Tag Archives: career women

Identity, Intersection, and Collision

by: Kathryn Kay Coquemont

India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” is a symbolic anthem communicating that people (particularly those from the Black/African American community) are more than the social identities we use as labels. She sings, “I am not my hair / I am not this skin / I am not your expectations, no / I am not my hair / I am not this skin / I am the soul that lives within”. Although many found these lyrics empowering, others were quick to point out that systemic oppression often does relegate people of color to embody a single dimensional identity. As a woman of color, my permitted identity is often determined by those with more privilege and power than I have. Every day, I navigate the world trying to determine if my racial or my gender identity is more salient in the current space I inhabit. I can only imagine and listen to stories about how much more difficult it is for women with additional marginalized identities to cope with social expectations. Continue reading Identity, Intersection, and Collision

Feminist Pet Peeves-Part II (video version)

by Jennifer R. Keup

Back in November of 2014, I wrote a piece for this blog that represented a brief departure from the important posts and exchanges about equity, leadership, and feminism that take place in this forum. The piece was a satirical “rant” on the day-to-day feminist struggles and reminders of the gendered nature of our social systems and interpersonal habits. You all indulged me with that post, so I hope another one along those lines but with video clips will similarly capture your interest. As such, here is the second installation in the occasional series meant to highlight “feminist pet peeves.”

Double standards: When I first saw this advertisement for Pantene, I was absolutely, tears-in-my-eyes, and goosebumps-on-my-arms blown away. It so perfectly captured all of the terrible and persistent double standards that women face in general and that seem to be exponentially greater for women in leadership roles. I know that I have personally experienced several of these “delightful” labels and, even at my strongest and most empowered moments, they have taken a toll upon my psyche (you can imagine what they have done to me in moments when I struggle with imposter syndrome). Language is powerful. So, it is important that we use it to advance messages of equity and not reinforce double standards.

Unequal pay: Sadly, whether in the board room or on the soccer pitch women are still systematically paid less than men. There is a school of thought that this is due largely to different career decisions that are correlated with gender. However, the pay differential typically persists even when men and women are in the same position, possess equivalent professional credentials, and have followed a similar pathway to their leadership role. We have work to do so that we can stop “celebrating” Equal Pay Day each year in early April as the day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year.

“Like a girl”: When did doing something “like a girl” become an insult? I am not sure when I noticed this phenomenon but it seems to have been a troubling and consistent theme for the several decades of my lifetime. Should we consider it a sad form of progress that women’s performance on athletic fields, classrooms, clubs, and board rooms went from unnoticed to acknowledged but “lesser than”? Further, it seems as if there is no quicker and more effective insult to a man than to tell him he does anything “like a girl.” It is my dream that my sons may someday hear this term and think of the towering female role models in our society today (and maybe their mom too) and say “thanks!”

Feminist as a “dirty” word: As I mentioned earlier, language is powerful. So, I understand people’s caution at the labels they choose and use for themselves. However, I am baffled by how often individuals at all points on the gender spectrum shun the word “feminist.” A quick look at dictionary.com identifies its definition as “advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.” While it may denote a degree of agency and responsibility, there doesn’t seem to be anything innately offensive, upsetting, or even exclusive about the term. I agree with Justin Trudeau’s, Prime Minister of Canada, statement in this video: we need to keep using this word until there is no reaction other than “of course!”

So, there you have it, my feminist friends. Now it’s your turn. Share some of your favorite video clips that highlight your feminist pet peeves or feature inspiring messages about equity and empowerment. We welcome your comments!

Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: Intergenerational Feminism Starts at Home

This is the third post in a series contributed by Susan Albertine, Senior Fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

This blog post started as a conversation with my daughter. About three years ago, I asked my daughter about feminism. She, Hannah, had just finished her first year of college. Prime time for a mother to swoop in and take temperature. Let’s be more precise. Second-wave feminist mom who at age 43 gave birth to her daughter descends on wary daughter after year one of college, bearing annoying questions. I could easily have been her grandmother, but she was under no obligation to extend me that courtesy.

I took the risk. Note: I am often too direct for my own good. Indeed, the conversation was awkward. Asked about the word feminism, Hannah said, “That’s your generation. I don’t know a single person who says she’s a feminist.” She said it genially, with a gleam in her eye. It put me in mind of her baby self, beaming with love, looking me straight in the eye, opening wide her adorable little mouth, and biting me. Her young adult conversations retain both their affection and their teeth. I felt it, but I was ready. Then followed ruminations.

