February
18th 2011
Is research a tool for maintaining the sexist status quo in academic departments?

Posted under: Gender, jobs, publication, students

Busybusy again today–no time to think up and write a post myself, but Tenured Radical (who is herself busybusy) is hosting a conversation about sexism in hiring and tenure decisions at Princeton and in academia in general.  She writes:

Untenured faculty are always wanting to know what that little extra edge is that will get them tenure.  Be a man and ignore your students, that’s my advice.  According to the Daily Princetonian, President Shirley Tilghman suggested back in 2003 that if baby Tigers did not focus so much on teaching they would have a better chance of getting tenure.  According to attorney R. William Potter (no relation to the Radical),

In December 2003, Tilghman advised junior faculty not to focus so much on teaching undergraduates; if they want to obtain the holy grail of tenure they should concentrate on scholarly research, she told them, as their “first and foremost” priority. “Their ability to conduct research and demonstrate excellence in scholarship is the most important thing we look at,” she said, although she added that teaching ability is also “considered very seriously.”

I can’t find the origins of the Tilghman quote about tenure cited in the article, but if you go hereyou get to an article that cites Tilghman’s position in 1996 that tenure is a sexist institution and ought to be abolished. Now that’s what I call interesting.  But like all successful people, she now says that isn’t really what she meant.  She was just trying to be provocative, she explained in 2001, recanting this position after she took office as President.

Many readers pointed out that not advising junior faculty at Princeton to focus on their research would be malpractice–but in a further comment TR explained that she is dismayedthat “after all these years, and even at a place like Princeton (whose history department has numerous scholars quite famous for their teacher[ing]) we have nothing more creative to say to untenured people about the relationship between developing these two skills than ‘Do less of this/do more of that.’ That’s true at Zenith as well, where it is even odder really, since the kind of people who teach at Princeton often send their kids to places like Zenith because they know they will be taught in a way to a standard they have less chance of finding at a prestigious Ivy. I suppose the creativity I seek is more along the lines of ‘HOW do we help untenured faculty learn to teach well, given the circumstances of their teaching lives, and in a way that supports scholarly production?’”

I already seconded this question over at TR’s place, and added my concern that one reason institutionalized sexism still haunts us all is the gendering of teaching as female and research as male.  This may be what’s inhibiting our conversations along the lines TR suggests, either because 1) we may discover that we don’t in fact hold men and women faculty to the same standard when it comes to their teaching, or 2) we may find that we’re all resistant to conversations about how research supports and enhances teaching because that might diminish its prestige. 

Why as TR writes “after all these years” don’t we talk more about how scholarship and teaching enhance each other and can be used productively to build effective applications for tenure?  Do we perceive research as the most prestigious of our activities because it’s effectively gendered male, and are we all–women and men alike–reluctant to compromise its value by introducing girly values like good teaching into our conversations about research? 

What do you all think?  How does teaching factor into tenure decisions at your colleges or unis?  I just said the other day to a friend whose department is running a search and who expressed concerns about one candidate’s teaching abilities, “Hire the person with the best and most interesting research agenda.  You’re never in your whole career going to cast a vote against someone because hir teaching isn’t good enough.  It’s just never going to happen.”  (So am I part of the problem?)

85 Comments »

85 Responses to “Is research a tool for maintaining the sexist status quo in academic departments?”

  1. Clarissa on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:17 am #

    My university is supposed to be a teaching institution. However, I was told by 3 high-ranking administrators on 3 separate occasions, “Nobody cares about your teaching. Stop investing so much energy and enthusiasm into your teaching. Just publish. Keep publishing, that’s the only thing that matters.” So this tendency is obviously there.

    However, I find your idea that research is “male”, whatever that means, to be deeply offensive. I’m female and while I love teaching, my main focus has always been and will always be on research. I love it, I live for it. How does it make me less of a woman to privilege research? Does it mean that I’m not “girly” enough if I prefer research to teaching?

  2. Dr. Crazy on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:29 am #

    @ Clarissa – my understanding of Historiann’s argument is that research has, historically, been gendered masculine, while teaching has been gendered feminine. It has nothing to do with the “actual” sex of the academic, but rather that the hierarchy of higher ed has privileged research as a “masculine” pursuit, whereas teaching and service are more likely to be gendered feminine (and thus of less value). I don’t think that’s offensive: I think it’s reality.

    @Historiann – I’m with you (and TR) on most of this, but a further wrinkle that I see is that at my teaching institution, teaching is valued *more positively* for good male teachers, and good male teachers who also research get more latitude to talk about research and teaching as complementary. In contrast, women who are “good teachers” don’t get the same kind of credit, and women often aren’t seen as *excellent* teachers because so much of our evaluation process is tied to student evaluations and, as a rule, our students are sexist and evaluate female faculty more negatively than male faculty. Further, if women talk about research as enhancing teaching, they are perceived as not being “nurturing” teachers, so it’s better just to shut up about your research, unless it’s obviously pedagogical in nature (even though, of course, pedagogical scholarship isn’t valued as highly as traditional scholarship.) I suppose all of this to say that I don’t think research is regarded as “prestigious” for women in all institutional contexts, regardless of the way it’s gendered. In contrast to what I said in my response to Clarissa above, in some institutional contexts, sex is what is really at issue – not gender.

  3. Clarissa on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:34 am #

    ” research has, historically, been gendered masculine, while teaching has been gendered feminine”

    -I don’t understand the meaning of this sentence at all. Could you explain what that means exactly? That women are encouraged to invest more energy into teaching instead of research? In my experience, this is patently not true.

  4. Frowner on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:41 am #

    I believe that “THING has been gendered male” means that THING has been historically considered 1. something that men do more/better than women; 2. “manly”, ie using the “manly” virtues of reason, intellect, courage, concentration etc etc as opposed to the “feminine” virtues of empathy, nurturing, patience. 3. more “serious” because it is perceived as something that men do.

    A good example: in the Soviet Union, being a doctor was perceived as a high-status occupation; when the Soviets increased the number of women doctors, the prestige (and perks) of the position dropped right off. When being a doctor was gendered male, it was important; when it became gendered female, it wasn’t.

    This has nothing to do with whether there are female doctors, whether female doctors are good, whether female doctors have more or less empathy than male doctors, etc. It is a cultural fiction that is used to reinforce the status quo.

    Research is “gendered” male partly because it’s easier to do research if you’re a straight guy in a traditional relationship–you can devote much more time to the lab because your wife does more of the housework and more of the childcare; you can go to more conferences because ditto; you can concentrate intensely on grant-writing, etc etc. This is not to say that male researchers don’t want to do housework or child care; it is to say that male researchers often find it easier to succeed in research because it is not as imperative that they do so.

    Also, the type of networking and pressuring and talking-to-your-NIH-program-director that really helps you succeed as a grant-getter is something that men are better socialized for and more rewarded for–it’s being bitchy and aggressive if women do it, but savvy if men do.

  5. LadyProf on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Clarissa, I am stunned that anyone could not understand the Dr. Crazy/Historiann/TR point. I’ll take a swing at paraphrasing it: In the academy, research is (socially) coded to align with virtues that are also socially coded to be male. This version of sexism doubts that women can be serious, inspired, effective, productive researchers. When women refute this bias in their work, their accomplishments are undercredited.

