This is everything we could have wanted from the NEH in terms of response. (As of yesterday, there had only been private emails to those who wrote letters to the NEH.)

The National Endowment for the Humanities has apologized to a grant recipient who was told by the director of an NEH-financed seminar in Europe that she had 12 hours to demonstrate that she had adequate child care arrangements in place for her son or she would lose her spot. The plight of the woman, a single mother, was first reported on the blog Feminist Philosophers and then spread elsewhere online. When Inside Higher Ed asked the NEH about the situation last week, officials said that they would investigate, but that the situation as described was not consistent with endowment policies.

An NEH spokeswoman, via e-mail, said Tuesday that the investigation by the endowment determined that the report “was, unfortunately, true. NEH has accepted full responsibility and apologized to the professor involved. We believe we are in the process of resolving the issue to her satisfaction. We have assured her that she is welcome to attend the institute to which she applied and, at her request, we have also extended the deadline to make it possible for her to apply for another seminar if she so chooses.” The spokeswoman added: “Asking an applicant to provide information regarding child care was inappropriate and should have had no bearing on the selection process. Qualified applicants who tell the NEH that they will participate full time in our programs should be taken at their word. We erred and are determined that it will not happen again.”

Victory feels good.

12 thoughts on “Yes!

  1. Yea! Congrats!

    I was shocked to see from a letter circulated on swip-l that the demand for childcare arrangements was accompanied by remarks questioning her commitment as a parent and as a seminar participant.

  2. elp, absolutely. Everyone is being so civilized and all that I got worried about reinforcing the stereotype of the vengeful feminist harridan. Nonetheless, I’d like to see more than words here. Not necessarily “I smite thee thus,” but more than “we’re sorry.”

    It does seem at least that the NEH is assuming some responsibility, but they should consider that that might require some house cleaning.

  3. I am not sure that asking for someone to be sacked is that helpful. It seems that an open acknowledgement of this issue and the publicity it has generated is far more beneficial way of resolving this issue than someone getting blamed/sacked/moved internally and that is that.

    Similarly if we are worried about being vengeful feminist harridans maybe we should not rejoice in a victory but in a very positive resolution of an obvious problem, including apology, and the publicity again…

    but maybe I am nitpicking..

  4. Prof X is happy with this resolution and I am too. All I meant by ‘victory’ was that we fought for a good resolution and we got one.

  5. Wahine: I am actually worried that there’s something in the culture of NEH or a part of it that won’t be much changed just by resolving this one case. I should have said that apparently whoever declared she had to find baby-sitting, presented all this as partially coming from NEH.

    One of the problems is that attitudes like the one in the letter can go underground quite easily. It’s not good to think that in some area of NEH single mothers with children are presumed to be irresponsible.

    Also, actually, I am pretty keen on people who dish out these things find out that such attitudes are absolutely unacceptable. They are not the judges of single mothers, despite what they apparently think. It may be that my attitude here is not very constructive.

  6. My impression, JJ, is that it didn’t come from the NEH but from an organiser acting on their own (though perhaps claiming otherwise). The NEH has been responding to Prof X at a *very* high level and taking it very seriously.

  7. Jender, I hope that’s so.

    One of the strange things about all this is that the directors all met up at UC Santa Cruz; I had thought that a very unlikely place to find faculty with such views.

    I don’t mean that as an argument for NEH as the source.

  8. Great result!
    And lets hope that the publicity surrounding this might help others avoid such unreasonable demands in future… [hoping hoping]!

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