What We Are Reading
(and listening to)
Since I am still getting most of my exercise during long walks, I am listening to podcasts such as The Last Archive by Jill Lapore, professor of history at Harvard University and a contributor to the New Yorker Magazine. There are now 10 completed episodes for this season. I highly recommend the series, and I invite you to recommend others for us to post. It seems we'll all be consuming our reading in various ways for months to come as a result of COVID-19.
"Women leading change in academia: Breaking the glass ceiling, cliff and slipper," edited by Callie Rennison and Amy Bonomi - A MUST READ!
As mentioned in my opening above, many women experience the glass ceiling phenomenon. According to a March 1999 article in The MIT Faculty Newsletter, a study on the status of women faculty in the School of Science highlighted the small number of women faculty (15 tenured women vs. 197 tenured men in 1994) and the fact that, contrary to popular belief, the percentage of women faculty had remained unchanged for at least 10, and probably 20 years.
A glass cliff (a 2005 term) happens when women are called in to lead at a time of crisis or a downturn, when the situation may be beyond saving. It is a precarious position. When the failure occurs, reports suggest that the woman was just not up to the task, rather than that the task was long-ago undone.
A glass slipper, a term first coined by Karen Lee Ashcroft of the University of Colorado, Boulder, captures occupational identity by association. The metaphor elucidates how occupations come to appear "naturally" possessed of features that fit certain people, yet are improbable for others.
The book is an important compendium of reflections and research on the issues of women's leadership in academia, but many of the chapters are meaningful for all social and economic environments.
One chapter on mentoring, authored by Dr. Mariko Silver, president and CEO of the Henry Luce Foundation and former president of Bennington College, notes that a mentor network needs to start as early as high school. She notes "complete self-starters are unicorns." As Bill Withers sang, "We all need somebody." Even those who have already achieved great success benefit from mentoring and networking. Dr. Silver offers an anecdote about Janet Napolitano and her offer to come to DC to work for the Obama administration. As meaningful as the offer itself was the support from a mentor to "be willing to put yourself at the center of things when the appropriate opportunity arises."
Happy reading and listening!