Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

7 Things I’m Going to Accomplish This Summer

Summer is almost upon us, with most of our fellow political scientists either in the process of giving finals, grading finals, or submitting final grades.  I can see the Promised Land. We’re almost to summer, guys.

So, here are the

7 Things I’m Going to Accomplish This Summer:

  1. Finish my APSA paper.  Okay, okay.  START my APSA paper.
  2. Get an article out for review.  I’m like thisclose to finishing this article up.  Just a few more tables and I’m good to go.
  3. Start a new article.  I’ve had ideas cooking all semester, and I haven’t had a chance to actually get any of them on paper.
  4. Work on that new course prep.  I’m finally getting to teach the course I’ve been begging to teach for years this fall. Which means I need to actually write it.
  5. Revise curriculum requirements.  The committee that I shouldn’t have volunteered for has been slacking. Summer will be the time to catch up.
  6. Read more political science.  Pretty sure I haven’t picked up a journal since my second baby was born.
  7. Get that July conference presentation ready.  I forgot I submitted to that conference. Probably need to figure out what I’m going to say.

 

hahahaha guys. I’m totally kidding.  Let me write the real list:

Thing I’m Going to Accomplish This Summer:

  1. NETFLIX.
Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

The 5 Types of Couples in Political Science

At first, I thought it was weird how many political scientists are married to each other.  I mean, do they actually talk about political science at home? How horrible is THAT?  I’ll leave my political science at the office, thank you very much.

As I’ve been in the discipline for a while, I’ve seen my share of political science couples, and in traditional Poli Sci Bitches format, I’m presenting you a list of the 5 Types of Couples in Political Science:

  1. The Famous Power Couple.  These are political scientists who probably met in grad school, and have been together ever since.  They both have extensive CVs and awesome books. Maybe a few of them are co-authored with each other, but their individual contributions stand alone. Everyone knows who they are, and if they’re on the job market, universities go out of their way to make sure they both get full time faculty positions.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Beyonce & Jay Z. Even Obama wants to hang out with them.
  2. The Imbalance of Power Couple.  So, one of them is a star with a CV that goes on for days, and book deals in the works.  A rising star in the discipline, maybe. On some editorial boards and making a name for him/herself.  But the political science spouse? Not so much.  Maybe some good teaching evaluations, but not many publications.  The spouse gets hired too, of course, but no one in the department is very happy about it.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe. She didn’t even remember him in her Oscars acceptance speech.
  3. The Spouse Who Gets Hired As Staff.  One political scientist, and then another political scientist who somehow gets hired to do advising or run the Model U.N. program or something.  Weird, right?  It’s great for the department because building inroads in administration can be helpful. Also, getting gossip from the Other Side is nice. Everyone likes the Staff Spouse because staff make our lives easier.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. We love them, and the fact that he’s more famous than she is doesn’t bother anyone.
  4. The Couple With A Guy Who Likes Students. A Lot. So gross, but sadly too common.  In its “best” form, this political scientist collects pretty young female grad students to “mentor” but doesn’t cross the line.  At worst, the guy cheats on his wife with undergrads.  Yes, I’m calling it a guy, because it almost always is, but women who cheat on their husbands with students are also equally gross, for the record.  Unfortunately, the guy has tenure and the nature of academia means that running him out is an uphill battle.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Don’t sleep with the nanny, Ben.
  5. The Non-Academic Spouse Couple.  This person married smart and doesn’t have to talk about political science at home.  The spouse probably has a way cooler job than political science (professional chef! movie critic! hacker!) but is usually ignored at political science events anyway.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: George and Amal Clooney.  Remember when all anyone cared about was her baby bump at her U.N. hearing?

 

parksandrec

Uncategorized

The Academic Hierarchy: Observations from #MPSA17

I always love Chicago and MPSA, and this year’s conference was fantastic. I loved seeing friends from grad school, friends from former jobs, coauthors, friends of friends. Oh, and the panels and learning, too (can’t forget that part).  The conference was fantastic this year, and MUCH gratitude to the program/section chairs, and to all of the staff that worked hard to make it so great!

One thing that was particularly noticeable to me this year was the academic hierarchy. In typical Poli Sci Bitches fashion, here is our list of 3 Examples of Academic Hierarchy, as observed at MPSA.

