On the Status of Women

On that study of women faculty at UC Irvine, a friend at a SLAC says that the most important thing at her job is to be considered a good teacher. For that, she must be liked by other faculty, and for that, she must be traditionally feminine. For that, she cannot be research oriented.

That set of instructions, of course, if followed will mean she is not serious, and that she is not qualified as a teacher because she is not a productive researcher.


I am most aware of the inadequacy of the way we are treated at my institution when I am at conferences and interact with people who are not being psychically beaten up at work every day.

My friend says one of the reasons she is not in as much touch with friends and colleagues elsewhere as she might be is that she is embarrassed about the way she is treated and the way she has to spend her days. It is like not wanting to go out with a bruised face.

I tend to think I should explain myself – why it is I do not get out more, for instance. My friends do not ask for these explanations and I realize that the reason I feel compelled to give them is that I have to give so many exhausting explanations of routine matters at work.

Writing these things I realize that we both have abusive workplaces and have had for many years, and that this explains a great deal more than we realize – and that this explanation would liberate our energies if we would let it.


5 thoughts on “On the Status of Women

  1. Ha! I just accept that I won’t be liked. Or I am learning to. However it is imperative to remind myself to not expect human treatment in many situations. When you don’t get what you no longer expect, it is not so bad.

    In interestingly (as you know) I met some old school friends recently. One of them — who has always been quite feminine — insists resolutely that she has never encountered any cultural difficulties upon migrating to Canberra. My feeling is that she might have been insulated by her fluffy femininity from that. My feeling is that I have always had (although unbeknown to me) rather more masculine characteristics than a lot of women (although I am still inclined to insist that culturally we all did back then). Anyway, it is these characteristics, which do not go away, that make me a threat.

    By the way — one of the compensations for all this is IF you are considered evil. Evil, as we ought to know by now, is power.

  2. Thanks for the post. So true that to be liked (and respected) one must be traditionally feminine in academe and not ‘too feminist.’ Ugh. I also read an article some time ago in the journal Feminist Teacher that female prof’s get much better eval’s when they are considered traditionally attractive and fashionable. Guess what? The same is NOT true for male prof’s. In fact, being too ‘hot’ lowers their scholar cred…

  3. Machiavelli said, if you cannot be loved, then be feared. Wise words for women in positions of power.

  4. I deleted the rest of your comment, Lessons, because it made you look like too much of a jerk and I did not want that littering my blog. If you want to say those things perhaps you should say them in the thread on the IHE piece.

  5. I apologize if I have given offense… I may not have worded it well. My experience here is nonetheless that in the US it appears important to devote much energy to the *appearance* of all being positive and well, instead of the ability to leave things unsaid or to simply state them and leave them undiscussed. Am I jerk, or impatient? Maybe so. It was maybe too much hyperbole. Perhaps I have felt a little angry at not being allowed to be “not ok” and how that affects relationships here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s