When Academia Fails Women

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UC Irvine Political Science Professor  Kristen Monroe and her co-authors  Saba Ozyurt, Ted Wrigley and Amy Alexander have published their article, “Gender Equity in Academia: Bad News From the Trenches, and Some Possible Solutions,” in Perspectives on Politics.  Here is a portion of the abstract:

Despite apparent increases in women in positions of authority, discrimination continues to manifest itself through gender devaluation, a process whereby the status and power of an authoritative position is downplayed when that position is held by a woman, and through penalties for those agitating for political change. Female faculty find legal mechanisms and direct political action of limited utility, and increasingly turn to more subtle forms of incremental collective action, revealing an adaptive response to discrimination and a keen sense of the power dynamics within the university.

The full abstract is here.  Inside Higher Ed reports on the study under the headline “Quiet Desparation of Academic Women” (full story here).  Several blogs including clinicians with not enough to do picked up Inside Higher Ed’s coverage of the story (cwnetd version  here; h/t Vanessa Merton).

What interests me in particular about this study is that it suggests a failure of formal workplace mechanisms — indeed law itself: “[f]emale faculty find legal mechanisms and direct political action of limited utility.”  Formal equality may be feminism’s most significant legacy, but equality in life as it is lived remains elusive.

-Bridget Crawford

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