CFP: Sexual Harassment

Margaret Crouch is the new editor of the APA Newsletter on Feminism.  (Thanks and congratulations, Margaret!)  She happily permits us to repost this from the FEAST list.  Note that you needn’t bother trying to navigate APAonline to send in material.  Instead, just see the end of the post below for Margaret Crouch’s email address.

Call for Papers
APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy
Topic: Sexual Harassment
Deadline: December 1, 2011

I did not get a call for papers out for additional papers for the Spring 2012 issue this summer, but I am extending the deadline for that issue until December 1, 2011. If you would like to submit something, please let me know to expect it.

I would also like to continue [outgoing editor Christina Bellon]’s focus on issues in the profession, and intend to have a section of the Newsletter devoted to such issues in each Newsletter, should there be sufficient submissions.

I have not yet received books from publishers for review, but will be sending out a call for reviewers in the near future.

Thank you for your patience while I figure things out.


Margaret Crouch

Margaret A. Crouch
Professor of Philosophy
Department of History and Philosophy
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
mcrouch [at] emich [dot] edu

Professional role confidence:why women leave engineering

It isn’t worry abput math skills. And it isn’t life-work issues.

From the CHE:

October 25, 2011
Lack of Confidence as Professionals Spurs Women to Leave Engineering, Study Finds
By Dan Berrett
Women who begin college intending to become engineers are more likely than men to change their major and choose another career, but it’s because they lack confidence, not competence, says a paper in the October issue of the American Sociological Review.

Specifically, women lack “professional role confidence,” a term that describes, loosely, a person’s sense that he or she belongs in a certain field. The term encompasses more than mastery of core intellectual skills. It also touches on a person’s confidence that he or she has the right expertise for a given profession, and that the corresponding career path meshes with his or her interests and values.

As one of the most sex-segregated professions outside the military, engineering carries ingrained notions and biases about men being more naturally suited to the field, which can have self-reinforcing effects, notes the paper’s lead author, Erin Cech, a postdoctoral fellow in sociology at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

“The more confident students are in their professional expertise, the more likely they are to persist in an engineering major. However, women have significantly less of this expertise confidence than do men,” Ms. Cech writes, with her co-authors, Brian Rubineau of Cornell University, Susan Silbey of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Caroll Seron of the University of California at Irvine.

Ms. Cech and her co-authors found … Women’s family plans had little bearing on their career planning, once they entered engineering training, the paper says, though the plans probably do play a role later, when they embark on their careers. Surprisingly, the researchers found much stronger evidence that men were more likely to leave engineering if they had plans to start a family.

Women’s views of their math abilities also did not significantly predict their persistence toward an engineering degree or their intent to enter the field. “Once students matriculate into this math-intensive field, more complex, profession-specific self-assessments appear to replace math self-assessment as the driving social-psychological reasons for attrition,” the authors write.

The paper’s authors suggest that the findings about professional-role confidence may be relevant in other fields in which women are historically underrepresented, including physical science and medical specialties such as surgery.

The authors recommend that engineering programs consider engaging in more explicit discussion about professional roles, expertise, and career fit, and provide more opportunities for internships that put students into real-world engineering projects, where students can see the applicability of a broader set of skills, such as teamwork.

Anita Hill, 20 years later

The Nation has an excellent special issue devoted to the woman whose bravery put sexual harassment on the American national agenda. Patricia Williams writes:

Sad fact: there are few women of my generation who don’t have what is known as our “Anita story.” Mine occurred in 1980. I was five years out of law school and had decided to shift my career from practice to teaching. I was walking down a long hallway at the Association of American Law Schools meat market for new hires. There were two men behind me who were joking about the excellent shape of my legs and the unusually well-defined musculature of my lower quadrants. (Did I mention that it was a very, very long hallway?) At the end of that eternal passage was my appointed interview room. I escaped into it, only to be followed by the two. They, as it turned out, were doing the hiring.

Life was like that sometimes, I thought. And so I went through all the proper motions of expressing how much my fine ideas could contribute to their faculty, pretending that nothing had happened.

I didn’t stop pretending nothing had happened until 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the unwanted office approaches of her boss, then-chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clarence Thomas.