“Diagnosed” with pregnancy in academia

From a guest post at Tenure, She Wrote:

When I read about women who found out they were pregnant as a postdoc or in graduate school, the story often reads like someone who has just been diagnosed with some chronic illness (which is not fair to mothers, or people who have a chronic illness).  I admit that I also felt this way, and I had to search (and sometimes beg) for support from faculty and administration. A professor in my program said to me “I thought about what I would say to a male graduate student who told me they were having a baby, so I have to say ‘congratulations’ to you.” Do I say thank you to your backhanded congratulations?? 

Read the rest there! And have fun poking around the whole blog. TSW is so regularly splendid I could link to it every week.

Not Alone

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault has released its first report. A snippet:

Among the most promising prevention strategies – and one we heard a lot about in our listening sessions – is bystander intervention. Social norms research reveals that men often misperceive what other men think about this issue: they overestimate their peers’ acceptance of sexual assault and underestimate other men’s willingness to intervene when a woman is in trouble. And when men think their peers don’t object to abusive behavior, they are much less likely to step in and help. Programs like Bringing in the Bystander work to change those perspectives – and teach men (and women) to speak out against rape myths  (e.g., women who drink at parties are “asking for it”) and to intervene if someone is at risk of being assaulted.

The full report is here. 


PSWIP “Power, Pedagogy, and Philosophy’s Woman Problem.”

PSWIP (People in Support of Women in Philosophy) wants to extend an invitation to our readers to their upcoming 2014 symposium. The symposium will be held at the New School for Social Research in New York City on May 8th-10th, 2014.

PSWIP_11x17All events are free and open to the public. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you there. For more information, please contact Amie Zimmer (amie.leigh.zimmer@gmail.com)

Professional Norms and a Recent Incident


The norms that facilitate the behavior of our big shot Ivy-league professor piggy back on methods of doing philosophy that are under scrutiny now, that are reinforced by once popular conceptions of justice that now seem too limited (as the anonymous author nicely exhibits in her piece), that rely on a practice of professional bullying by philosophical enforcers that cannot be justified, and that rely on cultures of silence that are being destroyed by our courageous friends at Feministphilosophers. One of the most heartening facets of the last half decade is that all kinds of lousy institutional practices in professional philosophy are now being publicly reevaluated in blogs, on facebook, in workshops, and in department meetings.

Thinkers as diverse as Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume, and Wollstonecraft recognized that if one wants to promote social and political reform then the character of the philosopher as public figure needs to be beyond reproach, or, at least, consistent with the mores one prescribes to others. Our generation is discovering a version of their shared insight. Professional philosophers need to have their professional house in order. That is in the ways we conduct our profession, we need to accommodate ourselves to the demands of justice in a variety of fashion if we want to speak with ongoing authority on the world’s problems. Our status as something other than intellects for hire requires from us a way to integrate our concern with justice into shared best practices (that is, new norms).

Feel free to go discuss at: http://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/2014/04/big-shot-ivy-league-professors-pretty-young-women-and-institutional-norms.html#sthash.nPKysLAp.dpuf

McGinn again

What follows is a long quote from the CHE. On topics like this, comments are typically closed on this blog. Among other things, we are very concerned not to encourage disparaging and reputation destroying comments. In this regard, see Jender’s very important comment here.

A female graduate student who last year accused Colin McGinn, a prominent philosopher, of sexual harassment has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying the University of Miami discriminated against her by mishandling her allegations against him.

The former student, who has left Miami and has not been named publicly, filed the 300-page complaint in March, accusing the university of violating both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The EEOC will consider the complaint and decide whether to issue the former student a right to sue.

Her lawyer gave The Chronicle a summary of the complaint, which says Miami played down her harassment charges, telling her she did not have enough evidence. Instead, the summary says, Miami told Mr. McGinn he had broken a university rule requiring professors to report romantic relationships with students they supervise. The university then pressured Mr. McGinn to resign, the document says, and he did so last December.

The graduate student—who also worked as an assistant to Mr. McGinn—maintains that she never had a consensual relationship with him.

… The student, it continues, felt “hounded, suffocated, and trapped by his constant barrage of communications and need.”

Officials at Miami ignored the student’s complaints and charged Mr. McGinn with violating its relationship policy as a way to get him out the door fast and to avoid further fallout, the summary of the complaint says. In that way, it says, officials “hijacked” the grievance process “to save UM a public scandal, rather than provide a fair accounting of Professor McGinn’s misconduct.”