    Gender bias re: teaching works a bit differently. Women are presumed to be preoccupied with it because it’s so girly and nurturing–but also less good at it. We “know” that they’re less good at it because students like and respect their female teachers less. And because in the classroom women are, y’know, less than serious, inspired, etc.

    It’s BIASED PERCEPTIONS, not an accurate account of women’s experiences, that we are talking about here.

  6. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:47 am #

    What Dr. Crazy and Frowner said about something being gendered male. I wonder if that’s the reason we (in many if not most unis) fetishize research and prioritize it above all when it comes to T & P decisions. I do not agree with this gendering of research as male nor am I an advocate for this position–quite the contrary. Just because Clarissa (like most young women faculty, I’m sure) has been urged to focus on research doesn’t mean that research as a whole isn’t 1) gendered male and 2) valued above other accomplishments because of this.

    Dr. Crazy’s example from her department and the “extra credit” good male teachers get for being good teachers sounds like the extra credit and cookies men get when they’re pushing their own children around in strollers or taking them to the playground. In many quarters men get rewarded for just showing up as teachers/fathers, when women are held to much higher standards in both the task that’s gendered female (teaching/mothering) and research.

  7. Frowner on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:49 am #

    And to double-post, this has nothing to do with whether a specific woman researcher is good at research or whether a specific woman researcher cares about her research more or less than her teaching. It isn’t about whether doing research makes you girly or boyish or genders you at all. It’s about a particular discourse about research, not a discourse about individual researchers.

    Although I’d argue that there is a greater variety of negative stereotypes of women researchers than of men and a shortage of positive ones, and that this has to do with the way research is imagined as a masculine pursuit–women researchers are more likely to be harshly judged about their gender than men are.

    That is, women researchers can be “too masculine/cold/not nurturing”, “too sexy/too pretty”, “too mousy and introverted”, etc. And these stereotypes are both more strongly negative than negative stereotypes of male researchers and more explicitly about gender performance. The stereotype is always implicitly based in an idea of a perfect woman researcher who is feminine-but-not-too-feminine, nurturing-but-not-smothering, driven-but-not-too-driven, etc.

  8. Dr. Crazy on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:51 am #

    @Clarissa – there’s been a lot of press about how this plays out in terms of hiring, tenure, and promotion of female faculty. See for example:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/06/12/women

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/04/27/mla

    I don’t think that women are *encouraged* to invest more energy into their teaching (and sometimes they are even explicitly discouraged, as you note), but I think that they are *expected* to do so, as well as being expected to do more time-consuming kinds of service, while at the same time being *encouraged* to do more with their research, in many institutional contexts. In other words, women are *expected* to perform gender-normative tasks like being a nurturing teacher or exceptionally committed to service and will be punished if they don’t, but those things don’t get anybody tenure or promoted. In contrast, men are expected AND encouraged to do those activities that do get a person tenure and promotion, and if they perform well in the other areas they are congratulated for doing something out of the ordinary.

  9. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Also, what LadyProf said.

    I guess my interest in this issue springs from my *research* on gender and sexuality in early America. I have come to the conclusion that because hierarchy is so intimately and inextricably tied to gender in some fashion that there’s almost no such thing as hierarchy that’s ungendered. (Hierarchies are also tied to other things to be sure, like class, age, race, religious affiliation, majority/minority status, etc., but gender appears to be fundamental.) So when I perceive a hierarchy, I wonder about the ways in which gender and ideas about might be structuring it.

  10. Clarissa on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:57 am #

    ” when the Soviets increased the number of women doctors, the prestige (and perks) of the position dropped right off. When being a doctor was gendered male, it was important; when it became gendered female, it wasn’t.”

    -As a granddaughter of a Soviet doctor, I have to disagree with you completely. This is just not true. Trying to analyze gender relations in the Soviet Union through American concepts is a mistake.

    “Research is “gendered” male partly because it’s easier to do research if you’re a straight guy in a traditional relationship–you can devote much more time to the lab because your wife does more of the housework and more of the childcare; you can go to more conferences because ditto; you can concentrate intensely on grant-writing, etc etc.”

    -Surely, nobody is forcing people to adopt such a ridiculous model in their relationships?

    ‘Women are presumed to be preoccupied with it because it’s so girly and nurturing–but also less good at it.”

    -The amount of times people have used the passive voice in this discussion is, I believe, part of the problem. Presumed by whom? gendered by whom? I have never encountered any such “presumptions.” Do they really exist?

  11. squadratomagico on 18 Feb 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Is the assumption here that one can use the argument, “research enhances teaching” to enhance tenure prospects for assistants who want to link these two pursuits in their career? Because I don’t think that’s a viable argument under our current circumstances. As the conversation already has noted, most colleges and unis don’t care much about teaching when evaluating candidates for tenure. Arguing “but… but… my research makes my teaching better!!” is an argument that suggests that research needs to be justified, and that teaching is self-evidently important to the tenure process. In fact, it’s the reverse.

    I’d be interested to hear people share about the inverse set of questions: In your experience, does teaching enhance your research significantly? Do you routinely gain insights into your writing projects in the classroom? And could you make that argument to a tenure committee as a way of getting them to take teaching more seriously?

    In my case, the answers are clear: not much. In 15 years teaching at OPU, I can only identify one instance in which an insight I gained from re-reading a book for a class, went directly into a publication. (And even then, it wasn’t from a student interaction, it was from having to review the book again.) However, I suspect that is a reflection of the ridiculous pedagogical model of OPU, more than anything else. If I taught at a place like Princeton or Zenith, I imagine my experience would be very different. I’d be interested to hear responses and experiences about this.

  12. Clarissa on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:01 am #

    ” In your experience, does teaching enhance your research significantly? Do you routinely gain insights into your writing projects in the classroom? And could you make that argument to a tenure committee as a way of getting them to take teaching more seriously?”

    -No, no, and no. :-) And when I taught at Yale and Cornell, it was also no, no, and no. :-)

  13. Dr. Crazy on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Ok, I tried to comment but it got stuck in moderation. Let me try again (I think it’s the links that are doing it – let me try to play with the spacing:

    @Clarissa – there’s been a lot of press about how this plays out in terms of hiring, tenure, and promotion of female faculty. See for example:

    http://www.insidehighered.com /news/2008/06/12/women

    //www.insidehighered.com /news/2009/04/27/mla

    I don’t think that women are *encouraged* to invest more energy into their teaching (and sometimes they are even explicitly discouraged, as you note), but I think that they are *expected* to do so, as well as being expected to do more time-consuming kinds of service, while at the same time being *encouraged* to do more with their research, in many institutional contexts. In other words, women are *expected* to perform gender-normative tasks like being a nurturing teacher or exceptionally committed to service and will be punished if they don’t, but those things don’t get anybody tenure or promoted. In contrast, men are expected AND encouraged to do those activities that do get a person tenure and promotion, and if they perform well in the other areas they are congratulated for doing something out of the ordinary.

    As for your later comment about the passive voice, I’ll supply a subject for who does these things: colleagues (both male and female), administrators (both male and female), legislators (both male and female), students (both male and female), etc. It’s great that you haven’t encountered (or noticed) such assumptions or the fact that such assumptions have been commonplace in higher ed for at least the past 40 years. But just because *you* haven’t encountered something doesn’t actually mean that it doesn’t exist.

  14. Clarissa on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:14 am #

    It is very surprising to hear college teaching to be referred to as “nurturing.” Was anybody ever told specifically that they are expected to lecture or teach graduate seminars in a “nurturing way”? Seriously? I wonder what would look like.

