Making college free was a big topic early in this presidential campaign season, though it’s faded a little bit now. Feministing has recently published a story called “Making college free won’t fix my problems with academia” by Barbara Sostaita. In this piece, Sostaita explains how the cost of college is “only the first obstacle low-income and students of color face in our academic journeys.” She discusses the (many, many) cultural barriers, including campus buildings with overtly racist names, policies with sexist and racist histories, alienation through perpetuation of model minority narratives, lack of diversity in faculty, and more.
I think this might be the smartest article I’ve read on the subject of free college.
I’m not a proponent of free college, myself. (But affordable, accessible college–certainly!) I could give you a whole list of reasons why, but that’s not the point. The more important takeaway here is that the cultural barriers Sostaita describes are elitist, racist, sexist. These barriers are very, very wrong and very, very real. Instead of focusing on free college, perhaps we should focus on creating productive environments for students who are already at university and are struggling because they don’t see people like themselves in the faculty, because they’re facing an onslaught of microaggressions every day, because the system is built against them. Let’s start there.
Read Sostaita’s full story here
In the wake of the horrific events at Pulse in Orlando this weekend, I’ve been trying to be thoughtful about ways to be a good ally to my LGBTQI friends. The list below is compiled from several lists I’ve read as well as ideas from friends. This list is ordered in a way that makes sense to me, but I think different actions and priorities will make sense and work better for different people. In other words, this isn’t a directive, but it might be helpful–it’s been helpful to me in thinking through this.
- Shut up and listen. I am not the victim here; it is not my time to talk. I will try to be an ally without taking rhetorical space from my LGBTQI friends. Many who are hurting right now need someone to hear them.
- Speak up when appropriate. If I witness someone doing something homophobic or sexist or otherwise mean/inappropriate, I have an obligation to say that this behavior is not okay with me. It contributes to a culture where things like Orlando happen.
- Pay attention to affiliations. Religious, political, commercial, whatever. I will be paying close attention to the rhetoric and actions of any church I attend and any politician I am thinking of voting for, and I will not support people or institutions who engage in hate.
- Stay focused on the real issues and work to have hard conversations. A friend recently posted this WSJ project that juxtaposes items from “liberal” and “conservative” Facebook feeds to demonstrate how social media can function as an echo chamber that tells users what they want to hear. I will, instead, seek information from many perspectives and try to engage people with a diversity of opinions. (Check it out: http://graphics.wsj.com/blue-feed-red-feed/)
- Respond to physical needs as well as emotional ones. If you see a friend suffering, check in to make sure they’re okay. Take them out for lunch, or make a dinner to drop off. Here’s a practical one: Give blood. Since Red Cross policies prevent many queer men from giving blood, this is a need that feels (and is) especially real right now.
West offers several case studies of how transgender articulations of law can change our perspectives. He also offers “performative repertoire” as a concept to get beyond acontextual legal rhetorics (see more below). Following are selected quotations and contextualizing notes.
“Academic critique that is limited to official state texts, including legislative debates, statutes, and court opinions, embraces an impoverished sense of the rhetoricity of citizenship and its corresponding agencies” (p. 17)
“an exclusive focus on litigation does not provide an accurate picture of legal subjectivities” (p. 20)
“contextualized critiques of articulations of citizenship are necessary correctives for conceptualizing the law not as an external force acting on culture, but rather as an actually existing set of cultural effectivities” (p. 21)
“agency must be understood as a ‘performative repertoire,’ or as embodied practices enabled by and negotiated through the logics of subjective recognition” (p. 39)
The gender wage gap is a hot topic, and there are a number of usual responses to explain it away. One of the most common is that women tend to choose the sorts of careers that are lower-paying–usually “caring” professions like nursing and teaching. However, this recent article reporting on a study published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) roundly refutes that notion. That study, which included data on 290,000 registered nurses over a 25-year period, found:
- “Male nurses make $5,100 more on average per year than female colleagues in similar positions”
- The pay gap did not narrow between 1988 and 2013
- The gap varied across specialties, with male cardiology nurses making $6,000 more than females in the same position and male nurse anesthetists making $17,290 more per year than their female counterparts.
Those numbers are pretty shocking. Over a 30-year career, that’s more than half a million dollars that female nurse anesthetists are losing out on. (That’s not even accounting for salary-based raises or interest earned on investments). Thus, it’s clear that the gender wage gap is not a result of women choosing lower-paying “care” careers, since the gap within such a career is still so significant.
Re-posted from tengrrl:
THE GENDER DIVIDE IN ACADEME: Insights on Retaining More Academic Women http://t.co/qwvnV6kaZ4
- “Female authors are only half as likely as male authors are to cite their own research” (p. 16).
- A recent study “showed that female students finished college with lower self-esteem than they started with. Males, on the other hand, graduated with greater self-confidence (albeit lower GPAs) than their female peers” (p. 14).
- “[T]here are more than three times as many male full professors at doctoral universities as there are women in those ranks” (p. 12).
I’m giving a workshop today on Maintaining Work/Life Balance, with special focus on the difficulties this task presents depending upon a person’s gender. This workshop is part of a series about Writing Instruction Across the Disciplines, but most of these tips are applicable to writing teachers of all kinds as well as many professionals. I’m including here the handout and worksheet used in this short workshop. In addition, some useful resources for thinking about maintaining work/life balance are listed below.
The following is an excerpt from Jessica Nordell’s article “Why Aren’t Women Advancing at Work?: Ask a Transgender Person.”
Ben Barres is a biologist at Stanford who lived and worked as Barbara Barres until he was in his forties. For most of his career, he experienced bias, but didn’t give much weight to it—seeing incidents as discrete events. (When he solved a tough math problem, for example, a professor said, “You must have had your boyfriend solve it.”) When he became Ben, however, he immediately noticed a difference in his everyday experience: “People who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,” he says. He was more carefully listened to and his authority less frequently questioned. He stopped being interrupted in meetings. At one conference, another scientist said, “Ben gave a great seminar today—but then his work is so much better than his sister’s.” (The scientist didn’t know Ben and Barbara were the same person.) “This is why women are not breaking into academic jobs at any appreciable rate,” he wrote in response to Larry Summers’s famous gaffe implying women were less innately capable at the hard sciences. “Not childcare. Not family responsibilities,” he says. “I have had the thought a million times: I am taken more seriously.”
Read the whole article.