Continue reading Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: Intergenerational Feminism Starts at Home

Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: Equity and Leadership

This is the second post in a series contributed by Susan Albertine, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

In the months since I last wrote for #SAFeminist, we’ve seen racial, ethnic, and sex-gender violence continue to flare across the country, on campuses, and in communities. For some of us, this unrest seems new, a different turn of events. Others of us–I among them–hear and feel the past echoing in the present. Many of us recognize a high-publicity phase of conditions that have simmered, boiled, and exploded all along. Perspective matters here.

Regardless of one’s experience, regardless of the ways one recognizes origins and continuity, social unrest now is impossible to miss. Reading an opinion piece by Danielle Allen, a political philosopher at Princeton, I found myself stunned by empathy when Allen describes—in a single sentence—a moment of continuity in her life. She says, “I, too, was called ‘n-‘ on campus in the lovely, deep late-night dark of Princeton in the spring of 1993.” That sentence haunts me. It is an experience I, as a white woman, have never known. But for a moment I felt a pulse of familiarity. It was not the full actuality, which is beyond my grasp. Still I felt breath and heartbeat for a moment. Thinking about equitable leadership for this #SAFeminist blog post, with that sentence ringing in my ears, I realize what I need to say. Continue reading Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: Equity and Leadership

The Gift of Saying “No” to Others and “Yes” to Yourself

by: Jennifer R. Keup

The week of Thanksgiving, I sat in my regular yoga studio listening to my instructor begin the class with a statement of intentions for our 90 minutes together. Much to my surprise she shared the following: “Thanksgiving is the time when we might expect to engage in a practice with the intention of ‘gratitude.’ While I certainly support the idea and practice of gratitude, I would rather spend our time on the intention of setting appropriate boundaries. By saying ‘no’ to family members, to food, to holiday obligations, or to other things, we are often saying ‘yes’ to ourselves in the healthiest of ways.”

Namaste?

Continue reading The Gift of Saying “No” to Others and “Yes” to Yourself

Who’s Lucky: Choices about Primary Parenting

by: Jodi Koslow Martin

An alternate title for this entry is ” What’s Taking So Flipping Long?”  Let me explain.

In 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote an article in The Atlantic titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” This article sparked a great deal of debate and dialogue among professional women and was certainly a point of discussion for the founding authors of this blog. Recently, Ms. Slaughter’s spouse, Andrew Moravcsik, added his own entry into the same periodical, which was titled “Why I Put My Wife’s Career First.” As you can guess from the title, it was a personal reflection of the choices that the two-career couple made with respect to the ever elusive balancing act of raising kids and having a meaningful careers.

As you can imagine, this article elicited some strong responses from the women in our group, especially from me. My reaction was this…of course there’s a lead parent! Sometimes, there’s even only one parent. We’ve all known this. It seems as if it’s taking a really long time to finally realize it’s OK if it’s a male lead parent. Like a really long time. And, apparently, it takes a Princeton professor to say, “It’s okay, guys, you’re going to have to give up some things but this, this bond with the kids, ya’ know, you should really try it out.”

Continue reading Who’s Lucky: Choices about Primary Parenting

Why Not Me? Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

by: Shelly N. Laurenzo

Amidst the morning hustle of getting ready for work and a toddler ready for preschool I hear a light bing come from my cell phone. Thinking it might be a traffic alert, dreaded with my 35-mile commute, I hesitantly picked up my phone and instead saw a calendar alert for a director’s group meeting the next day. Director’s group? Why would I be getting a calendar invite to director’s group? And then I remembered, I’m now a member of director’s group. A few days prior I was promoted in the office and now held a seat in at the table of my office’s leadership team. As soon as my decaffeinated brain processed this information my second thought was, I’m not ready for this. Clearly this is a mistake. I’m an imposter.

