We need a new metaphor: fixing "leaky pipes" won't cut it

leaky-pipe-jpeg.JPGHistoriann rolled out of bed on the wrong side, late, and with bad hair this morning, so here’s a suitably cranky Monday post to get the rest of you amped up as you trudge off to do the dumb things you gotta do today.  Leslie Madsen-Brooks over at BlogHer picks up on the “leaky pipline” experience of women in academe with a multidisciplinary round-up of current commentary called “How the University (Doesn’t) Work (Esp. for Women):  Labor Relations in Higher Ed.” She points us to a forthcoming article in the spring 2008 Hypatia by MIT philosopher Sally Haslanger called “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy:  Not by Reason (Alone)” (click the link for the full text.) 

Haslanger’s paper offers insight into the one humanities discipline that remains overwhelmingly white and male (instead of just mostly white and male).  In addition to several disturbing stories from her career, she offers several data points to support her analysis, including a count of the numbers of men and women who have published in the top philosophy journals from 2002-07, the numbers of men and women editors and associate editors at those journals, and the sex ratios of the top 20 philosophy departments in the U.S.  Her analysis of the current state of the field sounds somewhat like where history was perhaps 20 or 25 years ago as recounted by Nancy Hewitt at the AHA and on this blog earlier this month

The other links that Madsen-Brooks provides suggest however that even if we fix the leaks, men and women live in different plumbing systems, as it were.  She points us to our friends over at How the University Works, who have some recent posts on the gendered division of labor in the university as a whole, with women found mostly in the humanities and in non-tenure track positions, and men dominating administration and high-status, higher paid fields like engineeering and business.  Thus, much like the gendering of medicine sub-specialties that Historiann cited, universities have accomodated women only by permitting them a foothold in the lowest-paying, lowest-prestige positions.  How the University Works also has a recent post on the gendering of law both in private firms and law schools, found recently at Feminist Law Professors, where Ann Bartow and hew crew have done a bang-up job posting on questions of gender equity in academia overall as well as in the law in particular.  (See especially their recent post on how double-blind reviews magically increase the numbers of women who get published in a scholarly journal.)

0 thoughts on “We need a new metaphor: fixing "leaky pipes" won't cut it

  1. I’m sorry, Historiann, but are you suggesting that sexism has something to do with all this? I’m shocked, completely shocked.
    Unfortunately, all of this evidence provides an excellent answer to those poor students I occasionally see who think that the quality of their mind and their work is all that matters.


  2. Isn’t it depressing that this is still the message for our young students? “Yes, the evil claw of patriarchy will get you too, my pretty!” (as we cackle like Miss Gulch/the Wicked Witch of the West.)


  3. Gah! Argh!

    I forget the breakdown … I think we’re up to about 60 or 70 percent of English undergrads and grad students are women, but that the women PhDs get heavily clustered in the temp and adjunct jobs.

    I guess it’s nice to be able to see lots of women in my classes and profs as mentors, but I’d like to get paid a decent salary for doing this too, dammit!


  4. Pingback: What’s a “good university?” : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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