Archive | November, 2013

Femininity as a technology: some thoughts on hyperemployment [Cyborgology]

29 Nov

Femininity as a technology: some thoughts on hyperemployment [Cyborgology]

Indeed, as Bogost’s example suggests, our smartphones wake us up, not our moms, just as emails accomplish a lot of the relational work (scheduling, reminding, checking in, etc.) conventionally performed by women.

Women are trained from a young age to perform this relational, caregiving, extra-shift work.Femininity–the gender ideal and norm–is the technology that helps women perform these tasks with ease and efficiency. Conforming to feminine ideals like cuteness, neatness, cleanliness, attention to (self)presentation, receptivity to others, and so on, trains you in the skills you need to accomplish feminized care/second+ shift work.


Cultivating a Confident STEM Girl

25 Nov

5 Brainy Birds

post by Synapse-


Innate biases.  Confidence issues.  Concern about being “smart”…. and pretty much everything that could happen during those teenage years.

Let’s just say, I’m a bit nervous about having a baby girl.

Yes, yes, I know.  She already has a head start given that her mother is the example of “scientist” in the parental unit.

But what I can control and what I can’t control is already a frustrating consideration.  This tiny stranger is going to be born in the next few days and my biggest concern revolves around her confidence as a woman.  It seems crazy but I have this overwhelming concern that I need to get off on the right foot – what if confidence issues begin the moment a baby is born with girl parts and dressed in pink?

As a new not-yet parent, my theory has always been that a link exists between…

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The offer refused

25 Nov

“Academia is shockingly backwards when it comes to maternity leave for instructional staff. It seems like you either teach your full load, or maybe a reduced load without actually taking any leave, or you take the semester off with no pay, and possibly no insurance (e.g. see here, here, and here). Um, that might work if you have a spouse that carries insurance and makes a decent income, but what about those of us women who are the major/sole breadwinners??”

Tenure, She Wrote

Recently, I applied for my first academic job at a small state university.  The description for the tenure-track position fit my skill set perfectly.  I have to admit, though, the thought of working for a small university close in proximity and within the same state system as my previous (and very negative, see for example here, here, and here) pre-doc teaching experience gave me reservation in even applying.  In addition, I don’t have any chapters written yet for my dissertation and it likely won’t be finished until this summer, so it is slightly premature to be on the job market. However, a former colleague encouraged me to apply so I did despite my reservations.

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Supporting Other Women in Science

22 Nov

Tenure, She Wrote

One of my main motivations for writing here on Tenure She Wrote is to be an active part of the community of women in science, and because of that, I have been thinking a lot lately about how we can support other women in our scientific communities. There is a lot of discussion about that sort of vertical support, via mentoring, hiring, and outreach, but what about more lateral support for our colleagues in our department, our institution, and our broader fields?

There are, of course, the big things that we talk about including paying attention to the diversity of seminar and conference speaker lists; checking (and rechecking) for unconcsious bias in reviewing job candidates and in promotion decisions. But today I want to focus on those seemingly smaller things that can really make a difference to how connected and supported people feel.

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Guest Post: What happens when trivial sexism is ignored?

14 Nov

Tenure, She Wrote

Today’s post is by a guest author, graduate student SquirrellyRed. She shares a recent experience about what happens when small acts of (benevolent) sexism add up to create a broader culture of hostility towards women.

Given Acclimatrix’s recent post on how gender equality needs to be a collaborative venture in academia, I thought it’d be helpful to share a story about what could – and in this case, did – happen when some of those points that seem trivial or harmless (especially #2) are ignored – and how the effects are amplified the further down the academic totem pole you travel.

As a PhD student in a mid-size biology lab at a large Midwestern R1 university, my group includes a team of undergraduate research technicians that I help supervise. In my lab’s case, all of the undergrad helpers are female students in biology related majors (woohoo!). They are…

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I’m your professor, not your therapist!

11 Nov

Tenure, She Wrote

One of the things that I’ve found I’m completely unprepared for as a new teacher and academic advisor is the level of emotion the students bring with them to talk with me.  I’m just not a public crier, so it always startles me when someone lets the waterworks go during what seems to me to be a relatively benign conversation.  Not that I never empty a box of Kleenex while watching a tearjerker with a group of friends, or think that crying in front of others makes you weak – it’s just not me. This has left me at a loss for what to do when someone breaks down in my office.  Politely ignore?  Offer Kleenex?  Ask details?  I should have paid better attention when friends talked about their experiences being the crier or the cryee! 

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Creating a lab culture

8 Nov

Tenure, She Wrote

I think I can now legitimately claim that I have a “lab”: I welcomed my first graduate student this fall, I have an ambitious undergraduate working in my lab, and will soon welcome a postdoc. I have been contacted by several new prospective students, and am thinking about how each of them might fit into the lab. Consequently, I’ve been thinking a lot this semester about the inaugural post by Acclimatrix on what kind of mentor I want to be, and what my own strengths and weaknesses as a mentor are. I have a good idea about what works for my own personal and professional development, but how do I ensure that my students are successful and happy as they progress through their careers? I realize that not all of that is up to me, but I want to at least provide the appropriate conditions for my students to…

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Guest Post: What I did on my furlough “vacation.”

1 Nov

Tenure, She Wrote

Today’s post is a little different. We’re featuring a guest contribution from microbiologist Laura Williams, who was impacted by the recent government shutdown. You can follow her at @MicroWavesSci. Enjoy!

On October 1, I was furloughed from my position as a postdoc at a federal agency because of the government shutdown. This agency will remain nameless because I am not supposed to talk about the furlough, the government shutdown or the ridiculous mess in Congress in any official capacity. So, nameless it will remain. After a little over two weeks of ridiculous Congressional theatrics, a deal was struck, and I returned to work along with 800,000 other federal employees.

My unexpected furlough “vacation” prompted me to think a lot about what it means to be a scientist.

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