Inclusion versus exclusion

Following on the post just before this one:

I would love to hear your story about feeling excluded in an academic or work context.  It’s pretty certain that others would too.

Let’s stick to cases whether gender/race/disability can be said plausibly to play a role.  And let’s also recognize the   positive.  Have you had some vivid case of feeling very included, against your expectation or perhaps in contrast to your being a member of an under-represented group.  Or perhaps you are a member of the dominant group, but you were suddenly invited to see things from a very different point of view.

If your story doesn’t make it clear, you might give us some idea of “your position.”  Are you a student?  The youngest person in the office?  Or someone further along who has become invisible.  Or suddenly revealed as visible and important after all?  These anecdotes might get repeated at least in discussions in academia, so please let us know if the context is academic or not.  Don’t feel you have to identify the field.  Anonymity might be quite important if you plan to spill some beans.  It will be respected.

13 thoughts on “Inclusion versus exclusion

  1. Some readers might have noticed that an earlier comment is now missing. I put up the earlier comment in the hope that it might encourage others, but then I got to worrying that it might have the opposite effect. And took it down.

    So readers, please, let’s end the cycle of jj’s comments going up and coming down. Share your own experience!

  2. When I was doing my first field placement during my Bachelor of Social Work (in Australia) I was a sole parent with little to no support networks. My son was 4 years old. My only family support (my father) worked full time (as did I but I had to take time off work for the unpaid placement). I had to go on welfare while I did the placement so we had some income (3 month long placement). Two weeks into my placement my son became ill. I had no one to look after him so I had to take time off placement. He was ill on an off for several weeks (hospital ill) and my attendance at placement was sporadic. I was also incredibly stressed about my son, our drop in income while I was on placement and the placement itself. At my first liaison visit (when a university staff member would meet with my field supervisor and myself) I was told that I could not miss another day during placement (under any circumstances) or I would fail the placement. The liaison visitor knew exactly why had missed time but that didn’t matter. She said it was university policy. I argued the point saying the uni made a big deal of saying it supported women, distance education students and rural students (I was all three) and yet here they were being less than supportive in my opinion. Again, no dice. They did not care. I ended up quitting my placement. There was no way I could guarantee I wasn’t going to miss another day, my son was my priority and he always came first. I failed the unit
    I went on to redo it a year or two later and eventually finished my degree. No thanks to the university though.

  3. I’m a postgraduate with a small child. My peers stay up all night reading, spend all weekend, work thru the summer without a holiday, etc. I obviously don’t have this sort of flexibility with my time. Even though my progress in terms of writing is as good as or better than every other student in my year, and my supervisor says that the work I’ve done is good, I can’t, for example, come in today to discuss the reading you suggested yesterday. If I have meetings all day today, I can’t make progress on my own writing; etc. My single male supervisor doesn’t understand why I ‘don’t get the work done’. (Again, I exceed the expected progress for this point in my degree, and I’m ahead of many of my peers.) I can’t play little monastic scholar; I am a human being with a life and with other priorities and obligations in addition to philosophy.

    When I had to go on leave because of lack of childcare, my supervisor first suggested that I might want to think of a “medical” reason for going on leave, as lack of childcare wasn’t a “legitimate” reason. It is legitimate according to uni policy, thankfully, and a female member of staff in my department was kind enough to explain this to him. (I was told by this staff member, as well, that UK anti-discrimination law also requires consideration for carers. poor bri was super-screwed by happening to be in the wrong country. kudos to you for getting through the degree despite it all, bri!)

    But I think the real difficulty I have is one of breathing space. It feels like it’s a miracle if I’m even sort of taken seriously as a PhD student–by my supervisor, my peers, other staff–so I don’t feel like I have any room at all to make mistakes, nor any room at all to question anything my supervisor says. I’m already the dreaded “nontraditional student”; if I start saying “no, I don’t think that’s the best use of my time”, well then it’s just further proof I’m not a serious student, isn’t it? It’s just more “excuses”. Why should they waste energy on a student who obviously isn’t going to have a real career?

  4. bri and jane doe: it remains shocking to see that many people seem convinced of some natural incompatibility of having a child and staying at university.

  5. i have a number of female friends who direct high-school and or jr. high band programs in a midwestern state. in the region of the state where my friends tend to work (b/c this is where we all went to college), apparently it is currently common practice for band directors to socialize and network at strip clubs.

    guess how many large, successful, well-funded high school band programs in this region are led by women? (the one woman i know in such a position is transitioning to another area of secondary ed).

    i’ve been silenced for bringing up race and gender issues at philosophy events before, but at least these events weren’t held in strip clubs.

    …perhaps not unrelatedly, it is by aestheticians that i have been most frequently silenced/disregarded when i bring up gender and race…

  6. doctaj, I am truly shocked. Those clean living band directors? Ew. Ew. Ew. (To quote elp.)

    And of course, race and gender are out of place in discussing art? One despairs of the discipline.

  7. Just last week I was in a meeting with my prof and another prof who got a contract for an edited volume with one of those prestigious big publishers. I am in to help with the editorial stuff (you know, kindly nagging the authors that agreed to write a chapter, getting the formatting right, stuff like that). I got the book proposal just before the meeting, it’s going to be a substantial volume, 25 chapters or so.
    And the gentlemen started off the meeting with ticking off whom of the authors was in, who declined etc, and I said, can I make a teensy remark about this list of authors? Sure I could.
    I said they are are all… remarkably male.
    A brief silence. My prof said hmm, you’re right, we definitely need to do something about that. He means that, really: he is the kind of person that just sees ambulant possibilities rather than gendered and more or less aged, either or not pretty people.
    However, the rest of the meeting contained quite some jibes by the other guy about gender issues. I believe it was in good nature, but it nagged me.
    I am glad I spoke up though. It is not as if there are no women philosophers that are big names in this field. As a matter of fact, if you google the issue, a woman appears on top of the list.
    I wonder if I should go as far as to refuse to help out if they don’t get a few women on board. Hmm.
    But I am in a dependent situation, I am just on temporary contracts, whilst getting a degree in philosophy in the evening hours, and hoping to secure a PhD position in the course of this year, for which I have to somehow arrange the funds. I need those people.

