Being a Woman in Academia

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What is it like to be a woman in academia? I am glad you asked. It is an interesting dynamic that exists between men and women and between women and other women. I think it is pretty well known that more women are attending colleges and universities and are the most educated, yet there is still an income gap between men and women, with women working full-time in 2017 earning 80.5 cents for every dollar that a man earned, which is a 20% gender wage gap.

 

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that for four-year degree granting institutions in 2017, women made up 58% of admitted students, while men made up 55%.

 

In the case of Doctoral Degrees 50.9% of all degrees earned in 2017 were by women, and this figure has been steadily increasing over the past decade.

 

So even though we may hold the most degrees statistically, we still do not hold as much power. There are still many institutions with majority white and male faculty and tenured faculty. Even further, women of color are especially underrepresented in academia, with Asian, Black and Latina women holding 3.0%, 2.3% and 2.4% of tenured positions. For example, in my department there is one Asian woman who is a tenured faculty member, and an additional two women who are tenure-track. What does this mean for students like myself?

 

  • It is harder to form community because there are so few of us
  • It is harder to get adequate support from faculty who do not look like you because they cannot relate to your experiences
  • With so fe faculty of color, all of the students of color flock to the same faculty and it burns them out
  • There is a chance that you may not have anyone who looks like you represented within the faculty  

 

But despite these things stacked up against me, I will not let that discourage me or bring me down. That is the key. Being a woman in academia means showing up and showing out. We have to dismantle the expectations placed on us and do the work we were called to do, because we are certainly qualified to do it.  

So what do I plan to do with all of this? I plan to use my voice and my seat at the table once I receive my degree to advocate for myself and for the women who will come after me, so that one day, the inequality will be no more.   

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