Late to the Party: Woman Seeks PhD

As usual I’m late to the party.

After debating the merits of creating an academic blog — because, really, do we need more of these? — I’ve decided to go for it. My decision is based on many factors: First, and perhaps most importantly, it’s summer and I have a bit of “free time”–i.e. opportunity to reflect on how I’m positioning myself in the field, teaching, research, etc. So yeah, maybe “free time” is the wrong term….

Also, it just seems like a good idea.

I mean, I love reading academic blogs. In particular I love blogs that discuss the balance of life and work; check out Get a Life, PhD. Because that’s what I like to do: research, teach, while also maintaining valuable interpersonal relationships. At the end of the day it’s that support that keeps me going.

And while it’s become increasingly clear that scholars should be blogging, there’s still a great deal of resistance. Despite this view, which I respect, I seek academic blogs as another space for inclusiveness and collaboration. I’ve already established a collaborative working environment at the university in which I work via writing group and on twitter (OK, sometimes I’m crappy about updating…), but I’d like to see a space that represents women–in particular graduate students–as willing collaborators in the humanities. There are already some great blogs about this; see, Tenure, She Wrote, The Professor is In, and Woman of Science, to name only a few. Seriously, I could go on an on about the great blogs out there. See some masterful blogging by one of my colleagues: Scholarly Medieval Madness.

The Thing about Women in Academia

I’m a woman. I like to hang out with women. I like to work with women. I like to collaborate with women. Sure, I’ll do all these things with men (and am currently working on a co-authored article with an excellent male colleague), but because of the already competitive environment found not only in academia generally, but even more so in the humanities and because of my interest in gender studies, I think it’s important for women to view other women not as competitors, but collaborators.

This isn’t revolutionary thinking, but it’s what’s guiding my perspective on women in the academy and this blog. When I first joined a writing group at my university, I noticed that many of the women in my group were initially unwilling to share their goals, research topics, or awards/grants to which they were applying. Even I will admit my own hesitance: “What if she also applies?” or “What if she gets it over me?”

This way of thinking is dangerous, culturally-ingrained, and difficult to shake. But my writing group (now only comprised of women; the men dropped, I swear we didn’t kick them out) is open, honest, and helpful in assisting one another navigate academia.

OK, so maybe not quite like this….

In sum, I want to use this blog as a space to build connections between scholars who are interested in collaboration and an open–I’m open to guest bloggers!–honest discussion of the challenges that women face in academia. I’ll try to keep this space updated with my research, teaching, and other academic ventures.