    As for different expectations, at my department we have a set of operational papers that I participated actively in creating. They specify the exact kind of service that people of any gender should do in order to fulfill their service requirement. How would anybody’s “expectations” influence my tenure process, if everything is strictly codified in the operational papers?

    There is a lot of sexism in academia. A lot. And I have been victimized by it more than I want to remember. However, it has nothing to do with anybody’s vague and fictitious (in my opinion) expectations as to “nurturing teaching and service.”

  15. Dr. Crazy on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:18 am #

    @Squadrato- I think that my teaching has definitely enhanced my scholarship, but rarely in direct ways – so, for example, it’s not like I develop a course with a particular theme and then that turns into an article or book. It’s not a causal relationship – instead, it’s more like my teaching lets me think about stuff, and then I say things in class I didn’t really know I was going to say, or a student says something that produces some sort of response I didn’t know I had, and then I want to think about that some more. I’m not sure how to articulate that amorphous “well, you know, I have really neat discussions with my students and that’s inspiring” experience in a way that tenure committees would appreciate. That said, I can tell you pretty directly what classes I was teaching when I had a particular idea, and what conversations inspired me. I just don’t know if that’s concrete enough for administrative-speak.

  16. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Sorry Dr. Crazy–I found your other comment. I’m keeping your second one though because I like this line:

    “It’s great that you haven’t encountered (or noticed) such assumptions or the fact that such assumptions have been commonplace in higher ed for at least the past 40 years. But just because *you* haven’t encountered something doesn’t actually mean that it doesn’t exist.”

    Let’s not belabor this issue any more. Just because Clarissa posts under a female name doesn’t mean that her comments should be taken more seriously than someone commenting under a male name. And I’m pretty sure most of you wouldn’t bother arguing with someone making the same comments under a male name.

    Squadrato: your experience is very instructive. I guess my comments here were more about “how to build and maintain a successful and productive career” rather than tailored in the “how to get tenure” mode. (I would guess that few of us want to walk into classrooms for the rest of our lives and feel like we’re doing a poor job, anyway.) The kind of division between teaching and research that you describe is exactly what I’m wondering about.

    To answer your last question, I have come to realizations and connections in my research through my teaching, but that may be because I am very fortunate in being able to teach strictly within my own field and to vary content/teaching materials as it pleases me. (Doesn’t everybody throw books and articles on your syllabi because you want and/or need to read them?)

  17. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:19 am #

    “How would anybody’s “expectations” influence my tenure process, if everything is strictly codified in the operational papers?”

    Oh, my.

  18. Clarissa on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:25 am #

    “Just because Clarissa posts under a female name doesn’t mean that her comments should be taken more seriously than someone commenting under a male name. And I’m pretty sure most of you wouldn’t bother arguing with someone making the same comments under a male name.”

    -And then people wonder what the source of sexism in academia is.

    Don’t worry, I will not participate in any more discussions on this blog, and will just take my “female name” away with me.

  19. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Buh-bye, then. I hope your confidence and optimism about the essential justice of the world never changes, Clarissa.

  20. LadyProf on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Yeah, I also question the gender of “Clarissa.” The passive voice that I and others have used here isn’t a dodge: it recognizes the systemic nature of bias.

    Here are some active-voice locutions, Clarissa. My colleagues in my field, and in my institution, hold women to higher standards and deny them privileges and credit for what they’ve earned. Students treat female instructors unfairly when they fill out survey forms. Administrators pay women faculty less than men. I have direct, personal, and certain experience with all of these oppressions.

    Disbelieve what I’ve lived and been through if you like–I don’t care–but don’t accuse me of speaking vaguely.

  21. squadratomagico on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:32 am #

    In my case, I think my research serves my teaching, but not the reverse. I’m a better teacher because I’m reasonably active in research and publishing, and am able to distill some of those insights and ideas in the classroom; and because being an actively-publishing scholar requires me to keep up with the most recent publications of other people in my field, as well, which makes my teaching more current.

    But it’s a unidirectional flow, not a reciprocal one. Doc. Crazy has made the point that she mulls over and slowly processes ideas through teaching, and that makes sense to me as a more reciprocal model. But Historiann, your point about assigning books you need or want to read: again, that’s less about the classroom than about the broader scholarly world.

    I’m honestly interested in these questions because, in truth, I would *prefer* to be able to say that my teaching enhances my research. It sounds so much nicer, respectful of students and so forth! But if I’m honest, I have to admit it just isn’t true for me, in my particular institutional context.

  22. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:39 am #

    To be clear: I wasn’t questioning Clarissa’s sex, I was pointing out that a dudely name making the same comments would have been called out for trolling a lot earlier. So once again, we’re writing about gendered perceptions! Gendered perceptions that as LadyProf and Dr. Crazy point out (and I as have written here about exhaustively) have real world, material consequences and which serve to justify themselves. After all, if women in academia are having a difficult time getting hired, tenured, promoted, and worked into institutional governance, then they’re just not interested in doing what it takes, right?

    Squadrato: I see what you’re saying. It was probably too easy to say “you can put books you want to read on your syllabus” = teaching facilitates research. I’ve had some lightbulb-over-my-head moments while teaching because of conversations I’ve had with students, and I’ve had some graduate students whose research was instructive and helpful to me in working out some ideas of my own, but that’s maybe more along the lines that Dr. Crazy has described. But–maybe I just don’t expect more than that. (Are my standards too low? Or are your standards a little high, Squadrato? I can’t decide! Maybe both.)

  23. squadratomagico on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I guess my standard is this: Is there something that is intrinsic to your teaching process — planning syllabi, writing lectures and/or leading discussions, responding to student questions and ideas, designing assignments and grading them, holding office hours — that enhances your research in ways that you *wouldn’t* have access to via the more purely research-oriented activities of compiling bibliographies, reading, conferencing and exchanging ideas with colleagues, writing, etc.? Does that first set of activities provide something specifically for research, that the second cannot?

  24. squadratomagico on 18 Feb 2011 at 11:55 am #

    (Oh, and: sorry to highjack! This whole thread seems to be one big exercise in that, huh? I’ll quiet down now that I’ve clarified.)

  25. Perpetua on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    @Squadrato: I used to say the same as you, that my teaching didn’t really enhance my research. I’ve now had experiences that I would classify as my teaching serving my research, as well as my research serving my teaching. It hasn’t been so much that the conversations I have with students inspire my research agenda, but rather that through the topics I have chosen to teach about, I have learned about areas that I’m interested in, and want to develop a research agenda around it. In the most striking case of this, I developed a course purely for pedagogical reasons, and was so inspired by the content of the course (even though it actually kind of failed as a class) that it defined my whole second research project. It was an unintentional result. The other way my teaching serves my research would probably be less compelling to a tenure committee – but teaching does force me to read and keep reading beyond the relatively narrow confines of my research interests. While this might fit the category you mention in the context of Historiann and the broader scholarly world, such choices do shape the form and content of courses. Students get access to different understandings of history based on what we read and assign them, even if our primary motivation is to connect with a largely scholarly world.

    I have to say, however, that I prefer to be at an institution that “values” research more than teaching (if one had to prioritize), because I worry that emphasis on teaching can deteriorate into a climate in which research efforts are ignored/undermined and there’s an over-reliance on teaching evals (and word to whoever upthread mentioned the hits female faculty take on evals).

