Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Writing -- blogging for discipline...

Yesterday I spent most of the day in my office at school -- and, while that was a good place to chat with my pals, write a letter of recommendation for D1 (proud of him, full debate scholarship to a good school -- I rock!!-- and, well -- especially he rocks...), and submit a TFC expense report, I didn't get a whole lot done on my paper.

Today so far I've cleaned the kitchen -- which really needed it, it was gonna be a health issue sooner or later -- I've had breakfast and made coffee... but, no writing...

My goal today is to revise the introduction to the paper and work on correcting the problems brought up by the feedback from the M & E committee. This is hard for me because it is in my least favorite area of philosophy --- but, it is a promising paper that will fulfill that last hurdle before I'm officially ABD.

The weird thing is that I think that if I can get to BE ABD -- the D will be hard, but possible. I have a picture of about what the dissertation looks like- -- it is this other stuff that gets in my way.

Maybe this is the real impact of the rampant sexisim in my grad department. Finishing the Metaphysics requirement was the most difficult for me to do--- I tried with Metaphysics itself, got a B, I took Philosophy of Language and also got a B... finally
i got the grade in Philosophy of Language on the second try --

I also am kind of irritated because the paper I'm submitting was originally submitted for Philosophy of Language, the second try, and got a good grade and only minor comments/ criticism from the chair of this committee.

I seem to have a basic fear of rejection on this front -- because this is the area of philosophy I was most underprepared for as an undergrad -- and those interested in this area are the biggest hard-asses in philosophy-- which translates into a very non-female friendly style of teaching and writing... which is fine, but in some ways hard for me considering the other ways the department was sexist.

I've been beating around the bush on the grad department is sexist theme for a while... to conserve my time and your eyes, I'll give the bullet points on that one.

1) Old grad advisor more or less asking if it is ok with my husband if I go to grad school -- first meeting. Also in first meeting immediately suggesting I go for the MA not the PhD -- which put me in a subbordinate position from the start and put me immediately out of consideration for a lot of assistance etc. After the first meeting he NEVER answered any more advising questions from me... EVER, not in e-mail, handwritten notes, on the phone or in person. I did it ALL by the book the secretaries gave me. I

2) Old grad advisor NEVER telling me that I had a "residency requirement" for the PhD -- the requirement is that I take 3 classes per semester for three consecutive semesters. I was doing two per semester -- the last few semesters with a 5/5 adjunct teaching load. Thank goodness my wonderful supervisor worked that out. That wasn't in the book, but the other grad students knew because Old Grad Advisor told them.

3) Various comments in class and informally from current chair about women in philosophy etc... all ment to be in good fun, but very discouraging.

4) Every year several women were admitted to the program. At the end of the year most didn't return for the second year.

5) The whole time I was there (about 5 or 6 years) only ONE graduate level class was taught by a female. There were only two females on faculty -- one spent most of that time working in the dean's office and the other is on some kind of odd status -- and her office isn't even on the same floor as the rest of the department.

6) About four years ago (after I left) there was an opening and they offered it to a woman. She declined citing the atmosphere in the department (via the grapevine...). They have finally succeeded in hiring two women into tenure track jobs... and they seem to be actually teaching grad classes.

I'm just hoping that I can finish my dissertation before the people I know aren't sexist leave.... Supervisor is good, my Kant guy is good and the rock star also was good in those areas... sadly, rock star is gone and will have to be replaced -- but Supervisor is good at picking people and he has a couple of good ideas so I'll go with his suggestions.

Enough procrastination... I'm off to shower and then to spend most of the day writing.


Tense Teacher said...

I wonder if we'll ever get past sexism in the workplace and in education...

Even at the high school level, where women have been dominant in teaching, the coaches always get paid more and aren't expected to follow the same rules as we women are (they get to skip faculty meetings!).

I also wonder if it would be any different if we had a female headmaster, but I doubt it.

You make me nervous about pursuing my PhD someday...

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I think the problem in my grad department is due to the old hiring cohort of guys wanting to avoid Vietnam -- and, since they really weren't supportive of feminism, they went to analytic philosophy departments and studied "hard" stuff -- i.e. stuff that requires a Y chromosome to understand :).

The problem is that their attitudes are perpetuated in places like my grad department where guys are seen as more philosophical and women are encouraged to do less analytical stuff -- or go to political science...

They see postmodernism as an intellectual fad and feminism as something that doesn't belong in serious philosophical work....

App Crit said...

You've got discipline. If I had a lot of writing to do, and I do, I can make making coffee last a whole morning.

sexism in the humanities...I think it's pervasive in the non-MLA humanities, it certainly is in classics. Scholars who are women seem to be expected to do the gender studies subfield of the discipline. In archaeology, forget it. That's the worst boys' club. Not too many women in archaeology. Usually, they're encouraged to go into art history, you know, becasue it's not too technical.

The biggest hypocrisy is among (usually male) scholars who write about social issues, but don't follow their own scholarly interests in life. I see that all the time.

Good luck with the writing.


Hilaire said...

What is terrible about this is how much I and many, many others nod our heads along with your story. It's such a common one. I did my PhD in a quasi-phil department, and found the gender politics absolutely crushing, so insidious and subtle. This is the kind of situation in which the department makes you feel crazy for saying anything.

And yes, the "feminism as something that doesn't belong in serious academic work" problem. I wish it was dying our with the retiring old guard. But it isn't, I don't think. Even the most pomo hipsters in my PhD department engaged in this, although they knew enough to couch it in some kind of language of "post"-feminism. But it was the same dismissal, and it was devastating.

Good luck to you in your writing!