Collaborations, Slurs, and Being Heard

TW: Discussion of homophobic slurs

There have been plenty of times in life when I’ve had men assume that I don’t know what I’m doing or saying, and treat me accordingly. I’m mostly used to it when I go to a car shop to pick up oil, but have recently had it happen in one of the most egregious manners I’ve ever experienced within academia. Continue reading

Do I trust my gut?

Earlier in the year, I had the opportunity to do some amazing fieldwork in a remote, logistically difficult field site. This opportunity was essentially dropped in my lap, by affiliation with the research center I work in. I was thrilled — this would open new doors, and potentially set up a life’s worth of work. Our outside contact sent some emails introducing himself, and said he was excited to have me on board. We started chatting about an in-person meeting at my campus, since there are a few of us who would be participating in this field expedition. The big obstacle would be getting funding, which the director of my center was confident I could do, because of my early-career status (with his guidance; he has a very successful funding rate). Everything looked perfect.

And then things started getting weird. Continue reading

#YesAllWomen: Violence against women on campus, and what we* can do about it

My route to work takes me along a line of sorority and fraternity houses. Usually, I don’t think much about them, but this week was different. This week, I saw the sorority houses as citadels. I found myself subconsciously assessing their ability to keep out an armed attacker.

As I passed the fraternity houses, I wondered about the young men inside. I’ve become acutely aware of the men on campus, just as I am every time there’s a new high-profile story about violence against women in the media. On the best of days, I’m constantly aware of my surroundings, almost as though I had an assault-prevention algorithm running in the back of my mind. This is because of my experiences, and I am not unusual in that way. On the worst of days, I find myself wondering if the men I see can be trusted, if they find my feminism quaint or offensive, if they have raped or would rape, knowingly or unknowingly, or how they would react if I were to tell them NO.

Elliot Roger had planned to kill more women at a UCSB sorority, but they didn’t open the door. In Nigeria, nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from school by an organization that doesn’t believe that women should be educated. These incidents, worlds apart in terms of circumstance, are intrinsically linked in my mind not only because they are contemporaneous, but because I am a university professor and these crimes were committed against students, on academic campuses. Violence against women on campuses aren’t new; these are just the latest in a long string of events that remind us that, for many women, getting an education is dangerous; even deadly. Continue reading

Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic

There is a plethora of research on the causes of hostile environments for women in academia, and on why we have an underrepresentation of women in many fields. There are support groups for women, societies entirely devoted to women academics (broadly and field-specific), workshops for women in academia, and countless articles and blogs devoted to the topic.

These initiatives are important, but here’s the thing: gender equality has to be a collaborative venture. If men make up the majority of many departments, editorial boards, search committees, labs and conferences, then men have to be allies in the broader cause of equality, simply because they have more boots on the ground. And, as much as I wish it weren’t so, guys often tend to listen more readily to their fellow guys when it comes to issues like sexism. I’ve also found that there are a lot of guys out there that are supportive, but don’t realize that many of their everyday actions (big and small) perpetuate inequality. So, guys, this post is for you.* Continue reading