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grad skool rulz for women students? help me out!

I’ve always told people that graduate school is hard for everyone. However, it’s hard in different ways for different people. I think the rulz should have at least one post, or more, dedicated to the issues women have to face in the academy. I’m not qualified to write on the topic, but I would like readers to post in comments or email me privately (frojas at indiana dot edu) what advice or strategies they think that women graduate students should get from the rulz. If you can link to other websites with good advice, that’d be great. I’ll bundle it all together into a post. Your suggestions will be confidential, unless you specifically tell me you want your name in the posts. Looking forward to your insightful feedback.

Written by fabiorojas

April 17, 2008 at 3:21 am

9 Responses

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  1. Find professors in the department who will not stand for sexism. That way when you do face it (and, even in sociology, I have faced it and will continue to from some very high officials in my department) you have someone to go to that can give you advice on what you should do. Also, they will give you a stronger voice than your voice on your own. Also, if there is a problem with sexism in your department, be vocal about the issues with the other graduate students in the department (women and men) and have conversations about this issue. If men are being systematically given benefits because they are men, this is something that the women of the department should point out to their male colleagues. Sometimes, they haven’t even noticed that it is the case. It will make everyone more aware.

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    pitse1eh

    April 18, 2008 at 5:34 am

  2. Agreed, and the same applies for problems with sexual harassment on the part of male students and male faculty. Learn to set boundaries, remain a professional remove from your students and professors (it is tempting to be friends with your students, but you are not their friend and they are not your friends and some may take the gesture the wrong way) and find people you can trust for advice when others transgress boundaries.

    Vicki Schultz wrote a great article called Sanitizing the Workplace, and it’s true that school relationships are stripped of social intimacy. But perhaps for good reason. Open door office hour policies are not bad ideas, and meeting students at cafes for office hours is rife with potential for misinterpretation. Flirtation belongs nowhere in an email communique with a professor, and if you feel uncomfortable you should say so.

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    belle lettre

    April 18, 2008 at 7:03 am

  3. I think one of the biggest issues facing (some) women in grad school is the decision about when to have kids. I’ve seen discussion of the timing issue elsewhere — sorry, no link — and won’t hash through all the tradeoffs here. My take, though, is that it’s more important to have the “extra” time (i.e., not spent having/raising kids) in grad school than it is to have it when you’re a professor, *even if untenured.* From a career standpoint, all years are not weighted equally.

    BTW, I know men may also struggle with the “when to have kids” question. However, I have yet to see a case in which a male graduate student/professor takes anywhere near the same career hit for having a child as a female graduate student/professor. Period.

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    kim

    April 18, 2008 at 11:27 am

  4. My experiences with sexism have largely come from ASA meetings, from anonymous professors striding by commenting on the “loveliness” of those sitting at our table. Following up with, “give me my sexist ticket now.”

    Then also at discussions that were informal, but still professional, older sociologists using paternalistic terms of endearment to put me in my place (sweetie, dear, honey). Because I was a newer graduate student, I expected more from sociologists, and it threw me off significantly. I thought it was strictly a generational gap, but this has proven to be too generous. Unfortunately, I now expect the worst until I’m proven wrong.
    Now what is the appropriate response to that coming from a full professor with an endowed chair named after him in front of his colleagues, with you (the woman) as the presenter responsible for respecting the respondents? Also, I will note none of the other men intervened in the moments of my flabbergasted silence.

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    muleer

    April 18, 2008 at 4:27 pm

  5. On having kids in grad school, I found this ASA publication enlightening:

    Click to access RBbaby.pdf

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    pitse1eh

    April 18, 2008 at 5:10 pm

  6. Thank you all for these insightful comments. Please add more as you see fit. They’ll help future cohorts get through their education and begin their careers.

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    fabiorojas

    April 18, 2008 at 8:27 pm

  7. Just had a seminar on this topic at my school.

    The most interesting and striking fact for me (as male) was that having the same sex like your teaching staff can have a huge impact on wether or not you pass grad school successfuly.

    So this is interesting for female students AND for male students: If possible, choose a grad school where the teaching staff you will have to deal with has mostly the same sex like you.

    The studies we discussed in that course were all from the german speaking parts of Europe (German/Switzerland/Austria), so there might be culturally differences according to this point when choosing a grad school in other countries than these mentioned above.
    But in the countries mentioned above this is actually a proven fact: The chances that a female student is successful in grad school are way higher when she has to deal with a female prof. than when she has to deal with a male prof.

    If you know speaking german or french there are some interesting research papers on this topic here (Center for Science and Technology Studies of Switzerland):

    http://www.cest.ch/en/aktuell.htm

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    fabio

    April 23, 2008 at 11:45 am

  8. Just had a seminar on this topic at my school.

    The most interesting and striking fact for me (as male) was that having the same sex like
    your teaching staff can have a huge impact on wether or not you pass grad school
    successfuly.

    So this is interesting for female students AND for male students: If possible, choose a
    grad school where the teaching staff you will have to deal with has mostly the same sex
    like you.

    The studies we discussed in that course were all from the german speaking parts of Europe
    (German/Switzerland/Austria), so there might be culturally differences according to this
    point when choosing a grad school in other countries than these mentioned above.
    But in the countries mentioned above this is actually a proven fact: The chances that a
    female student is successful in grad school are way higher when she has to deal with a
    female prof. than when she has to deal with a male prof.

    If you know speaking german or french there are some interesting research papers on this
    topic here (Center for Science and Technology Studies of Switzerland):

    http://www.cest.ch/en/aktuell.htm

    Like

    fabio

    April 24, 2008 at 7:21 pm

  9. […] April 29th, 2008 Graduate school is tough for everyone, but in different ways. A few weeks ago, I asked female scholars and graduate students to share their thoughts for the benefit of women worki…. Here’s what they […]

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