We asked women in academia if they can relate to the findings of a new report: that female academics get less pay and battle cronyism, among other things. Here are some of their responses:
(Please note: Names have been withheld when requested by the respondents)
Best work/life balance job for a mother. I had tenure, two maternity leaves and a sabbatical all within my first seven years on the job. I greatly value the flexible work hours (for the most part), enabling me to work (from home) at odd hours, and affording me the ability to pick up my kids from school most days. I feel I am respected by my students and colleagues, and that my research productivity is up to me. I don't feel gender is a factor in my publishing or general career advancement.
Political science, mid-size institution, Ontario
Although I survived the childcare challenges (with the help of my spouse), I now find myself frustrated and puzzled by the lack of respect allocated to me within my own department. I'm quite certain that my colleagues don't get this disparity at all because they don't see it. I have as much or more seniority than most of my department colleagues, I hold academic, administrative and research responsibilities and yet my efforts and ideas are discounted until one of the men finally see the light and put them forward as his own!
Environmental science, small institution, Ontario
Expect to work harder, publish more, and assert your right to be there. You will have far fewer female colleagues than males and yours will often be the last voice in the room to be heard. IF you allow it to be. Women who are willing to take on the role on equal terms (i.e., by standing their ground and expecting to be treated equally) often find excellent support from their male colleagues. I have found this to be less true with administrators who, at the four universities where I have worked, have all been willing to let men with subpar credentials move ahead unchecked and with higher salaries while women with stellar research and teaching records continued unnoticed.
Sociology, mid-size institution, Ontario
I am a successful academic, with books, grants, and high student teaching evaluations. I love my job, but the hostility from the old boys is a challenge. I endure inappropriate comments about women’s bodies, or homophobic remarks. My research (which won awards) has been ridiculed. A few years ago I was elected chair of my department. The old boys were so hostile that the Dean had to move me to a different department. Worst of all, students seem to think that the male professors are more knowledgeable than I am.
Classical studies, mid-size institution, Ontario
I now know not only that I'm good at my job, but what that is worth - something few women in my field can bring themselves to acknowledge (or, perhaps, even realize). We need smart and powerful female academics to pass this and similar knowledge along. The boys have the old boys club - whether they claim to belong or not. Who has our backs?
Kim Solga, theatre studies, large institution, Ontario
As a new post-doctoral researcher in medical physics I am at a crossroads in my career. I would prefer to stay in academia because I truly enjoy both research and teaching, however, with so few female role models ahead of me, I don't know what to expect. In some ways it seems that women faculty are either not wanted or they don't want to be there. It makes you stop and think that if other women didn't fit in, why would I?
Medical physics, large institution, outside Canada
As a junior faculty member, I applied for an annual merit-based pay raise after having published one top-tier journal article, one smaller article, two book chapters, and a book review in my first year. My student teaching evaluations were stellar and my service to the university was strong. I was rejected for a merit-based pay raise while a male hired the year before me was awarded one. He has not published a single article since 2008, has lukewarm student evaluations and engages in very little service. The kicker? He was awarded a merit-based pay raise despite the fact that he was absent for six months on paternity leave.
Cultural/urban studies, large institution, Massachusetts
Those who do manage to succeed struggle with personal family issues, a sense that they had to work twice as hard as their male peers and are left with nothing to give to young women coming up. Those who enter university administration or achieve higher status of Deans or Principles fair better, but it is who you know (hopefully the Mayor in their community)! The predominant cultural attitude towards academics in general works against women's success. Anyone who manages to succeed does so against stiff odds!
Political science, small institution, Ontario