Tag Archives: feminism

Feminism and the Alpha Female

by: Anonymous

Recently, a female colleague said that she believes that I had achieved my professional position because I am an attractive woman and work for male administrators.  The (not-so-subtle) implication of this statement was that, as an attractive woman, I was given opportunities not afforded to others who she believes are better qualified than I am.

To be quite honest, I was shocked at this accusation. I would never classify myself as an attractive woman. I would describe myself as a runner, athletic, a feminist, an educator, a wife, a sister, a mother, an animal lover, and a laundry list of other adjectives…but never would I label myself as “attractive.” The idea of of using my appearance in an attempt to get ahead is ridiculous to me. I am the person running out the house at the last minute with a dryer sheet stuck to the arm of her blouse. I am so frugal that I only shop at second-hand clothing shops and that one red tag clearance rack at the back corner of the store. My husband is far more fashion forward than I am. In fact, he does all the ironing in our household as my skill level is not up to his standards, which is fine by me. I spray that magic wrinkle spray on myself and call it good enough. Most of my time outside of work is spent in running shoes and workout clothing. My beauty “routine” consists of my daughter’s baby oil, eczema cream, and prescription acne ointment from a dermatologist (yes, in my mid-30’s I am plagued by both acne and wrinkles). Those are certainly not the features that one would normally associate with “attractive.” Continue reading Feminism and the Alpha Female

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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

Where do Women’s Centers fit?

by Heather Shea Gasser

Campus-based women’s centers hold a special place in my heart. The five+ years I spent as the Director of the University of Idaho Women’s Center, as you may have read on my personal blog, were incredibly transformative for me as a feminist, as a student affairs educator, and as an activist. Now as a scholar and doctoral student in a higher education program, I keep going back to the tensions I experienced in the women’s center as I consider my emerging research interests. Somewhere in the long list of the potential topics are the questions: What is the continuing role of women’s centers as organizations within institutions of higher education? Where do women’s centers fit?

I bring this topic to the #SAfeminist blog today because the professional association home to women’s centers since the 1990s (thank you to Juli Parker for the history), the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), just removed all formal representation of women’s center professionals from their governing council. The co-chairs of the Women’s Center Committee have resigned and submitted this open letter to the NWSA governing council. InsideHigherEd.com carried the news story today.

In the letter, former co-chairs, Dr. Gina Helfrich and Dr. Adale Sholock state “NWSA has failed to center the work of Women’s Centers professionals, the front line practitioners of feminism in the academy and so often those who carry the burden of translating women’s and gender theory into action for and alongside students. Instead of providing a welcoming and sustaining home for Women’s Centers professionals, NWSA has repeatedly marginalized Women’s Centers professionals, their research, their work, and their needs.” Continue reading Where do Women’s Centers fit?

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”

#SAfeminists: One Year Later

By Jennifer Keup, Jodi Koslow Martin, Sara Hinkle, Jennifer Stripe,
and Heather Shea Gasser

Just over a year ago, the five of us gathered at ACPA at a 5 p.m. ed session in Indianapolis hopeful that a few folks would straggle in at the end of the day to talk with us (roundtable-style) about feminism in student affairs. Much to our surprise, the room was full to the gills, spilling out into the hallway. Shocked at the much larger audience than we expected, we proceeded with openness and vulnerability to tell our stories under the title Wonder Women: Leaning In as Women in Student Affairs. Clearly there was a need and an interest for opening up space within our professional development for the intersections between our personal, political, and professional lives as feminists working in student affairs.

After the session, we wondered out loud, where else can we continue this conversation with all of these fabulous people? and, how can we invite more voices to this discussion? and further, how can we move this forward for the purpose of social change?

And so in April 2014, we launched this blog, Feminists in Student Affairs, to provide a forum to continue the invigorating feminist conversation, connection, and activism. In the 11 months since, we’ve gained over 200 followers, received over 18,000 views, and posted nearly 50 contributions from over 21 different authors. We’re thrilled to welcome Amy Howton and Kristen Abell to the core editorial team. Continue reading #SAfeminists: One Year Later

My Thoughts on “Women Doing ‘Office Housework'”

by Heather Shea Gasser

This blogpost was also cross-posted on Heather’s personal blog

This article, Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Women Doing ‘Office Housework’, has appeared in my newsfeed several times in the last 24 hours. Clearly it is striking a painful chord and resonating – yet, in tracking who is posting about it, it is more often women than men. Some of the comments are particularly interesting:

‪Jamie Perkins‪, an educational assistant at an elementary school in Colorado writes: “Yes. And it’s not just women stepping in to these situations. I find that I am voluntold to do these tasks whereas my male co-intern gets to volunteer.‬”

‪Jodi Koslow Martin, a vice-president of student affairs in Illinois wrote: “I sent this article to a staff member at work. She thanked me and said it aligns with what I’ve said in the past – No Cupcakes! Honestly, I can’t remember instituting that rule but I’m all for it.‬”

‪Melanie-Angela Neuilly, a faculty member at a university in Washington state said to another commenter who raised the concerns about stereotypes, “Yes! It’s like: women, you are doing it wrong… Just be more like men.‬”

So, the article brings to our attention and raises awareness about a reality that I would guess many of us who identify as feminists have observed and pushed back against for some time now. Continue reading My Thoughts on “Women Doing ‘Office Housework’”