  26. Perpetua on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    PS. I should note that I’ve taught 12 new classes in just under 6 years (not counting the ones that carried over from institution to institution but required significant modification). The only advantage of this kind of constant creation of new courses is that it keeps me casting around the historiographic world in creative ways that affects my research.

  27. Feminist Avatar on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    In answer to the post title question – and perhaps I am being wonderfully optimistic – I think that research has been, at least in the past, a good thing for women in the academy. It is our capacity to produce fabulous research that we used as a crowbar to get ourselves into the academy; to be taken seriously as scholars.

    Which is not to say that now we are here that our relationship with the academy, with research, with teaching, isn’t shaped by gender.

    Anyway, because I like to beat a dead horse, I think that the purpose of universities in society is to disseminate NEW research. So, that teaching is an essential part of the academic job, because knowledge creation and dissemination for the betterment of society (whatever that means) is what we do. So, therefore, tenure should recognise teaching, as it recognises publications (if perhaps weighted differently), because it is part of the research endeavour- it’s part of the assessment of IMPACT of research on society.

    Now this is a very uni-directional model for research, which is perhaps a bit unfair, in that, I too have had conversation with students that created light-bulbs for me- but I do think this is less important than our teaching as an opportunity for IMPACT- it’s how we change the world (ok clearly I’ve had too much beer, but it is Friday evening my time).

  28. Feminist Dept Chair on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    This is a fascinating discussion, and I’m thinking about it for two reasons. One is that there are colleagues who are planning to vote against tenuring “Jane” — book out from major u press, etc. because there are only a couple of articles. This has me apoplectic, and I’m not looking forward to the meeting next week. And it strikes me that one issue here is that Jane completely reworked a dissertation and did not publish lots of articles — that is, it’s a different model of how you do scholarship. Her book is deeply interdisciplinary — much more complicated to do well. The people who have started making noise publish lots of stuff, but it’s often small — two or three page things. So we get into a quantitative mode, which is nuts. So another question here: is one way that research gets gendered devalueing different models of research?

    I’m also intrigued by Squadrato’s question about teaching feeding research. I wrote a book because a student asked a question I couldn’t answer. But I think for me it would generally be in the way that teaching stimulates me and gets me out of my research ruts. I find that I need to both get deep into a project AND get outside it to do it well, and teaching helps with that.

  29. Notorious Ph.D. on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    heh. You said “tool.”

  30. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Feminist Dept Chair’s story about a colleague whose tenure is in jeopardy because it doesn’t resemble exactly other people’s choices in curating their own careers strikes me as a terrific example of how expectations can guide tenure and promotion decisions even when by the letter and spirit of the law, “Jane” probably has more than enough for tenure. (I have no idea what the tenure standards in that department are, but I’m guessing that a peer-reviewed monograph plus articles is a model that has succeeded before.)

    I think Fem Dept Chair’s question–is one way that research gets gendered devalueing different models of research?–is very important, and it’s kind of the corollary to Dr. Crazy’s observations about good teaching and gender way upthread. There is a ranking and gendering of different kinds of work within these categories.

    As to the question itself: I agree that interdisciplinary work isn’t valued the way that “traditional” disciplinary work is. And it seems to me that it’s people who come from women’s studies, ethnic studies, LGBTQ studies, or American Studies (for example) who do more interdisciplinary work. The result is that there are a lot of nonwhite/nonmale/nonstraight people whose work is questioned or scrutinized for its value and significance when straightforward disciplinary work passes muster merely with the invocation “it’s peer reviewed.”

  31. Perpetua on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    It sounds to me like the members of Fem Dept Chair’s own department don’t know what its tenure standards are. Which to me highlights the major issue with tenure and discrimination in every iteration of the conversation we’ve had (and over at TR too).

  32. koshem Bos on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Targeting irrelevance, in the more precise sciences, research means: bring in grants and big ones. It means nothing else. You can be male and female or both, you still are smiled at with a lot of grant money.

    If you bring a lot of money, you get tenured even if you sleep with a student(s). (Gender makes no difference.)

    Publications are important and they should be in top journals; their quality doesn’t matter. Published crap is published.

    The rich win again.

  33. rustonite on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Two things:

    First, the simplest/funniest explanation I’ve ever seen of how seemingly neutral subjects are actually gendered: http://xkcd.com/385/

    Second, this stuff trickles down into how grad students are acculturated. Most of the advice I’ve gotten for teaching while writing my dissertation has boiled down to “don’t do anything that might indicate you like teaching, because then you’ll never get a job.”

  34. quixote on 18 Feb 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Maybe this is a Sciences / Humanities thing, but shouldn’t money be part of the discussion as well as gender?

    In my experience, research is not evaluated on the merits. (The exceptions I’ve seen have been at the top flight Ivies, which is probably directly related to their top flightness.) It’s evaluated by number of publications and prestige of journal. But even more, way more, faculty are evaluated by the size of grants they pull in. Research significance is pretty much irrelevant. If there’s a lot of money, it’ll be declared significant. Needless to say at Historiann’s place, the gendering of who gets the big bucks flows the same way as all the other privileges.

    As for the role of teaching in tenure, let’s just say I see this vision of the Grand Old Men nudging one another. “Hey, Joe, get the secretary to look this up, will you? Something called ‘teaching.’”

    (And one more note re “Clarissa.” About those Soviet doctors and the shift in prestige when it went from male to female, if you’re not aware of that, it throws doubt on your assertion that you know something about the situation. I grew up in a Russian family, speak Russian, and visited the Soviet Union in the bad old days. My grandmother had been a medical professional before the Communists rolled in. The difference in prestige was stark, obvious, and highly gendered. It’s also been discussed in studies for decades. Try Google Scholar. It’s that easy to find.)

  35. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Great point about the dough-re-mi, quixote. It’s so inextricable from those of you who work in the sciences.

  36. othersideofthepond on 18 Feb 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Great discussion. I work in a faculty with a huge gender problem. And time and time again women get put in the teaching- and undergraduate-related admin roles (our version of “service”) and the men get the high-status roles related to research and postgraduates.

    In terms of teaching feeding research, I liked the line in a colleague’s acknowledgments: “Like all good books, this started life as an undergraduate course.” I find the only way I can get research-related reading done is to structure a course around it – and am lucky enough to work in an institution where teaching is research-led and we have a lot of latitude about what we teach. So if I’m thinking of working on a new project, the first thing I do is run an undergraduate unit on it, so I have to prioritise reading the literature.

  37. Feminist Dept Chair on 18 Feb 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    @ Historiann, Just to be clear, I think Jane *will* get tenure, but the vote will be divided, and the discussion may be nasty. And it’s because she is Jane, not John, I think.

  38. Historiann on 18 Feb 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Fem Dept Chair: that’s good. Maybe your colleagues can alert each other to the bias that some bring? Gently, of course, unless beatings become necessary until morale improves.

  39. nemo52 on 18 Feb 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Check out “Mothering in the Academy,” in Listening to Silences: New Essays in Feminist Criticism, eds. Shelley Fisher Fishkin and Elaine Hedges. Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 225-244. This article brings forth a lot of ways in which teaching, committee work and other facets of the profession are gendered.

