I have been thinking a lot about how to deal with some...uninformed attitudes in my new dept. Thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation! As you can all see, from my recent victory, I have decided that I can't just shut up and wait for tenure. But I really do want to get tenure, which will require not pissing off all the senior faculty. So I really appreciate all the great advice on how to be "that woman" without being too aggressive. You guys rock! But if you want some real expert views on how to deal with -isms in the workplace, you have to go check out what Dawn has to say at Rooting Nonprofits. There is some real, expert advice in the two posts over there, including awesome, actionable tips on how to find allies and start getting the situation changed. If you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check it out.
Archive for: March, 2011
Several weeks ago I promised you all a surprise. Well, I am not one to let you hang (for too long). NO, I am NOT preggers, but I do have something new to show you. This is one of my favorite images in Biology. Whaddayathink?
Many of you stopped by to offer support when I was venting about some of the crap that I uncovered during our recent job search. THANKS to everyone! I have some exciting news on that front: a victory!!
Yesterday I was walking down the hall and I was stopped by a colleague, with whom I had several conversations about what should (or should not) be considered when choosing candidates. What he said was FANTASTIC. Here is a paraphrase:
"I was listening during our meeting the other day and I noticed that what you said was correct. Marital status only came up for the women candidates, even though the men are also married. That really pissed me off"
It's a start, right?
As you may know, my department is in the middle of a junior faculty search. I went through the search process as a candidate last year, but this year I'm sitting in the room on the other side of the process. It is...illuminating. The process has certainly made me see some of my new colleagues from a very different perspective.
First, the statistics: we had almost 600 applicants for our position. 30-50 were very, very good. We picked less than 1/4 of these to interview.
I noticed that there were several women that disclosed in their application that they were married to male scientists that would also be looking for a job. Many of these women were REALLY good. In fact, I would say that all of the men were the trailing spouses. We did not interview ANY of these women (or men). I would like to know who gave these applicants the HORRIBLE advice to disclose this info in the initial job packet. Negotiating a two-body issue is something that happens after a job offer has been made. Please, women of the sciences that aspire to the tenure track: DO NOT MENTION YOUR MARITAL STATUS IN YOUR COVER LETTER.
And now, a thing that really pisses me off: the extra scrutiny. I have noticed that the white d00ds that I work with have a habit of looking at certain candidates a little more closely than normally. Not in a good way. For instance, when women did not mention a 2-body problem, there was generally some discussion about whether we could "guess" if there was a second body. This was NEVER brought up for male candidates, though I assume that the men were just as likely to be married to another scientist. But the real kicker was that EVERY single non-white sounding name would lead my colleagues to reveal that they are assholes. People would wonder whether their English was "understandable". Yes, we do some teaching in our department. BUT SERIOUSLY, these are folks that have had a very successful postdoc. They wrote papers and gave talks at conferences. Many have been in the US since they were undergraduates. WTF?!
And then, there were a few instances of bad behavior that made me so mad that I wanted to throw something. I am not going to go into details with these, because I would like to maintain some level of pseudonymity. These events often involved ridiculous statements made directly to candidates. And this is when everyone was supposed to be on their best behavior!! I tried to "nudge" my more senior colleagues when I witnessed these incidents. I tried to explain why their "innocent" statements were offensive (in the most respectful way possible). On one occasion I was so horrified that I even went to the Chair to make sure he knew what was going on.
So, here is a question for my esteemed reader(s): as a junior faculty, should I just shut my trap and keep my head down? Or should I keep pointing out when things are fucked up, in the hopes that I will be able to "nudge" the d00ds to behave better?