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MITACoach Interview Series- “Contented Post-Ac”

I’m thrilled to be kicking off my interview series today. I’m going to be asking my interviewees six questions about their graduate training, thoughts about their career, and some individual identity and work/life balance questions. I’ve also asked them to write a short professional bio. If you are interested in being interviewed as part of this series please contact me at drjfs71 at gmail dot com. Just as a reminder, you can read more about my academic qualifications, affiliations, and interests here. In other words, I will follow standard academic protocol for maintaining anonymity and will email you exactly what the post will contain before I post it.

My first interviewee has requested to remain anonymous, so I’ll be calling this person Contented Post-Ac. CP-Ac graduated with a PhD from an elite humanities program in the Midwest in the last decade, spent seven years on the job market, and now has a #postac career as a tutor. Contented Post-Ac is a mixed race, heterosexual woman. One of the most striking things about Contented Post-Ac’s experiences is the ways in which her “lack” of a partner or children was seen as advantageous to career advancement by other grad students and faculty in her department, while she was simultaneously discouraged from co-ordinating departmental activities that could give her a sense of community and belonging at her university.

Short professional bio as written by Contented Post-Ac

I graduated with a PhD from an R1, elite humanities program in the Midwest. Following graduation, I worked as a tutor for a large education company and also as an adjunct at a private liberal arts university in the South while publishing and pursuing the TT job search for four years. I then became a university administrator and adjunct at another R1 university while still searching for TT positions. I finally gave up on my academic job search after seven years and now tutor and train tutors for a living. I am hoping to start a consulting business within a year.

1) Why did you decide to pursue a PhD? What was your training like?  Continue reading

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Why is the Academic Pipeline Leaking, and Does that Make You a Drip?

One of the persistent problems with gaining gender equality in academia is the leaky pipeline. The leaky pipeline describes the phenomenon where women make up significant numbers of PhD candidates, but there are progressively smaller percentages of women assistant professors, then associate professors, then full professors. Fewer women full professors mean that there are fewer female deans, provosts and presidents of colleges and universities. A failure to recruit and retain female faculty on the tenure track means that there will be a gender imbalance in terms of university leadership. The leaky pipeline has also been used to describe a similar issue with the recruitment and retention of faculty of color, who are also found in decreasing levels in higher university appointments.

Mary Ann Mason calls this the “pyramid problem,” and directly relates it to female faculty having children: “There are far fewer women than men at the top of the academic hierarchy; those women are paid somewhat less than men, and they are much less likely then men to have had children.” Citing the AAUP’s 2006 gender-equity indicators report, Mason catalogs startling statistics about women in our profession. Continue reading