  40. truffula on 18 Feb 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Late to the discussion but I just have to challenge koshem bos on this:

    Targeting irrelevance, in the more precise sciences, research means: bring in grants and big ones. It means nothing else. You can be male and female or both, you still are smiled at with a lot of grant money.

    I am female, I outspend all but one other person in my (science) department, and I am acutely aware that my sex and my status as a mother affect how I am perceived by administrators. I am also aware that to call anybody out on this, as the dudes do whey they feel disrespected, would do me no good.

    We had a department meeting with a new VP this week. He knows who the h*ll I am because he reads the f*cking spreadsheets, it’s his job. He knows, on paper, my value, as he does the value of every other person (all dudes) at the table. When we go around the group introducing ourselves, he asks the more lucrative dudes for further details about the money and agencies and whatnot. He asks me “you have twins, don’t you?”

  41. Z on 18 Feb 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    I find that teaching fuels research, for the sort of reason that Perpetua and Feminist Department Chair give.

    We turned someone down for tenure in this century because of teaching. And we were right to do so.

  42. Western Dave on 18 Feb 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Historiann’s observation about interdisciplinary work and mutlicultural and queer studies work being valued less is certainly true in my former sub-discipline of US History of the American West. Despite all the calls for multicultural work, I’m hard pressed to think of a successful scholar who did truly multi-ethnic work. Most of those folks have been shuttled to the more marginal jobs, or didn’t get jobs at all. The most successful folks in my generation of scholars did one thing (bi-cultural but not multicultural) but not many things, and I don’t even want to talk about traditional vs. non-traditional divisions of labor in households or gender privilege. For all the talk about what the field needed, it promoted same old, same old.

  43. Notorious Ph.D. on 18 Feb 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Anecdote alert:

    As second reader on one of the exam committees (students take two) of a borderline M.A. student (nice guy, tried hard, didn’t really have the intellectual juice to be in the program), the advisor, who was acting as first reader on both exams, was telling me how nurturing the other second reader (another female prof, retired/emerita) was toward this struggling student — I think to provide me with a counter-example of how to better help this student. He didn’t use the word “nurturing.” Nope, what he said was, “[Student] needs some mothering.”

    I was, and continue to be, deficient in this quality.

  44. Ruth on 18 Feb 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    I am not sure that teaching is gendered feminine. Lecturing to a large crowd can be a very masculine thing. Anecdote: In one of the first searches I ever had the chance to vote on as a faculty member (this puts it back in the late 80s) the two top candidates were a man and a woman. A member of the department said in support of the man that he would be the better lecturer because of his “commanding presence.” This guy was well over six feet with a deep voice: yeah, granted, it will be easier for him to get students to see him as an authority figure than a petite, “cute”-looking woman.

    Completely irrelevant tangent: I was of course too timid to say anything about it in the meeting, but I brought the comment up afterwards with the colleague who had made it. He said that “commanding presence” was not code for “masculine,” and he cited a female colleague who was an excellent lecturer and had a commanding presence. He was right on both counts (although not about the general principle of it not being code). Said female colleague is now the president of a major university not a million miles from Boston.

    But I think the principle still holds. The “sage on the stage” model of teaching requires a kind of authority that students are more likely to associate with masculinity than femininity. Lecturers aren’t supposed to be nurturing. It has to do with age too, as well as gender: I think the fact that my teaching evaluations have improved over the years is only in part because I have become a better teacher, and due also in part to the fact that students are much more willing to take an older woman as authoritative than a younger one. That is true of men as well, but less so. (Of course there’s another way of saying “authoritative woman” that rhymes with “witch.”)

  45. Indyanna on 18 Feb 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Teaching isn’t really valued at BSU, teaching evals are. We “observe” each other in the classroom relentlessly and write formulaic laudatory reports as a counterbalance to often (and predictably) negative evals from gen. ed. students who don’t like being forced to take a Tupolev-era crash-prone course so the department can “make its numbers” with the suits, credit-hour wise. (Talk about Soviet). It generally works.

    I was skeptical about the (also formulaic) book acknowledgment trope to the tune that “this book began in the undergraduate classroom.” But I have to say that one ad lib extended riff I launched into some years ago in a survey course when it was really no time to be riffing did in fact change the underlying direction of a whole swathe of my research that continues to this day. So I’m less skeptical now.

  46. Ruth on 18 Feb 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    @Notorious: I have always thought of myself as maternal toward my graduate students. It’s the combination of unsolicited advice (or nagging, depending how you want to look at it) and being willing to put in a lot of effort to help them reach their potential. Nurturing really doesn’t enter into it. On second thought, maybe it’s just that I’m advisorly toward my kids.

  47. Notorious Ph.D. on 19 Feb 2011 at 1:04 am #

    Fair point, Ruth.

  48. Tony Grafton on 19 Feb 2011 at 5:17 am #

    I wonder how much the separation of research from teaching has to with the specialization of research in the humanities. In the past, any number of groundbreaking books came right out of teaching: Michael Baxandall’s Painting and experience in fifteenth century Italy, Butterfield’s Origins of modern science, Darnton’s Great cat massacre. Lisa Jardine and I wrote a book together in the late 70s and early 80s that came right out of our teaching. Has that become less practical? Or is it happening in new, interdisciplinary fields where the landscape hasn’t been obscured by thickets of secondary literature?

  49. Comrade PhysioProf on 19 Feb 2011 at 6:03 am #

    Very interesting idea about the “gendering” of research and teaching. In medical schools–where classroom teaching is just simply 100% irrelevant to promotion and tenure and institutional prestige–a similar dichotomy is between research and clinical activities of physician-scientist faculty, who perform both research and clinical activities.

    There is a greater prestige to be a member of a basic science department and have substantial external grant support that enables faculty with MDs to limit their clinical activities and focus on research. Those faculty whose grant support is more modest or languishing are pushed harder and harder into clinical activities so as to make up for the lost research revenue. Those faculty with massive grant portfolios who only appear on the wards once a month or so to pontificate at grand rounds are perceived as “manly men with massive schlongs”, while those with paltry grant support who are pulling all-nighters on-call to support their salaries, are perceived as “girly men”.

    (This dichotomy doesn’t exist for medical school faculty who are solely PhDs, for obvious reasons, although there is an overwhelming dicke-measuring culture of “how massive is your grant support”. I recently received an outstanding peer-review score on a new sizable NIH grant, and I could literally feel my pants swelling!)

  50. Bil Kerrigan on 19 Feb 2011 at 7:24 am #

    These conversations tend to be dominated by the dominant view at elite schools and state schools, where the research first values have seeped down into, despite heavy teaching loads. I work at a non-elite liberal arts college, and teaching comes first. People are denied tenure when the evidence suggests that their teaching or commitment to teaching is abysmal. Research expectations are real, but given the heavy teaching load, the bar is lower. Nonetheless, I have been on and chaired the tenure committee, and debates about tenure very often do become all about research, because the stated standard for research is a more objective one, while the standard for teaching is extremely subjective. By objective, I mean that the evaluation of research comes down to numbers. Does the candidate have the requisite number of published peer reviewed articles? (Assessment of the quality of those is only a minor part of the discussion. The committee includes scholars from a diverse range of disciplines.). On the other hand, what constitutes teaching that is “distinctive,” or “exceptional?”

    I’ve never considered teaching and research “gendered,” and I frankly don ‘t buy that argument.

