Since our linked series of posts last week that covered the Heliopause (that is being a woman and being promoted to full professorship early in one’s career), the standing-still issue (namely the MLA’s good advice… though I didn’t see any how to implement suggestions in the MLA’s publication), and the complexities of being a full-time academic and full-time mother/partner/autonomous individual without a time machine I’ve found myself thinking in bullet points.
My desire to organize into lists may well be due to the fact that I am about to embark on the holiest of mid-winter grails: reading week. Now’s the time when academics across the nation look over our to-do lists with feverish eyes and over-achievement in our hearts and think ‘I shall accomplish all of these tasks!’ Or maybe that’s just me.
Nonetheless I’m big into lists these days. I find I want to think not only about what I need to get done, but how I am going to do it, and what steps it make take to get it done. You might be asking yourselves what this love of lists has to do with the posts of last week. First and foremost it has to do with my desire to get involved in making this profession (and, by proxy, my life) a more equitable and enjoyable and functional space. I’m no where near tenure or promotion (one would need a tenure-track job for that), nor am I a chair of a department, programme, committee, working group, or advisory team through which I could advocate for changing the way we do the dossier (again, there’s that bit about needing a permanent job first). And I’m not a parent, so while I do agonize over whether I spend enough quality time with my partner, my friends, and (frankly) me, I do not have the added real time and emotional pressures and privileges of caring for a wee one.
What I can do, though, is make some lists!
Lee Skallerup Bessette, one of the regular bloggers for our friend over at University of Venus and blogger and pedagog in her own right, has recently reminded me once again why it is so important to blog as a woman in higher education. For Bessette blogging is a way of combating bullying, “that’s what the media, the politicians, administrators, and even a number of academics are, bullies.” Indeed, that’s what I mean for this list to do.
I’m not the first to make lists, obviously. About three years ago University Affairs ran a series on women in higher education in Canada. (This was around the same time that Inside Higher Ed ran a post on the ‘quiet desperation’ of women academics) Two of the UA posts were entitled “A Challenging Landscape” and “Women Academics Five Strategies for Success.” While I applaud the focus, what frustrates me is the onus that is put entirely on the woman academic navigating that challenging landscape. So I’m going to start my own list, and I’d love for you to add to it. This list is first and foremost for the graduate students and newly minted PhDs among our readership. Why? Because I have no experience beyond the limited term appointment…yet.
So here we go. Three suggestions to begin:
1. Don’t become isolated: read blogs, form reading and writing support groups, make regular meetings with your supervisor, mentor or peers.
2. Do make space for your research. See Aimee’s post on studying for candidacies and adapt those strategies to work for writing the dissertation, writing articles, spending time searching job lists, and writing conference abstract.
3. Do one thing a day that is just for you. Take 15 minutes to look at the Fluevog sale site and droool, go to a yoga class, read a poem, walk outside, write a postcard, make some music Brian Eno style, hug your dog (or mine, see above. Isn’t he huggable?) Whatever. Just make sure you don’t forget that this is your life and you need taking care of too.
Now, back to my epic reading break to do list. Right after I walk the dog.