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Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia

Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia

Emily Toth
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia
    Book Description:

    In question-and-answer form, Ms. Mentor advises academic women about issues they daren't discuss openly, such as: How does one really clamber onto the tenure track when the job market is so nasty, brutish, and small? Is there such a thing as the perfectly marketable dissertation topic? How does a meek young woman become a tiger of an authority figure in the classroom-and get stupendous teaching evaluations? How does one cope with sexual harassment, grandiosity, and bizarre behavior from entrenched colleagues? Ms. Mentor's readers will find answers to the secret queries they were afraid to ask anyone else. They'll discover what it really takes to get tenure; what to wear to academic occasions; when to snicker, when to hide, what to eat, and when to sue. They'll find out how to get firmly planted in the rich red earth of tenure. They'll learn why lunch is the most important meal of the day.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0811-5
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Graduate School: The Rite of Passage
    (pp. 1-20)

    Anne, a straight-A student through high school and a summa cum laude from Bryn Mawr, has fallen in love with art history. She’s trekked to every odd little church in every corner of Italy and says her soul is more Italian than American. Friends have found her lying down by the hour, staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A boyfriend even broke off with her because, he said, “You love Michelangelo—even though he’s dead and gay—more than you love me.” Anne can’t deny it. And now, after five years of waitressing in Europe and discovering that...

  6. The Job Hunt
    (pp. 21-42)

    It used to be that, ’round about the time he was finishing his course work and starting on his dissertation, a young man’s fancy would turn to his future employment.

    And so, he would talk to his major professor, who would call his friends at a select number of schools and find out who needed, for instance, “a man in American literature” or “a new fellow in economics.” The major professor would recommend “my brightest student, a fine young man.” By the following fall, the young man would be teaching, possibly at an Ivy League university or a fine Seven...

  7. The Conference Scene
    (pp. 43-57)

    A distraught reader writes to Ms. Mentor:

    I gave a paper—my first—at our major professional conference. It’s very prestigious, and hardly any graduate students’ papers are ever accepted. Yet not one of my professors attended my session. I was crushed. Is there any explanation for their behavior?

    Indeed there is, and this was the start of Ms. Mentor’s reply:

    Ms. Mentor hopes that you did not spend any time crying into your pillow. Mourning for boors is a waste of one’s time, faculties, and tear ducts.

    Ms. Mentor also deplores the absence of your professors at your début—...

  8. First Year on the Job
    (pp. 58-82)

    “Nova Smith,” freshly Ph.D.ed, arrives at her new assistant professor job, nervous and exhilarated. Now—at last—she’ll be an academic adult. She’ll take her place in a community of scholars where ideas are the currency and the merit dream is the rule. At last, she’ll be in a milieu where intelligence and the promotion of knowledge will be amply rewarded and cheered.

    Sometimes, indeed, all that does ensue.

    But every new faculty member is also part of an academic department. Nova’s new department may be an easy-sailing ship, with high morale and warm collegiality, where people take turns hoisting...

  9. The Perils and Pleasures of Teaching
    (pp. 83-104)

    In graduate school in her well-spent youth, Ms. Mentor learned all about the famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, an academic whiz who became a full professor at the age of twenty-four. Still discontented—like all academics—Nietzsche had a habit of endlessly kvetching about the burdens of teaching. He wildly resented, he said, the requirement that one must “think in front of other people.”

    Nietzsche, of course, had many other difficulties. Among them were a repellent personality and a very small penis—problems that do not trouble women who teach in American universities nowadays.

    But the core requirement—that one must...

  10. When Cultures Collide
    (pp. 105-127)

    “Nobody like me has ever been an academic.”

    Ms. Mentor has often heard this said by academic women. Indeed, it is mostly true. Although we are told that the professoriate is now open to all comers, it still remains mostly white, heterosexual, middle class, Christian, and male.

    Despite more than two decades of feminist activism—and the existence of over six hundred Women’s Studies programs around the nation—women are still just 10 percent of the full professors, the top rank in academia. In fact, most of women’s increase in numbers is at the bottom: the instructors, with few benefits...

  11. Muddles and Puzzles
    (pp. 128-159)

    Ms. Mentor prides herself on being able to help with virtually any problem, however peculiar. Academic matters are her speciality, but she rarely hesitates to give advice on anything at all. (She prefers Thai food to British, for instance—as anyone with a palate should.)

    In this section, she presents a stew, miscellany, gumbo, casserole, potpourri, or what-have-you. Oddments, in short, for the cogitation and delectation of learned sages and gentle readers.

    Ms. Mentor hopes they will provoke debate and study.

    She does not recommend the appointment of committees.

    Q: I happen to have the same name as a very...

  12. Slouching Toward Tenure
    (pp. 160-181)

    What does it really take to get tenure? the young always want to know. Ms. Mentor is sometimes reminded of the old, and yes, very tacky, Borscht Belt joke about the three Hollywood moguls choosing the female star for their next major motion picture.

    One of the possible stars has an Academy Award; the second has an Emmy; the third has a Tony. All have done Shakespeare in England; all have studied with the Actors’ Studio or its equivalent; all of them do comedy, tragedy, musicals, and serious drama, with equal deftness and flair. All are truly distinguished, international performers....

  13. Post-Tenure
    (pp. 182-201)

    Hilda was five, sturdy and short-legged, when she hopped off to school for her first day in the first grade.

    Hilda was forty, chubby and graying, when she finally stopped going to school.

    Hilda had, of course, done other things with her life. After college she’d raised three children and worked at odd jobs to put her husband through medical school. She’d taken some graduate courses, but dropped out to follow her husband who, after his internship and residency, decided to relocate in another part of the country, where Hilda knew no one.

    She’d made friends, and finally rooted herself...

  14. Emerita: The Golden Years
    (pp. 202-205)

    Ms. Mentor, who knows all the familiar images of women, can summon up few, if any, mental pictures of retired women.

    Women do not retire.

    When the laws on taxing retirement income were changed a few years ago, Phyllis A. Whitney, the author of more than forty books, wrote to writers’ magazines in high dudgeon, dismay, and disgust. “Writers do not retire,” she declared. As of 1997, well into her nineties (she was born in 1903), Whitney published a new novel. She wasn’t done making her point.

    Married women are famous, of course, for not retiring. Ms. Mentor has seen...

  15. Final Words
    (pp. 206-208)

    Q: What kinds of reviews does Ms. Mentor expect to get for her first book?

    A: Excellent ones, from the wise. She expects readers to find her book a thundering good read, with fabulous plot and characters, as well as wit, wisdom, sagacity, substance, and great pith.

    She also expects people to give Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia to one another for major holidays, job hunting, and tenure struggles. A copy of Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia will always be an appropriate graduation gift.

    Some reviews will vary, of course. Some will say that...

  16. Bibliography: Women in Academia and Other Readings Sampled by Ms. Mentor
    (pp. 209-216)
  17. Index
    (pp. 217-225)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 226-226)