When I was a graduate student there weren’t many senior women in my department. There were narratives about them that seemed unique to each woman: One was crazy—I never really understood why, but there were hushed rumours and we were warned to stay away and not work with her. She had some impressive publications, but they were informally credited to her co-authors. Another senior woman was a "bitch"—she was well known in her "narrow" area of feminist inquiry, but only because few had researched the topic and she'd landed upon low-hanging fruit. She got her job because the department wanted to hire her husband and she didn't deserve the position and knew it.
The junior female faculty were seen more favourably—as up-and-comers, friendly, and good citizens. According to some senior men, though, some junior women had Achilles' heels that would stunt their success, such as the woman who had kids before tenure (her rookie "star" was sure to fade) and a black woman, an "affirmative action hire" and flight risk due to the lack of black professionals in town. Or so the narratives went. The junior women generally steered clear of the senior ones, and it didn't seem like the senior women helped the juniors. The senior women were generally thought of as competitive, selfish, and threatened. Some of us attributed the negative reputations of the senior women a bit more kindly—to a generation gap: It must have been difficult making it in a male-dominated field when they were young, so they'd had to be steely and selfish to survive.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment