Monday, January 29, 2007

Spare me the Snark

Dude, Where's My Enlightenment decided to take me to task for my post on the hidden costs of female professors because my post is purely anecdotal and because I don't present the "data" backing up my claims that women, due to gender discrimination, suffer more "challenging" students while equally being called upon to nurture said students. Wiseacre writes:

The post claims that much of this has been studied and documented but doesn't cite any of it and the post is based entirely on anecdotal evidence. I'm going to do the politically incorrect thing here and call bullshit on this kind of armchair feminist speculating. Now, I don't know what studies she's referring to, but I'd like to know if they took into account syllabi and experiences like mine into account. Young instructors and nontenured professors are all subject to stress, anxiety, fatigue, etc. more than tenured faculty. I'm dubious of the claim that young, non-tenured, female professors experience more of this than their male peers.

Fair enough. I didn't dutifully produce a bibliography of the studies, data and scholarship on this question. In my defense, it is a blog. But, sense Wiseacre reasons from his own experience that men and women are equally burdened, and hence denies gender discrimination in Academia, I will link to some helpful resources:

1. Chilly Climate for Women Faculty in Academe (website with useful bibliography).
2. Women-Related Higher Education Sites (links to reports from AAUP, National Academy of Sciences, Association for Women in Science,
3. National Council for Research on Women (sponsored by AAC&U, references to studies such as how gender influences classroom dynamics)
4. Gender and Student Evaluations of Teaching, Political Science and Politics, Kristi Andersen and Elizabeth D. Miller (on JSTOR).
5. Who Will Do the Science of the Future? (National Academy of the Sciences Report).
6. WaPo article on Ben Barres (reporting on Nature Article).
7. Why So Slow? Virginia Valian.
8. Women in Science, Yu Xie and Kimberlee Shauman (Harvard UP)

I have to go teach, so this is the best I could come up with for the moment. But, I am sure readers out there can add more references.

While I wrote my post in an anecdotal, personal way, I foolishly thought that by now most people are aware of the growing body of literature substantiating my core claim. I thought it was as untrivial as African Americans are subject to racial profiling. Hence, my aim was not to rehearse all the research out there on this issue, but to give a personal account of women's experiences in the classroom.

I should also note that while I do believe that women experience all sorts of gender discrimination in higher ed, that doesn't mean I don't think faculty at large universities aren't overburdened, overworked, or just plain screwed over by the system. I can easily see how Wiseacre gets challenged by students, is overworked by the administration etc., but this does not lead me to conclude that women aren't suffering from gender discrimination. To reach that conclusion would require studies and comparing apples to apples.