Twenty Years Of Sexual Harassment (and other news)
Science policy, 20 years of sexual harassment, French women students as prostitutes: a round-up of stuff from the Chronicle:
Dan Greenburg of Brainstorm complains that the U.S. has no national science policy. Some commenters say “that’s a good thing”.
Over at Chronicle Careers, Julie Vick and Jennifer Furlong talk about how to write good letters of recommendation. They include this advice:
The dean also talked about an issue that merits more discussion in academe: the difference in recommendation letters written for men and women. He suggested that people writing reference letters read a 2003 article in Discourse and Society, by Frances Trix and Carolyn Psenka, “Exploring the Color of Glass: Letters of Recommendation for Female and Male Medical Faculty.” They found that letters for male faculty members were longer and included more repetition of strong words like “outstanding,” “excellent,” and “superb,” compared to the letters for their female counterparts. The letters for men also tended to refer more to their research and professionalism, while the letters for women tended to emphasize their teaching and training, effectively portraying them “as students and teachers, whereas the men are portrayed more as researchers and professionals.”
It is important to pay attention to the language you use when describing male and female candidates, and make sure you are providing as unbiased an evaluation of both as possible.
Follow the link and take a look at that publication. If you are a female grad student/postdoc, perhaps you can surreptitiously leave a copy on your advisor’s desk (or at least a copy of the Chronicle item, if you think she/he won’t read a long article). If you are in a position to recommend someone, read the article, and for god’s sake please don’t praise your female student’s appearance.
According to the student newspaper, the university found Mr. Bender guilty of sexual harassment, but it is allowing him to teach two online courses this semester under the agreement that he “refrain from having private and/or personal interactions with university students,”
Oh good. We wouldn’t want to get his ass out of there too fast. Hey, after 20 years, what’s another semester?
Twenty years of sexual harassment is but one of the reasons universities could benefit from having a diversity officer. The Chronicle news blog reports on a publication that clarifies their role and advises on how to hire a diversity officer. One piece of key advice is to have the diversity officer report directly to the provost or president. Read the comments if you want to see resistance to diversity in action.
Diversity officers might also play a role in helping universities respond to Sallie Mae’s practices.
Two borrowers of student loans have filed a lawsuit against Sallie Mae, accusing the lender of charging higher interest rates and fees to minority students.
In the lawsuit, Sasha Rodriguez, a Hispanic woman in Connecticut, and Cathelyn Gregoire, an African-American woman in Florida, assert that Sallie Mae discriminates against minority borrowers by taking colleges’ default rates into account when setting interest rates. Institutions that serve large numbers of minority students often have higher default rates than other colleges do.
In other news, you can read about French women students prostituting themselves for book money. Here’s something annoying: the news blog refers three times to “students”: once in the title and twice in the body of the post. Yet it is women students who are prostituting themselves. This is a case of using gender inclusive language when gender-specific language would be more appropriate. It isn’t all French students who are engaging in prostitution; it’s the women students, and that has a particular meaning. One wonders what the men are doing for book money, and whether women turn to prostitution because those other avenues are closed off to them.
And finally, if you want to read a textbook example of the in-group circling its wagons to protect its power and exclude those who don’t meet the in-group’s distorted norms, check out this post by Dr. Free-Ride that deconstructs a response to the recent ethics controversy in paleontology. It’s a sad – and infuriating – example of identifying with the oppressor.
Bunny Rock in Zuska’s Garden
Zuska is the kick-ass alter-ego of Suzanne E Franks. When not dispensing Zuska's wisdom, Suzanne can often be found gardening, reading, or having one of her thrice-weekly migraines.
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