Continue reading Why Not Me? Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: An Introduction

This is the first post in a series contributed by Susan Albertine, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)

Reading the postings at SAfeminist, I’ve been thinking not just about leadership and mentorship for women on campus, but also about the purposes of leadership itself. Why do we—by whom I mean SAfeminist voices—care so much about leadership, specifically about female leadership? Is it really self-evident why it matters? SAfeminist writers are united in their call. I hear that. I hear that women continue to feel pulled between the personal and the political, between family and career, between fixed and fluid identities, between one polarity and another. Personal experience tells me those dynamics are real. What I am not hearing as clearly is why women’s leadership and mentorship will help right now. I’d like to reflect on that question. To what end do we envision the leadership for which we are calling? Continue reading Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: An Introduction

Making it Right After Getting it “Wrong”

by: Sara Hinkle, Jennifer R. Keup, & Jodi Koslow Martin

As we have referenced before, this blog is the descendant of an ongoing Women’s Leadership Book Club in which most of the regular #SAFeminist contributors engage. Our most recent book selection literally started with the daunting questions “When did you make a mistake in your career and what did you learn from it?” The rest of the book, aptly titled Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong, is dedicated to sharing the stories told in response to that question for a number of female leaders from a wide range of professions, including Kim Gordon (bassist and founding member of Sonic Youth), Ruth Reichl (La Times and New York Times food critic, author, and editor of Gourmet magazine), Carol S. Dweck (Stanford psychology professor and motivation researcher), and Dr. Cori Lathan (Founder and CEO of the engineering research and design firm, AnthroTronix).

Reading the very real, sometimes embarrassing, occasionally painful stories was a fascinating and enlightening experience. Especially because it was such a raw insight into the taboo topic of women making mistakes, for which we rarely allow or forgive ourselves due to stringent and typically unrealistic expectations of women that are often self-inflicted but socially endorsed. Continue reading Making it Right After Getting it “Wrong”

Musings of a Vice President

 

Lights.different

By Jodi Koslow Martin

One of the pleasures of reading a blog is to get to know its author. If you read consistently enough, you get a sense of who she is and seeing if her experiences align with yours.  It’s been fun for those of us writing this blog to see what gets shared, what gets comments, and what gets people thinking.

To share a bit more about myself, I am coming up on finishing my first full year as a vice-president. There is a part of me that wants to write, “well, I work at a small school so it’s not a real vice-president position.” What? How about that for listening to nothing my co-bloggers have written so far? Then, there’s another part of me that wants to share with you that this year as a vice-president has been so different from every other year of my career. Vice presidents are the people I used to talk about…all the time. I used to analyze what they thought, what they did, what they said, what I thought they believed. Ugh. How is it possible that anyone would care to give serious thought to what I think? Who am I? And again…am I even reading this blog? But, then, I think again. I’ve worked towards this position and I’m proud to have it. Right?!?! Damn straight. The job fits my skill set and my love for higher education. I often think using the word “passion” for working with college students is overused; I, on the other hand, have a love for higher ed. I believe in it for its transformational power and am committed to it in spite its imperfections. Look at that. I’m in a committed relationship with higher education.

My friend, Jennifer Keup, recently posted her review of the book, Composing a Life. I love the idea of “composing a life.” We are all composing our lives. As we think about composing our careers in higher education, we may find that we thread together a bunch of experiences (and sew them up into a neat resume) and discover where we make the greatest of contributions in higher education. I’m finding that leadership in higher education comes together in large parts in the meetings we have, in the tones of our voices, and in making appearances. In Composing a Life, Bateson spends some time reflecting upon an instance where someone mentioned the pastoral role of an academic dean. Her colleague was referring to the listening, consoling, counseling, and ministering parts of leadership rather than to a bucolic way of living life.  One day after I read this section, a colleague of mine offered me advice to try to be more pastoral with staff. Working on a Christian campus, being pastoral is something many are familiar with.  The term “pastoral” struck me, admittedly not in a positive way at first. Yet, it resonated with me how Bateson managed to put the pastoral comment in context; she offered that being nurturing can include both concurring and agreeing with someone as well as offering a realistic version of the truth. She’s spot on. I’m continually striking the balance to sit next to someone and listen intently and quietly with clearly laying out my expectations and vision.

All of this is part of my reflection — a year into this job as vp — of my continual journey to be an authentic leader. I’ve mentioned authenticity a few times in past blogs and I still connect with the concept. It’s only in being most genuine do I find that people can trust you. Just last week, I made a new hire. I always begin interviews with candidates who will be direct reports with breakfast and then end the day with the candidate to assess what she or he has learned. One candidate recently told me at the end of the day, “So…you’re different.” Yes I am. There is only one way for me to be VP and it’s as me. I know no other way. I have to keep that in mind. And, I like being different. So much so that I hired the person who noticed.