    It is quite sad that the person at the big publishing company that provided the contract didn’t remark on the imbalance of the gender of the authors, and she is a woman.

  8. hippocampa, serious kudos to you for raising the issue. I seriously doubt that you can have more of an impact, so I’d discourage the idea of your taking any further stand.

    I agree that it is sad that BIG publishers don’t seem to care. If people send us such names by clicking on “contact” in the categories, perhaps we can write a little article. And perhaps send them notice.

  9. I received my PhD but didn’t “hit the market” to search for a job, although I had extensive teaching experience, including teaching graduate students, and a great publishing record.

    After a grueling process to get my degree, at graduation time I had a 1 year old that was still nursing, and a 4 year old. It was difficult enough to get my degree done, and required a lot of sacrifices. I wanted to be with my children more but had to spend all my time working on my PhD. I was relieved to finally have my degree, and was thrilled to be able to finally enjoy my children as I wished.

    Where I live there isn’t any good day care that I know of. “Nannies” are the only option. They aren’t educated true nannies, but instead are those who cannot get better paying jobs at traditional establishments. Furthermore there is no busing to the local schools, so a caregiver that is able to drive on rainy or snowy days is a necessity. I have found that it barely makes sense to get a job financially. The very unfortunate reality is that even if I received the highest pay that I’ve seen advertised for a tenure track assistant prof job, $69k, I would barely make any profit after having to pay a “nanny.” (By the way, I live in an area where the cost of living, housing, nursery school tuition, etc. is extremely high.) Furthermore I would need not only a daytime “nanny” but evening care as well, because my spouse travels occasionally for work, and teaching my evening classes, and completing my prep work and grading could not come to a halt when the spouse is away.

    More importantly, when considering a particular job, I came to understand how great the late afternoon and evening time commitment would be at this and most other jobs. I would have to teach probably two night classes each semester. The bottom line is that I’d need to be away at work, or working at home grading/prepping, during most of the time that my children would be around.

    This only becomes more true over time as the children get older. As they get older, their day ends later and later, and the only family time is in the evening, say after 6pm, when the children’s activities are done.

    I am wishing for a (non-existent) half time tenure track position. This would be a good thing for me. Although it probably would not cover my expenses for childcare, I would be willing to take the loss in the hopes that later on I’d have a suitable full time position.

  10. I am sorry to report the following exclusionary attitudes, expressed by a well established professor in my institution. A friend of mine was noting that, despite the urgings of many around him, he will not be taking paternity leave when his son is born in a month or two.

    Influential Prof then proceeded to praise him, for what he described as his admiral and ethical attitude, noting that in the past paternity and maternity leave taken by his colleagues had been particularly burdensome for his other colleagues, who had had to pick up the teaching load of the parents on leave.

    I think this highlights the importance of decent institutional support for paternity and maternity leave – had his department ensured adequate cover, this would have stymied the negative attitudes towards those who take up their legal entitlement to leave, and removed the prospect of guilt at taking leave that my friend is now stuck with. (not to mention providing some stop gap teaching jobs for those in need of teaching experience!)

    (When I pointed this out, he mumbled something about the unlikelihood of being able to pay for adequate cover, in this economic climate…)

    I must say, I was amazed and dismayed to find this line being espoused by a generally egalitarian minded Prof.

  11. PQ: Is there any possibility of childcare at a university near you while you at least do an adjunct class or two. I think it is very hard to keep going all on one’s own. Another option might perhaps be to follow some blogs related to your area(s) and try to participate actively. I’m going to try to make a suggestion under the isolated feminist philoospher entry also that you might want to react to.

    Anonymous, that’s awful. Do you have any faculty senate or women’s committee that could push for some education of the faculty? My limited experience with people who have been in industrial research suggests that some effort to inform people can actually work.

  12. jj, thanks for your concern and ideas. I may look for an adjunct course soon. I’ve been thinking about that lately. If so, I would just find a sitter for the time frame/days that I’d need. The adjunct thing hasn’t felt appealing because I’ve done that extensively already, with fellowships, etc., and the adjunct pay doesn’t make it seem worthwhile. Nonetheless I’m thinking about maybe looking for a course perhaps next academic year.

    Another difficulty is finding something at a college that is not too far away. The travel time is of utmost importance. It’s just not worthwhile if all the places that want me are an hour’s travel, or longer. It’s just too hard with childcare, and with having to cope with possible emergencies. Being able to get back home quickly is important.

    By the way, I don’t believe any daycare would be available to me at the university and I don’t believe there even is a daycare. More importantly with the way my children’s school is structured (and without busing), I would not be able to put them into a daycare. Someone would need to go pick them up from school and then bring them to the daycare, if I were not available. The younger one is going into kindergarten in September. The school day ends at 11:35 on the two early kindergarten days, and then I will need to return to school at 3:00 to get the older one. (On the three other days they will both be picked up at the same time, 3:00.)

    Sorry for all the little details, but it’s those details that make the situation difficult.

  13. thanks jj – i’ll look into that. I think it is surely much needed ( my friend and the eminent professor are in fact in different faculties, showing the widespread nature of these problematic attitudes).
    On the other hand, I know the equality officer at the institution is a real force, so will get in touch with him about it!

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