And this I’m not proud of at all. I’ve had three children and I’ve never had a maternity leave. I’ve showed up to work within a three week time period for all of my kids, and for one of them I showed up about six days after they were born. And that’s not good.
There was a student about three years ago who wrote a paper. In her paper, she was using very racist discourse. When I had to confront her and explain to her how this might be offensive, it led into a questioning of my intelligence and my credibility. That was another moment where, if this was a man sitting giving her this feedback, would she respond in the same way? Would she respond in the same way to a white women?
This is a career that doesn’t outwardly state that it’s not child friendly. There is some flexibility—people who don’t know the profession think, “Oh, you have summers off, you only teach so many hours a week!”—but they don’t see how it all comes together. I’ve never had a summer off. I work even harder in the summers, while having my children around.
I remember when I was growing up my mother used to say that it’s a man’s world and that women have to work extra hard. And I did find that to be true at first. I still tell my students this, I still have that attitude. But the truth of the matter is that I do not see it at U of R.
We live embodied. I can’t do anything about those kinds of implicit biases. I can only figure out how I can be the best faculty member, how I can present a persona that I am comfortable living with and that students can connect to. How do I defuse that noise? It’s a really hard thing to figure out for anybody, not only for professors figuring out what their teaching persona is going to be. Teaching is a performance. And there are kinds of styles that work for women, and there are certain kinds of styles that don’t.
I’m a bit of a mushy professor, so students might more willingly say “Oh, come on, why can’t we have an extension?” Notice the stereotypical male voice that I’m imitating there, that was deliberate. But would they push a male professor in the same way? I don’t think so.