See this story on “Gender Equity in Academia: Bad News From the Trenches, and Some Possible Solutions,” based on interviews with senior women faculty at UC Irvine. Discuss.
This is something that may come up in our plenary panel tonight on the status of women.
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I like what that article had to say about service positions: I can see how service-tracking might, in some cases, be the result of an unconscious bias towards men who “have too much on their plate” (research, etc.)
The real issue in my M.A.-granting department (and I would have liked to hear more about this) is that women faculty get stuck with the heavy grad advising load. I think that our female faculty are perceived as being more nurturing or something — “easier” than the male faculty (manifestly untrue, in the case of my female colleagues). I know of two female colleagues who, in the year before tenure, counted up their advisees, and found that they were each lead advisor on 12 theses, second reader on 12 more… and this didn’t even take into account the exam committees they were one. Unlike Ph.D. advising, there is no real prestige attached to having people flock to you to do an MA thesis — it’s just a bunch of uncompensated work.
Hi Notorious–thanks for stopping by to comment. I think you’re right about M.A. theses being a lot of work, but if that’s the highest degree your department offers (like mine), then it’s as good as it gets! (But since my department’s specialty is public history, and because the M.A. is the terminal degree in that field, maybe my perspective is different.)
I don’t see a disparity M.A. students flocking to women faculty–students in my department either work with the public historians, or with the U.S. Western historians for the most part (because Western history is local history.) My areas of specialization will always be marginal to this department, which does free me up to work on other things–like your male colleagues who are unpestered by sitting on graduate committees!
One of the disjunctions that you more often see in terminal MA-granting departments (like mine–smallish ones, anyway) than in Ph.D programs is between what kinds of coursework the students typically want to do and what many of us typically want to teach. It’s much harder to recruit students for subject-matter interest than on the basis of what the regional marketplace offers and what kinds of post-study careers they foresee. So when one is indulged with the opportunity to offer a seminar, especially if its only one of a very few that semester, the tension arises between self-gratification and making it into a kind of graduate-level “service” course. (We’d have to do a lot of “Special Topics on North African Tank Battles” to really serve the demand, and while it’s easy enough to be dismissive of such tastes, the tension is there. And from the perspective of the students in question–fellowship aid is very thin–it’s a real dilemma.