Miami’s lawyer, Eric D. Isicoff, issued a statement last week to The Chronicle, saying the university “takes very seriously all complaints alleging misconduct.” After investigating the student’s allegations against Mr. McGinn, “senior administrators determined that an immediate resolution would be the most prudent approach,” the statement reads. “The entire situation was concluded over a period of only a few months.”

An earlier letter from concerned philosophers expresses another concern about the student’s being treated justly.

More bad behaviour from prominent philosopher, and a plea to readers

described here.

The very brave woman who has come forward with her story will undoubtedly have all of the usual things said about her online, and I post this mainly to ask our readers to PLEASE be on the lookout for this happening. Remind people that the tropes being used to undermine this woman’s testimony are the standard tropes, and please do not let attempts to destroy her reputation stand.

Pay gap: not simply about which professions women choose

Are women paid less than men because they choose to be, by gravitating to lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work?*

That is what some Republicans who voted down the equal pay bill this month would have you believe. “There’s a disparity not because female engineers are making less than male engineers at the same company with comparable experience,” the Republican National Committee said this month. “The disparity exists because a female social worker makes less than a male engineer.”

But a majority of the pay gap between men and women actually comes from differences within occupations, not between them — and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine, according to data from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist and a leading scholar on women and the economy.

It is related to disproportionate rewards in long hours cultures.

Occupations that most value long hours, face time at the office and being on call — like business, law and surgery — tend to have the widest pay gaps. That is because those employers pay people who spend longer hours at the office disproportionately more than they pay people who don’t, Dr. Goldin found. A lawyer who works 80 hours a week at a big corporate law firm is paid more than double one who works 40 hours a week as an in-house counsel at a small business.

For more, go here.

*Blogger’s note: even if it was due to differences in profession, there’s no reason to think this would be due solely to choices of course.

Thanks, Jender-Mom!

Student evaluations

Excellent brief article.

Student evaluations are a poor indicator of professor performance. The good news is that college students often reward instructors who teach well. The bad news is that students often conflate good instruction with pleasant ambience and low expectations. As a result they also reward instructors who grade easily, require little work, are glib and chatty, wear nice clothes, and are physically attractive. It’s generally impossible to separate all these factors in an evaluation. Plus, students will penalize demanding professors or professors who have given them a bad grade, regardless of the quality of instruction that a professor provides. In the end, deans and tenure committees are using bad data to evaluate professor performance, while professors feel pressure to grade easier and reduce workloads to receive higher evaluations.

Philosophical memoir about rape and about recovery

Canadian philosopher Karyn Freeman has written a book, One Hour in Paris: A True Story of Rape and Recovery. 

Here is an except from a story about the book in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper:


Before he got drunk on vodka and brutally assaulted her at knife-point for an hour, Karyn Freedman’s rapist made them dinner, chicken and salad. It was 1990 in Paris, and Freedman, then 22, had been backpacking through Europe. On her first night in Paris, she arrived to the apartment of a professor who had mentored one of her friends. The rapist lived there, too, and played host before the vicious attack. Freedman, now an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph, battled post-traumatic stress disorder for more than a decade following the assault. She details her ordeal in the new book One Hour in Paris: A True Story of Rape and Recovery. Blending memoir with psychological and neuroscientific research into what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized, Freedman examines the significant cost of rape on a victim’s life – distrust in relationships, a sex life “corrupted” by paralyzing flashbacks and an understandably tainted view of the capabilities of her fellow humans.

Read the rest here.

Query: Climate Survey Experience?

From Mari Mikkola:

We at the Humboldt-University, Berlin, have recently done a faculty-wide climate survey and are in the process of reviewing the findings. With this in mind, I’m hoping to get in touch with colleagues who have done one at their institution already. We would be interested to hear about your publicly available results, whether there were some particular problems in going through the processes of information-acquisition and –review, whether you have any helpful tips in general. We are asking for this information so that we can compare our results and see how they fare with international counterparts. We’d also appreciate any tips so that we can improve the survey for the future. If you’d rather not respond on the pages of this blog, please email me directly at mari.mikkola[at]hu-berlin.de. Communications will be treated confidentially if need be, and the survey task force will not reproduce any information without permission.

Many thanks in advance!