Archive for January, 2007

Gender inequity in the academy and the “mommy” track

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

I know, I know, it’s shocking that gender inequality would still be a topic for discussion… Not. People, especially young women and men believe (in the same way kids believe in Santa Claus) that there is no such thing as gender-based inequality or discrimintation – at least not in Western society. They assume that feminism is redundant, if not offensive, and that any woman daring to suggest all is not well on the gender parity front is simply a whiner, a man-hater or an attention seeker.

But as this Canadian Press article shows, gender inequality is alive and well in the hallowed halls of the academy, that bastion of patriarchy and hierarchy. Women profs receive less pay than their male colleagues (of the same rank) – or $6000 less for full professor. They also achieve full professorship – the highest rank – much less frequently, making up a mere 19% of Canada’s full professors.

While the Statistics Canada report on which the article is based shows “improvement” for women profs, this must not be taken as a job well done. It is utterly pathetic that since 1990, the percentage of women appointed to full professor (e.g. new appointments) has risen two percent. Two percent!! From 12 to 14. Pathetic.

The article notes that women account for the majority of students at the post-secondary level (undergrad and grad) – have done so since 1988. So why the disconnect between learning and teaching, between the classroom and the professoriate? If universities are graduating more women, it might be logical to think that they end up on the other side of the lectern, if not in equal numbers to men (gender-based discrimination and inequality being systemic and all), then at least in greaters numbers than currently.

One main reason for this, I’d hazard to suggest, is mothering. The article only touches upon this: “Climbing the academic ladder is supposed to be merit-driven, generally based on an evaluation of factors such as a candidate’s track record of research, publication and teaching.”

But, it continues, many women step off the tenure track for the “mommy track”. Funny, I don’t see this phenomenon affecting male profs. Yet their prospects for bearing progeny don’t seem to be affected. Hmmm! Men can have long successful academic careers, research, write and publish their way to a tenured position, and still have families!! Amazing! How is that possible?

It’s possible because women step aside, step down and forsake that career success to have the children. And the academy makes little to no accomodation for this handicap. And I say handicap in the best of ways – I have children. They’re amazing, lovely creatures with no equal in my heart. But they don’t factor in to the academy’s calculus for success. And that isn’t right. Not when the male profs are benefitting from this unequal situation.

This is why feminism can’t be dead.

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New year, same old

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

It’s been awhile since I’ve written; I felt the guilt, but not enough to motivate me. I wasn’t working – took almost 2 weeks off, and thus had nothing to write. But I got back to it this week, bright and early in the new year – January 2. All week I’ve been working on revising a paper I wrote for class into a journal article for Tailoring Biotechnologies. One of the eds saw my work posted on Indymedia, and inquired about it. As it hasn’t been published, they were pleased, and sent some editorial revisions. I’ve been struggling with these all week. You know how different people get different things from the same thing – an academic journal article, for example. So it feels, in some instances anyhow, that perhaps what I intended was not at all what the reader got out of it. We’ll see. Revising a paper is more of a challenge than writing from scratch. It’s a task I do not enjoy, but I’m almost finished, so it’ll be their problem, at least till they send it back!

On another note, I’m exasperated and annoyed at the blog spam I’ve been receiving. Every day. I feel personally affronted, though I know I should not and all I can think is, what losers. Unsurprisingly, this spam falls into 3 categories: 1. Porn; 2. Penis enlargement; 3. Fake winning money, in that order. It is beyond irritating. I have to do something, but I’m thinking of migrating this blog (unpredictable server plus no tech support), so I won’t do anything here.

Back in the day, when I was say 8 or 9, SPAM represented a new sort of consumer food, along the lines of TV dinners. It represented all that was good about being modern: the convenience, the scientific advance (you could *do* that with meat?), and to my young mind, the disposable income (in our lowever-middle class home, nothing was pret-a-porter, it was all “from scratch”, handmade, reused, and so, of course, all the less desirable). I would see it at my friend Karen’s house, in the pantry, and regard it with awe, and some envy, I admit. Never mind it tasted like shit, or cat food. Never mind it was a military food and that food, as we all know, beats out only hospital and airline food. But that wasn’t the point, now, was it?