  51. Bil Kerrigan on 19 Feb 2011 at 8:02 am #

    squadratomagico,

    I would say that my teaching enhances my writing in a very significant way. It forces me to find clear and direct ways to express complicated ideas. It constantly presses me to consider what significance my scholarship might have to people beyond the small, narrow group of scholars doing work similar to mine who will have no trouble seeing its significance. Teaching broad surveys forces me to take the long view, and gives me a clearer sense of where my research fits into the bigger picture.

  52. Bil Kerrigan on 19 Feb 2011 at 8:04 am #

    squadratomagico,

    I would say that my teaching enhances my writing in a very significant way. It forces me to find clear and direct ways to express complicated ideas. It constantly presses me to consider what significance my scholarship might have to people beyond the small, narrow group of scholars doing work similar to mine who will have no trouble seeing its significance. Teaching broad surveys forces me to take the long view, and gives me a clearer sense of where my research fits into the bigger picture.

    Research enhances my teaching primarily in the area of providing valuable feedback to students on their own research projects. It has a less direct impact on what goes on in my classroom.

  53. LadyProf on 19 Feb 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Mr. Kerrigan doesn’t believe teaching and research are gendered. He frankly doesn’t buy the argument raised here. If I were a Bil, I’d probably feel the same way. Gender would be all about my unmerited privilege–so I’d have every incentive not to notice it.

    What deniers of sexism never seem to grasp is that we victims of it really, really don’t want to spend our time pointing out injustices. They seem to think that we’re just being idle and self-indulgent. But we have work to do. Those of us in the academy would like to focus on our research and teaching–much of which has nothing overtly to do with gender–and be treated fairly. And we’d like our female colleagues and students to get a fair shake.

  54. truffula on 19 Feb 2011 at 11:33 am #

    I have found for the small set of academic departments in which I have personal experience, that the men have a different perception of how egalitarian it all is than do the women. It must be said that in my field female faculty are outnumbered 5 to 1 or more and it may be that in fields where women are better represented, things are different. That said, my colleagues profess to be liberal- minded social progressives but my observations of their behavior do not uniformly support that view.

  55. Sensible on 19 Feb 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    [De-lurking] As a counterpoint to both the elite schools narrative *and* Bil Kerigan: I teach at a very teaching-oriented institution– so teaching oriented that there are no publication requirements. We can fulfill the scholarly component of our tenure portfolio by “remaining active.” The institution was founded by nuns and continues to expect the same kind of devotion from faculty as a religious order expects from its members, despite having disaffiliated from the Church 30+ years ago.

    It’s more complicated than just one thing, but as a female faculty member, negative comments on my student evals consistently assume that being a good female teacher means being “nurturing.” In my more bitter moments, I think “nurturing according to the self-sacrificing model of the institution founders.” There is a completely different standard for men teaching at the institution. (Being a faculty member of color adds a whole other, ugly dimension.)

    In thinking about responses to my male colleagues’ teaching, I do think it’s important to note that the sexism is coming both from the institution (imbedded in the ways that it measures and recognizes contributions) and from the students (captured in the ways they respond to faculty authority and expectations).

    In terms of my experience outside the classroom, my colleagues who have been at the institution 15+ years are generally suspicious of my desire to do research and frame it as being harmful to or a distraction from my teaching.

  56. Bil Kerrigan on 19 Feb 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    LadyProf,

    That’s an amazing leap you make! From an expression of skepticism about the idea that teaching is perceived to a “female” and research “male” to the label “denier of sexism.” I hope the reasoning in your scholarship is built on sounder ground.

    Sensible,

    Your specific example regarding the expectations of how a female professor should be (“nurturing”) is no doubt there. I can recall specific comments from my female colleagues from administrators that are similar.

    My general skepticism of the female/teaching male/research dichotomy is based on the reality that there are so many different ways to teach effectively. I teach in a department out outstanding teachers, 50% female and 50% male, each of whom employs different style of teaching, but is very good at what they do. If you were to posit that the male members were teaching in a certain way (say, doing the “sage on the stage” lecture style, for example), while the female members were teaching in a different way (say student-centered discussion) you’d find your hypothesis wouldn’t stand up to testing.

    Am I denying that male and female professors often face different expectations and standards as the result of sexism? Of course not. I’m simply expressing skepticism about a particularly reductive generalization.

    And regarding the assertion by some on this board that women do worse on student evaluations than men, that hasn’t been my experience. The faculty with the highest mean scores on student evaluations in my division are all women. (Note to LadyProf–this is not to be read as any kind of assertion about the validity/invalidity of student evaluations as measurements of teaching effectiveness.)

  57. Comrade PhysioProf on 19 Feb 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    I hope the reasoning in your scholarship is built on sounder ground.

    Oy, vey.

  58. JackDanielsBlack on 19 Feb 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    CPP, how can success at sucking at the public teat make one’s pants swell? Why not try making an honest living? Might do wonders for your libido.

    JackDanielsBlack

  59. Western Dave on 19 Feb 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    @Bil
    Bil and I were colleagues at Michigan and he helped me a ton my first year; his last. He knows all about sexism in elite departments (Carol Karlsen having to sue to get tenure at Michigan ring a bell with anybody?) His argument is that at a small, non-elite institution that is teaching first, teaching is less likely to be gendered. I think there is going to be huge variation by school or even department on this depending on local culture.

  60. Z on 19 Feb 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Good point CPP re medical schools.

    And, voyez-vous tous, see how it’s about gender not sex in some instances, and both in others, etc.?

    *

    Re teaching contributing to research — it does for me in the indirect way Historiann describes above.

    Where I went to school, some courses were a really famous professor reading from the mss. of his (it was only men who dared do this) next blockbuster book. We’d go and comment, which helped these guys, but it was also genuinely fun to know what they were working on and see someone work ideas through.

    Of course my teaching doesn’t contribute to research in that way. I’m happy enough to get to teach a class or so each term that has something to do with my research or research field. Then, explaining things to people who aren’t familiar with the area, I do fairly often get “light bulb” type moments.

    I also have a book I want to write that comes directly from a course I taught; the course was invented as a way to sell a new program, so it was just this out of the blue sort of thing. If I get the time to do this book, it will be a good book.

  61. Z on 19 Feb 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    P.S. I’ve had Sensible’s experience, albeit at institutions somewhat more research oriented. Where things change, I note, are at institutions which are outright research oriented; there one can sometimes outrun this phenomenon.

    Unlike Bil, my bet is that teaching, for ladder faculty, gets less gendered at more elite institutions. Why, though? … because so much teaching, especially of the trench-like kind, is done by TAs, adjuncts, and also instructors and lecturers (who tend to be women, and that is where the gendering takes place).

  62. Z on 19 Feb 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    P.P.S. You know, given the content of this post I might change the title, substituting the word “teaching” for “research.”

    What higher research requirements do, I think, isn’t support the sexist status quo but the apolitical one. Every minute you put into working on shared governance, etc., is a minute that should go to research, and yadda yadda.

  63. Bil Kerrigan on 19 Feb 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    This is an interesting discussion, but I think part of the problem is that there is some talking past each other about the meaning of the phrase “teaching is gendered.” I think Sensible’s point that male and female professors often confront different expectations about the kind of teacher they should be is true. And reminds me of an experience at my current institution when I was hired fourteen years ago. During an interview with the now long-retired college President he told me with startling directness that I was not to sleep with my students. When I told this story to an incoming female faculty member the next fall, she told me that in her interview with the President there was no discussion of sexual relations with students, but he did tell her she could bake cookies for her students if she wanted to.

