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
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.”
Continue reading The Gift of Saying “No” to Others and “Yes” to Yourself
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
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
By Sara Hinkle
As I contemplate my latest post for this blog, it’s clear that I should write about the subject that’s closest to me right now and at the forefront of my mind: my pregnancy. As I write this I am closing out my 39th week of pregnancy and eagerly/anxiously anticipating the arrival of my first child. The road to this point has been a long and slow one, for the most part. As I reflect, it occurs to me that, while balancing parenting and career is something that both men and women deal with (in theory if not in practice), pregnancy is a condition only experienced by women. I will take this opportunity to reflect on how I’ve balanced the physical and mental challenges of pregnancy with my professional responsibilities as an assistant vice president for student affairs.
The first trimester can be both a time of excitement and uncertainty. On the one hand, there is the thrill of getting the positive pregnancy result, hearing the baby’s heart beat for the first time, and, perhaps, seeing the child via ultrasound. On the other hand, the first trimester is a time of high risk, as many women miscarry during this time. This, coupled with the stress of planning for a new life with a child, can be the source of great anxiety. Women also experience potential physical discomforts, such as fatigue, nausea and “morning” sickness. Further, many women choose not to disclose their pregnancy during this time, as they would rather wait until they have moved out of the “high risk” phase. As a result, it can be a lonely time, during which you’re not able to share your condition with those you see every day (e.g., your colleagues), but it’s still taking a toll on your physical and mental health. Further, you’re not able to receive support from the workplace.
Continue reading Reflections from a Pregnant Professional
So, here’s the deal: I’m TIRED! Like to-the-core mentally, physically, spiritually, and professionally tired. This is not the kind of tired that a vacation, a long weekend spent in bed, or a weekday massage can dispel. This is the kind of exhausted that I suspect is the hallmark of many mid-level and senior student affairs professionals who are also juggling other demands in their lives. Add to that the fact that many of us who are drawn to this field are innate and lifelong “caretakers” whose responsibilities and obligations in service to others probably predates our professional roles in higher education for reasons that range from being type A personalities, first-born children, lifelong leaders, or even managing more pressing challenges in our inner circles such as addiction or mental health issues. Contextualize all of that within a resource-sensitive era of higher education (read: “we ain’t got no money!”), being asked to do “more with less,” and continually needing to prove our worth as partners in the academic mission of the institution, and it can be a recipe for serious burnout.
Continue reading Dreaming of an Administrative Sabbatical
by Jennifer Stripe
Oh, balance. That elusive state of Zen-like being. The one in which I find plenty of time to attend to the needs of home, work, family, friends, and myself. I have often heard others say that adding just one or two more hours to the day would solve time challenges and allow them to achieve balance. I suggest that doing so would simply provide more hours to fill.
Please allow this blog post to serve as your personal invitation to my “balance does not exist” bandwagon where we will comfort each other with the understanding that balance is not elusive but, rather, a downright impossibility. As I have advanced in my career, I have found striving to achieve balance just another stress-inducing task on my to-do list. I once believed that I could do it all … Continue reading Balance is Bunk
by Sara Hinkle
As I synthesized the messages of various books and articles focused on women in leadership and considered how they applied to my own life situation, I came to a realization: as a single, childless woman in my 40s, my point of view is not really being represented at all. The messages out there are primarily targeting the working mom. As Kerry Hannon noted in Forbes in a critique of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In,
Sandberg spends the lion’s share of her book on the challenges facing working women with young children. But the plight of women without kids in the workplace is virtually ignored, even though nearly 1 in 5 American women exits her childbearing years childless.
Indeed, Hannon echoed my feeling that my perspective was not being captured. Further, I’ve found many of the messages being delivered to be frustrating and even insulting at times. Allow me to elaborate on the plight of the invisible single woman.
Continue reading The Invisible Single Woman