  1. At my panel. My panel was sort of a unique hodge-podge, as many of them are. I can’t even imagine the challenge of trying to find 3-5 papers that are thematically similar, especially in some of the more obscure sub-sub-subfields.  So, perhaps no surprise: my paper was almost in direct contradiction with another paper in the panel.  Being confident in my work, I presented my contradictory finding, and during the Q&A, the author of the other paper (who was significantly older and more tenured than I am) started talking about some research design suggestions that I know are simply inaccurate. But, being the less tenured one, I felt less confident speaking up, or throwing shade.  Strike One for Academic Underlings.
  2. At the bar.  Everyone knows the look. It’s the checking-out-of-the-name-tag. Someone approaches, and before you’ve even had a chance to say hello, they’re looking for your affiliation on your badge.  If it isn’t good enough, they’ll probably take less of their time talking to you.  But it was especially interesting this year, because half of these people follow The Bitches on Twitter! Little did you know, Mr. CHYMPS, that you just liked my post a few hours ago 🙂  Honestly, almost everyone at the conference was polite and friendly and did NOT Name Badge Shame me.  Even so, for those of us at smaller or less research intensive institutions, it’s Strike Two for Academic Underlings.
  3. With a vagina.  This year was a great year for women at MPSA, in my opinion. I was so pleased to see how active Women Also Know Stuff was on Twitter and at the conference in general.  I didn’t personally observe a single Manel.  But, we still have a long way to go.  “Women’s” subfields are still less valued. There are still plenty of panels with only ONE woman. And there’s still the inevitable possibility of getting hit on during a work event.  Strike Three for Academic Underlings. We have come a long way, but we can do better.

 

Hilarious But True · You Know You're a Political Scientist When...

You Know You’re a Political Scientist When… (MPSA Edition)

  1. You always forget how pretty the ceilings are in the Palmer House, but you NEVER forget how slow the elevators are.
  2. The discussions on Poli Sci Rumors about the best hookers in Chicago no longer shock or surprise you.
  3. Your entire trip to Chicago is filled with back-to-back cocktail hours with grad school friends, co-authors, former coworkers, current coworkers, and other “networking” opportunities.   “Dry Second Half of April” is the Political Scientist version of “Dry January.”
  4. More than half of your events in #3 involve a woman and a man having drinks unsupervised. Mike Pence would not approve.
  5. And you’re officially a political scientist when you’ve graduated from starstruck grad student to confident scholar at the bar. Now you’re the one the grad students ask for career advice (while hitting on you).
Conferences

MPSA Presentations: Finding Women Who Know Stuff!

The Americanist Bitch gets to go to MPSA this year (IR Bitch Note: I spent all my travel funds on ISA.)  and instead of finishing up the paper I’m supposed to be presenting, I’ve been combing the program for panels I want to go to.  I feel like I’m being really ambitious, but I’d like to attend at least TWO panels I’m not presenting on.  So, to make life easier for all of you who are similarly looking for interesting panels, I’ve created a handy list of a few panels, by subfield, where you can find Women Who Know Stuff!

Comparative Politics

Parties, Politics, and Institutions in Latin America

Interested in Latin America, and want to see a handful of women (that’s right! more than one!) presenting research on parties and bureaucracy? Check out this panel on Saturday at 9:45.

Political Violence

Gender, Discourse, and Radicalization: The Case of ISIS Jihadi Brides

Wow, talk about a fascinating (and maybe depressing?) topic, this roundtable is made up exclusively of women who definitely know stuff and political violence and gender.  Thursday at 11:30.

International Political Economy

Causes and Consequences of International Cooperation

Interested in trade agreements or the WTO? Check out this presentation on WTO negotiations. One woman surrounded by men. We’ve all been the Token Woman, so show up to support her on Thursday at 9:45.

Political Theory

Okay, to be honest, I’m not interested in theory. But Women Do Know Stuff about it, so if theory is your thing, find a theory panel that’s not a manel.

Methodology

Networks Theory and Applications

Women Who Methods are some of our role models, because it’s such a male-dominated subfield. Despite what Barbie told us as kids, Math is NOT hard for girls, at least not any harder than it is for boys, especially if there are great female role models in the field. Find one at this panel on Saturday at 8am (yikes) which features another woman surrounded by men.

Gender and Politics

Gender and the U.S. Supreme Court

As an Americanist, this one is right up my alley, and the papers are all similar thematically, which should make it a very interesting panel. Check out presentations by more than one woman, and then watch them discussed by more than one woman on Friday at 9:45.

Families, Politics, and Policymaking

The Bitches are both moms. This panel takes a look at some family situations and how that translates into politics and policy. Lots of great women presenting their research on Thursday at 11:30.

Teaching and Learning

Alternative Teaching Methods

I thought that zombies were on their way out, but apparently not, because there’s a really fun paper title in this panel. Teaching & Learning isn’t taken particularly seriously as a research agenda in political science, which is a shame because we’re uniquely situation to use our training as researchers to do great research on teaching.  Check out Zombies and more at this panel Saturday at 9:45.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are countless Women Who Know Stuff presenting at MPSA this year. Have a female scholar to recommend? Or want to promote yourself? Let us know, we want to promote you, too!