    Good to reconnect with you @Dave. I hope all is going well.

  64. LadyProf on 20 Feb 2011 at 1:12 am #

    CPP, thanks for the support!

    Bil, maybe I wasn’t clear to you, but what I meant to say is that both research AND teaching are gendered in the academy. I thought you were disagreeing.

    Western Dave, even in a small non-elite school that emphasizes teaching you’ll smell the reek of gender …

    but yeah, the more everybody is doing the same thing, and the less hierarchy your uni worships (research male & potent on top, teaching girly & nurturing below), the less gender bias you’ll have to live with.

  65. Comrade PhysioProf on 20 Feb 2011 at 10:16 am #

    CPP, how can success at sucking at the public teat make one’s pants swell? Why not try making an honest living?

    Yeah, dude. Pursuing federally funded biomedical research so that greedy selfish pig-ignorant slobs like you don’t have to suffer and die in excruciating pain and misery is totally “sucking at the public teat”.

    Oh, and by the way, if I believed as you do, I would not be able to sleep at night knowing what a hypocrite I am sucking at the public teat driving on government-funded roads, relying on government-funded police and fire departments to keep me safe, planning on collecting government-funded social security and medicare, relying on government-funded military to maintain our global hegemony that permits our “way of life”, etc. It must be very difficult for you to live in society sucking at the public teat all day every day, knowing what a hypocrite you are for not living by yourself in the woods and refusing that government teat you never take out of your mouth.

    The sad thing is that greedy ingorant pigs like you buy into extremist far-right-wing propaganda that serves the interests of only the wealthiest tippy-top of American society, and has the effect of fucking up your life as badly as it does the lives of those you have been indoctrinated into hating.

  66. Historiann on 20 Feb 2011 at 10:38 am #

    It is probably too crude to suggest in all cases that teaching is in all cases gendered female and that research activity is in all cases gendered male. Several commenters have pointed out interesting exceptions–I think Ruth’s point about lecturing in a large lecture hall is an interesting example of how some teaching activities might be seen as more masculine than others. And as CPP and others have noted, there’s research and there’s research that’s funded by tumescent prestigious grants. So there is a gendered hierarchy embedded within these activities that is probably recognizable to many of you. (It certainly is to me.)

    Allow me to explain the reasons I advanced the argument about the gendering of teaching, one that is indeed built mostly on my observations from a career spent not in elite institutions but in institutions that as Bil suggests ultimately value research over teaching. I was educated at a SLAC and taught for one semester at an elite SLAC, but my guess is that those SLACs make their T & P decisions more along the lines of my institution than Bil’s institution.

    Even if one rejects my argument that the reason academia values research over teaching may be that it is gendered male while teaching is gendered female, I don’t think there’s a good argument that gender is irrelevant when students, peers, and administrators evaluate the work we do in teaching, research, and service. Anyone who has read course evaluations of male and female faculty together knows that women are held to much higher standards for their teaching than the men are. Traits that might be viewed as personality quirks in men–how they dress, speech patterns, some accents, etc.–are routinely raised in women’s evaluations and considered reasonable standards by which their teaching is evaluated by students and peers alike.

    Because more women get pushed around in their teaching evaluations, and because peers often expect female collegues to respond more to these reviews than they expect their male colleagues, some women faculty end up spending more time and paying more attention to their teaching. They may also continue to publish enough to win tenure in the end, but I think teaching frequently becomes a stick with which to beat women faculty in particular, and they can’t win: if they don’t respond to “concerns” about their teaching they’ll get $hitcanned, and if they do respond like good girls and try to “fix” their personality quirks, wardrobe, and teaching style to suit their students and peers, they risk diverting too much time away from their research agendas. The result is that the differential expectations we have collectively of female versus male faculty end up reproducing themselves (because women are punished for not living up to these expectations) and continuing the gendering of teaching as female. So I think Z makes a great point when she writes, “You know, given the content of this post I might change the title, substituting the word ‘teaching’ for ‘research.’” It’s not just the existence of research, it’s the hierarchy of research over teaching coupled with the cultural and institutional pressure for women to care more and work harder on their teaching than men.

    We see this gendering of work roles in other fields beyond academia, of course. Why is it that there are more women in Marketing and Public Relations than there are in Finance and Management? Why is it that there are more women in primary care medicine than there are in the lucrative surgical sub-specialities? I didn’t think it would be so shocking or daring to suggest that we might have a similar phenomenon in colleges and universities.

    What’s interesting to me is that the discussion here has focused on debating the gendering of teaching, and few here have mentioned the gendering of research. This means that most of you agree with me that that research is gendered male and that that might help explain its relative worth in our careers and in T & P decisions. Research is an opportunity for individual achievement attained through the objective standards of peer review, whereas teaching is more about collaborative work and building relationships. (Or so the script goes.)

  67. Weekend roundup: Operation crashdown edition : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 20 Feb 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    [...] and citizens too.  We’ve been rhetorically reduced to ”welfare queens” “sucking at the public teat” as though our work has no value, as though we’re not paying our freight, and as though [...]

  68. JackDanielsBlack on 20 Feb 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    “The sad thing is that greedy ingorant pigs like you buy into extremist far-right-wing propaganda that serves the interests of only the wealthiest tippy-top of American society”

    Gosh, CPP, don’t you think you should thank me for helping folks like tippy-toppy li’l ole’ you? Definition of a hypocrite — someone who lives at the top but talks like he’s from the bottom — that’s CPP!

  69. JackDanielsBlack on 20 Feb 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    “It is probably too crude to suggest in all cases that teaching is in all cases gendered female and that research activity is in all cases gendered male.”

    Historiann, does this mean that you owe Clarissa an apology? I think so.

  70. Historiann on 20 Feb 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    HA-ha. Sorry, Jack–no apologies from me. I didn’t insult anyone or call names. I write in good faith here, and I expect commenters to do the same. I don’t mind if people disagree with me–but I’ve written about this before and we’ve had a lot of conversations about these issues before based on real people’s real career experiences.

    If someone finds what I write here “deeply offensive” and then proceeds to categorically reject other commenters’ efforts to educate hir on things she may not have personal experience with yet BECAUSE she hasn’t yet personally had those experiences–well, I can’t do anything with that.

  71. Z on 20 Feb 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    @CPP – you go.

    @Historiann – exactly: “I think teaching frequently becomes a stick with which to beat women faculty in particular, and they can’t win: if they don’t respond to “concerns” about their teaching they’ll get $hitcanned, and if they do respond like good girls and try to “fix” their personality quirks, wardrobe, and teaching style to suit their students and peers, they risk diverting too much time away from their research agendas.”

    Research gendered male, yes. Funny how I hadn’t thought about that in those terms. But it does explain all the comments I’ve always gotten: you don’t really want to do that, do you … don’t you think that’s a little hard for you … actually, it reminds me of peoples’ reaction much earlier, when I didn’t have trouble with math!

  72. Historiann on 20 Feb 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Z–I think it probably does explain a lot about your career! A lot of our careers, actually.

  73. JackDanielsBlack on 20 Feb 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Historiann, Clarissa has her experience, you have your experience, who is to say which is more valid? And then to insinuate that she is perhaps a guy because she doesn’t agree with you — seems a little over the top to me. The least you could do is respect her and her experience. How about a little sisterhood?

