Friday, January 14, 2011

The Women's League

Today's post is at Scientopia, where I discuss the following statement, from a real letter of reference sent for a recent candidate for a faculty position:

[the applicant] is in the same league as other top female graduates [from this department]


inBetween said...

Dear FSP,
I am 7 months pregnant and in a dept that has only 20% women. I'll be only one of two women faculty with children in the dept once my baby is born.

I am writing because I am serving on a committee right now chaired by a man who's wife had a baby less than a year ago. He just assigned the committee members to host visitors, and there is no particularly reason to match any committee member with any particular visitor.

The chair of the committee knows my due date, and yet he gave me the last hosting date of the series, which is about a week before my due date.

This feels like an intentional move on his part to make me likely have to ask for a "favor" given my condition to be switched with another committee member, or to have to cancel at the last minute if I go into labor a little early.

I'd be really interested in hearing other women's experiences with being pregnant and a professor -- is this type of hostile move common? Because it really feels hostile and intentionally insensitive.

thanks, inB

Anonymous said...

Dear inB:

I was in a similar situation. It may or may not be hostile, but don't waste your energy trying to figure it out. Tell the chair that you will not be available for that date. Don't volunteer why. Don't phrase it as if you are asking for a favor. Make it a straightforward statement. If he asks why, then he will be the one to look foolish, not you. This really should be no big deal - nonpregnant people have conflicts with scheduling all the time and are not made to feel defensive, and so neither should you.

Hopefully, you will be simply one of the first of *many* successful female faculty with kids in your department.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. It is not clear that it is hostile. It may even reflect the fact the committee member is trying to avoid the appearance of providing you with special privileges, assuming that you have not formally notified the department of the upcoming maternity leave. This is dubious, tortured logic, I know, but it is possible.

I think anonymous's suggestion is a good one. Good luck!

GMP said...

What the two Anons above said. Just cite conflict and request to be swapped with someone. Avoid specification.

People are often insensitive, that's a fact, but don't read too much into what your colleague did. I wouldn't be surprised if he totally forgot your due date or if it never occurred to him that this piece of information would be pertinent to scheduling.

The Lesser Half said...

Hey FSP, a question:

Does the candidate who received the "Women's League letter deserve to be told that she should perhaps look elsewhere for letters?