher ed, maybe over coffee. If more formal mentoring relationships grow out of that, great, but we’re not asking for a commitment up front. If you signed up last year, you don’t have to fill out the form again.

2) Consider being a guest blogger on any topic at all relevant to our mission. One angle to pursue would be along the lines of Tenure, She Wrote. Another would be to just write about your research or area(s) of academic expertise/interest. Think of the Phenomena blogs for National Geographic, or the writing advice and pop culture criticism at io9 (the Gawker network’s science/futurism/speculative fiction blog), or the wide-ranging commentary Ann Friedman writes for The Cut, or even stuff like what Maria Popova does at Brain Pickings (although you probably won’t want to write at the same length she tends to). Alternatively, there’s always Tell Your Story.


So that’s what I have in mind to keep us going. The point of WITA was always to have women share their knowledge and wisdom, whether or not they were interested in more activist-y endeavors, and these seem like relatively simple ways to do that. And I’ll keep posting links that I hope are interesting.

Oh, important: contributors don’t have to be affiliated with UNM (mentors do, alas). So if you’ve got brilliant blogger friends, maybe ask if they’d like to do guest posts here. I may write more later about developing this guest writing project, but for now I’ll cut myself off. Happy first week of school (again)!


Field Prep: Protocol, Passport, & Baby ?

19 Aug

Tenure, She Wrote

In mid-2011, I learned that I had received a rather prestigious fellowship for field research. At the same time, my husband and I were in the midst of discussing when we should start a family. He is an academic too, and we were well aware of the old adage that “there is no good time to have a baby.” So we decided to start having the conversation. Considering his timeline and my tenure-track timeline, we decided that the summer of 2011 might be a good time to start trying to conceive.

Because you see, that it is the thing about being an academic woman on the tenure-track – you are constantly planning 3 or 4 concurrent major life and/or professional decisions. Big fellowship (check!), Baby (maybe?) Will we have trouble conceiving? Is this a good time to stop the tenure clock? What about finances? Can I delay the projects?…

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