  74. Historiann on 20 Feb 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Jack, please re-read the exchange. I don’t doubt Clarissa’s experience at all. I take her at her word. I merely said that someone presenting the same ideas and asking the same questions about Feminism 101 on this blog under a man’s name wouldn’t have been treated so earnestly by my commenters.

  75. Dr. Crazy on 20 Feb 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I think it’s awesome when men tell women that they should demonstrate their sisterhood when they dare to disagree with a woman with the man’s support. I mean, how dare women disagree with other women? Or with people generally? And not feel the need to apologize for doing so? Women like that are clearly not only lacking in femininity but also lacking in feminist commitment. It’s a shame, really, that women like that don’t realize that they’re not autonomous subjects with agency. Truly unfortunate.

  76. JackDanielsBlack on 20 Feb 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Historiann, forgive me — I guess what you really said was that because of the nature of her comments, she should be treated like a guy — that is, ignored!

  77. It’s still hard to “go ahead” as a woman: talking about gender discrimination « ladyelocutionist on 20 Feb 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    [...] in a maddening catch-22.  I’ll let you read all about it over at Historiann, who asks “Is research a tool for maintaining the sexist status quo in academic departments?“  Check out the comments section too.  I haven’t been on a search committee or up [...]

  78. Z on 20 Feb 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    @Historiann – it explains a heck of a lot, the more I think about it, including my dread around basic teaching – . Very interesting.

    (When I was much younger than I am now I thought I had outrun sexism or could. However, closer to the truth is that I didn’t know how to recognize it when it happened to me.)

  79. Z on 20 Feb 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    @Historiann – it explains a heck of a lot, the more I think about it, including my dread around basic teaching – . Very interesting.

    (When I was much younger than I am now I thought I had outrun sexism or could. However, closer to the truth is that I didn’t know how to recognize it when it happened to me.)

    @Jack – you’re going to have to try harder. There are several men in this conversation…

  80. JackDanielsBlack on 21 Feb 2011 at 4:59 am #

    Z, I was just summarizing what Historiann said — that if you are a woman who makes comments that deviate from the received feminist wisdom as pronounced by the great feminist oracle Historiann, then you should be treated like a guy who does the same and cast into the outer darkness. I assume CPP is a guy (mostly because he’s so obnoxious), but I assume that you are not, due to the nature of your complaints.

    More generally, I think the discussion here lacks nuance and sophistication. Take cooking, for example. Most folks would probably say that cooking is “gendered” female — but not when it comes to chefs! And if college teaching is now “gendered” female, that is probably a byproduct of he progress women have made in this field — 50 or 100 years ago, it would have been “gendered” male.

    And by the way, folks — how do you know I’m a guy? Or are you just assuming that Jack Daniels drinkers are “gendered” male?

  81. Historiann on 21 Feb 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Jack, you’re free to bugger off if you don’t like the discussion here! I’ve never banned you, in spite of your distortions. (And I’ve never banned Clarissa, BTW. She chose to take herself out of the game.)

    I think this thread is dead–no one else need comment or rise to Jack’s bait.

  82. SKM on 21 Feb 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I think this thread is dead

    Oops, I just linked this post in Shakesville’s monday blogaround, so some more readers may swing by. I doubt they would engage Jack, though.

  83. RachelB on 21 Feb 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Hello– here from Shakesville. Currently, I am attending graduate school in English at a public research institution, one of a very few in my cohort who attended a SLAC rather than an Ivy or a research school as an undergraduate.

    The two teachers who ran the best literature discussions during my time as an undergrad did the kind of teaching that I recognize now was time-consuming, the kind frequently described as “nurturing.” They ran small-group paper draft conferences. They varied their seminar classes substantially from term to term, so that being umpteen times more familiar with the texts than their students didn’t tempt them to lecture instead of discussing. And they were incredibly accessible– they were in their offices when they said they would be and offered no visible signs of annoyance at being interrupted. In fact, they were frequently in their offices even when they hadn’t said they would be, and if they were present and not in a meeting, their doors were open. My advisor, who was one of these teachers, read my drafts when I was applying for graduate school. In fact, we’ve stayed in at least intermittent contact since I began graduate school; we trade reading lists and chat occasionally about teaching techniques and professionalization.

    One of those teachers was female; the other (my advisor) was male. Initially, both of them were denied tenure for not publishing enough. In the case of the male teacher, the tenure decision was reversed after he won the school’s Young Teacher of the Year award. I’m grateful that my advisor stayed– he was by far the best fit for me in the department. But it’s always been odd to me that even the SLAC I attended, which ostensibly prized intensive teaching over research, seems to have made it very difficult for teaching-focused professors to get tenure and stay.

    I don’t have enough information about how the tenure process works (even at a single school) to make a solid argument here. But I have heard from a professor at my graduate school, who has been helping advisees through the placement process, that the English department at my SLAC has a reputation as an uncomfortable place for female professors (and, perhaps, extrapolating from my advisor, an uncomfortable place for male professors who are much more nurturing teachers than their male colleagues). And my undergrad advisor has told me in somewhat rueful tones that when I go on the market, departments are going to be looking for an interesting researcher first, a committed teacher a rather distant second, and a collegial and decent person somewhere way on down the road.

  84. lulu on 21 Feb 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    > the received feminist wisdom as pronounced by the great feminist oracle Historiann, >then you should be treated like a guy who does the same and cast into the outer >darkness.

    Posters on feminist blogs lose patience with having to explain Feminism 101 to trolls. Historiann observed that people were being more patient with Clarissa because Clarissa had a female name — that a troll assumed to be male would have been ignored earlier. As I understand it, Historiann actually was telling people NOT to do treat trolls differently and making the point that a troll was a troll. Go back and reread.

    Moreover, Historiann is a blogger, not an oracle. She is a popular blogger and people admire her, yes. But she talks in the language of feminist sociology and theory that many of us know and understand. If you do not understand what we’re talking about, it’s not because everyone else is engaged in hero worship of Historiann. It’s probably because you don’t get it.

    >More generally, I think the discussion here lacks nuance and sophistication. Take >cooking, for example. Most folks would probably say that cooking is “gendered” >female — but not when it comes to chefs! And if college teaching is now >“gendered” female, that is probably a byproduct of he progress women have made >in this field — 50 or 100 years ago, it would have been “gendered” male.

    To many of us, this reads as a rather naive paragraph, and one that suggests you’re not well versed in feminist thinking. That’s okay, but just know that you’re not raising original points here and you’re really not seeing the whole argument. In fact, the gendering of household versus professional cooking is a textbook example of gendered hierarchies … but I’ll let you research that on your own.

    >And by the way, folks — how do you know I’m a guy? Or are you just assuming >that Jack Daniels drinkers are “gendered” male?

    I have no idea what gender you are, but it doesn’t affect my statements. I will say that very often trolls / aggressive newbies on feminist blogs are men who are defensive about their privilege, but that doesn’t mean it’s always true. At any rate, it sounds like this blog won’t be a good experience for you and I suggest you move along.

  85. Conditionally Accepted | Want To Be Successful? Just Publish, “Dude”! on 07 Oct 2013 at 7:52 am #

    […] we continue to advise graduate students in this way, telling them “dude, seriously, publish,” women, on average, will always come up short compared to men.  This is for two reasons.  […]

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