I am failing.
OK, it’s probably not that dire, but that’s how I feel many, many days this semester. I thought it was all going so well, and in so many ways, it is. I have a ‘lab’ now, with people in it ranging from undergrad to postdocs. I have settled into my job, and the class I’m teaching this semester is going fairly well. Two papers will be submitted by the end of the month, and I continue to love my job. Most of the time.
However, I’m totally flailing with all of the extra parts of work, and I’m not sure how to fix it. For the first time since I started in academia, I feel like I’m dropping balls. Nope, I AM dropping balls. And my own personal giveaway for pent-up stress has returned (for me, episodes of TMJ). Luckily, I have a very physical reminder that I need to take care of myself, and am good about heeding those reminders. But these small things—stress, bad habits, unhealthy ways of coping—have a tendency to build up and become canalized, so I need to address the root of the problem.
A TSW reader recently suggested a post on what the day-to-day job of a professor looks like, and this post can partly address that, at least for a public research university. So what do I have on my plate that is causing me to feel like a failure? Continue reading
I am something you don’t read about very often… part-time, adjunct faculty… and happy. This is not the career I had in mind when I started my PhD program; the only career goal I’ve ever had was to be a scientist and professor. But as I neared the end of my program, I realized that my dream job might not be compatible with my overall dream life.
I started my PhD program single, childless and ambitious, ready to throw myself over to the process and lovestruck with the culture of ecology. I followed every piece of advice. I applied for grants, was awarded a fellowship, published, and by all accounts was poised to “make it” – post-doc then tenure-track job. But a few years can change a lot, and other priorities began to creep in. Continue reading
To academics, the term “service” covers a variety of activities, from reviewing papers, to serving on committees, to doing public outreach. Really, service is anything that doesn’t fall under the categories of teaching and research. While service is part of our job descriptions and for some of us is even factored into our workloads, the old saying “no one ever gets tenure for doing service” is still, unquestionably true. It’s also true that women and minorities often shoulder a disproportionate service load relative to white, male colleagues.
So given that we as women in academia are going to get asked to do service, and that the time and energy we spend doing service is going to detract from what we can accomplish on the research and teaching fronts, it behooves us to be strategic in our service choices. Continue reading
Whenever I brought up the possibility of dropping to half-time, my advisor shrugged and said something like “you’re still moving forward” or “you’re doing ok.”
But I wasn’t doing ok. I was too sick to work most days and my progress could only generously be called incremental. It was by no means satisfactory. As my program deadlines loomed, I became more and more concerned, but friends, colleagues, and my advisor just tried to be encouraging.
My advisor and committee wanted to know what they could do to help, but I couldn’t think of anything more they could do for me. So I went to my university’s disability services, explained the situation, and asked what kind of accommodations they could offer me. With little preamble, the disability advisor told to take a medical leave. Continue reading
One of my clearest memories from middle school is the time that my class made our teacher break down and sob on her desk. She was a new teacher who seemed passionate and kind, and the increasingly vocal disrespect and general meanness from the class culminated in her total loss of control of the classroom and herself. The principal came in and give us a severe talking to, but we never regained respect for our teacher.
Part way through my second semester I’m thinking a lot about how I can improve as a teacher. As I’ve mentioned, my research-focused training didn’t prepare me for a teaching-focused career. One thing that I’ve come to realize is that I don’t have complete control of my classrooms. Continue reading
It may come as a surprise to some that, despite my fierce attitudes about feminism, I’ve actually had a comparatively easy time when it comes to overt sexism. While I grew up working class, I’ve always had people around who told me I could do anything I wanted to. Despite some major setbacks (a topic for another day), I made it to a really excellent graduate program, and I had a fantastic, supportive (male) mentor. Graduate school was difficult, and I struggled with my share of anxiety and depression, but I can honestly say that I never felt dehumanized, belittled, or objectified by my colleagues, students, or superiors. The worst I’ve had to deal with are the occasional arm squeeze, people who call me “Mrs.” instead of “Dr.,” or a meeting organizer who asked me to take notes and get coffee. In other words, micro-aggressions. I’ve had colleagues and close friends who have experienced much worse.
Setting aside how messed up it is that I’m considering myself fortunate that I’ve “only” experienced institutional sexism, for the most part (at least, in a professional setting), I wanted to focus on what, for me, has been the hardest part of being a woman academic. I want to preface this by saying that I love my job — even when it’s hard. I didn’t want to sit down this morning and write another post about how it’s difficult being a woman in science, because there are already too many of those these days (not because people shouldn’t write them, but because people shouldn’t have to write them).
So, what’s the hardest part, for me? Isolation. Continue reading
Good morning, dear readers.
My name is dualitea. Although I come to you today excited to have joined the Tenure, She Wrote Team, and am enjoying a nice warm cup of tea while the snow continues to pile up outside, I have a heavy weight on my mind.
Back in November, I attended my university’s recognition of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It is the only day where people the world over recognize people like me. It is a somber day, set aside to remember and honor trans people who had been murdered over the past year, the majority of whom are trans women of color. Continue reading