This week I read two articles that prominently featured women. The first was published in the FedCan blog, the second was published in the National Post. Despite their vastly differing focuses and intended audiences I found myself making connections across the two articles, and friends, I find those connections worrying.
The FedCan article is entitled "Status of Women: Gender and the Ivory Ceiling of Service Work in the Academy." Published as a part of CFHSS's Equity Issues Portfolio on the Status of Women in the Disciplines and in the Academy the article considers reasons why tenured women are not seeking promotion to full professorship. "Service work continues to pull women associate professors away from research," write the authors, "what can be done?"
I won't rehearse the article in its entirety as you can read it for yourself. Suffice to say that the authors undertook a survey of (American) associate professors and found that
"On average, male associate professors spent 37 percent of their time on research, while women associate professors spent 25 percent of their time on research. While women associate professors spent 27 percent of their time on service, men spent 20 percent of their time on service. This dramatic difference suggests that men focus more on their research, which earns greater prestige and potential for promotion. One associate professor survey respondent reported difficulty balancing research, teaching, and service, commenting, 'In reality, only research matters when it comes to tenure and promotion, but service and teaching require lots of time.'"
The results chimed with a brilliant paper I saw Neta Gordon give at ACCUTE this spring on a panel called "The Corporate University." Gordon posed a direct question that--truth be told--I wish the authors of this article had asked. Might the value of service actually be devalued, she asked. In other words, and to use the statistics from the FedCan article, now that there are more women than ever earning PhDs, are 'high visibility service roles' actually less prestigious than they once were?
The second article I read this week featured women in abstentia. Much of my own research is on Canadian poetry and poetics, and I'm especially interested in acts of public poetics. So I was naturally disappointed that there was no way I could manage flying across the country to attend outgoing Vancouver Poet Laureate Brad Cran and his partner Gillian Jerome's brilliant V125. I kept track of goings on via Twitter and was pleased to see a write up of the event in a national newspaper...until I read it. With all due respect to the very fine writers mentioned in the article I have to ask: where are the women? Some of the most innovative, socially oriented, engaged poetics in Canada are being undertaken by women. And yet. No mention of a woman in this review. Not one. Where was Sachiko Murakami? Christine Leclerc? Nikki Reimer? Sue Goyette? Larissa Lai? Sonnet L'Abbé? Oana Avasilichioaei? I could go on.
Why the myopia? Why the disproportionate representation?