Being a Woman · Nature of Academia

A Day in the Life of (One) Academic Mom

Americanist Bitch is an academic — and a mom. Here, she gives a window into what that’s like in her individual day-to-day.

Because The Bitches really love that this important conversation was started. However, we felt it important to point out that the original description, while amusing and true for the author and for many mothers in academia, was a very specific and, honestly, quite privileged* point of view.  Different institutions and family situations make for very different days!

5:30 a.m. I wake up early, before the kids, to try and answer a few emails I received over night. The more emails I answer now, the more time I have later for class prep and maybe even- dare I dream it- research!

7:00 a.m. The kids are awake and getting fed and dressed. Man, I will be excited when the baby can change his own clothes and isn’t drinking bottles anymore. It’s hard to get dressed myself when he wants to latch onto my leg like a leech, which is most mornings. I need to find a nicer dress, because I’ll be seeing the President of the college at that reception thing later…

8:00 a.m. I take the kids to school, because my hours are more lenient than my full time, regular office-working husband’s. I get asked for the 14th time why I don’t come to more of their morning coffee socials, and could I please remember to bring more changes of clothes for the older one.

9:00 a.m. I’m finally in my office, a glorious hour of uninterrupted work time ahead- just kidding, my door is immediately slammed with student after student. I work at an LAC, where office doors are always open and students are ALWAYS around. Can I advise them which classes to take next semester? Can I sign these forms? Hey, you missed class yesterday, but NO I will not re-teach the entire hour just for you right here in my office.

10:00 a.m. I’m in a committee meeting. We’re deciding which faculty will get sabbaticals next year. I haven’t been here long enough to catch all the references from the old timers, but supposedly that guy in English has been waiting for years so it’s his turn. Hey, if I get tenure, maybe I’ll get a sabbatical! Does sleeping count as scholarly work? I have like, 5 years to catch up on. While they fight over who has contributed to the college longest, I squeeze in 3 extra slides on my PSCI 100 lecture about executive orders.

11:00 a.m. I’m meeting with more undergraduate students. Forget research- they still don’t understand the difference between federal courts and state courts. They really do want to learn (most of them, anyway), but geniuses these kids are not. Remember when I got to do original research on courts? No, I can’t either.

12:00 p.m. I’m teaching, lecturing, guiding, discussing. Classes are small enough that I can call on students by name. This is nice for building an atmosphere of fear, which I need because I’m a young woman in a male-dominated field.

1:00 p.m. Still teaching. In fact, I’ll be teaching for the next 2 hours as well, because my MWF are back-to-back and this is my 4 class load semester.

4:00 p.m. Another committee meeting, or more meetings with students. I MIGHT have five minutes to chat (bitch) with a colleague in the hallway about how the administration might be taking away our free parking spaces. Like I have more room in my paycheck for $50/year parking passes at my place of work?! Shit, we missed that reception thing with the President. We’re going to pay for that later, when they talk about our “collegiality.”

5:00 p.m. I retrieve the kids, and try to remember if we have food to cook in the fridge. Eh, better stop at Wal-Mart anyway because I KNOW I’m out of wine and it’s already been a long week. Is it a bath night? Can I convince my husband to let me work on a conference paper for an hour after dinner? It’s “due” in a week and I haven’t even started.

6:00 p.m. I’m too tired to cook dinner and my husband isn’t home yet, so McDonald’s it is. Those Happy Meals must have addictive properties, because to my kid no other restaurant exists. I get a McDouble with no cheese and that’s it, because I haven’t had time to work out in 6 years so I need to watch the intake. Did I remember to buy an apple to go on the side? Shit, did we have enough money in the account for what I just spent at Wal-Mart?! I think we got paid last Friday…

7:00 p.m. Nick Jr. for the kids because I need time to answer more student emails. They get really touchy if it takes too long (read: longer than 3 hours) for a faculty member to answer, and I have to be sensitive to that because we’re a tuition-driven institution. What time is my husband getting home again? Guess I’m not working on that conference paper until MUCH later. Hmm, I can’t remember what I’m teaching in theory tomorrow… No, theory is not my field, but everyone at my institution has to teach a little bit of everything.

8:00 p.m. Hubby is finally home, exhausted. But glad he’s around, because sometimes he travels for days at a time.  It’s a bath night so to the bathroom we go. We exchange pleasantries about our day while the kids splash. I have my tenure review coming up, so he tells jokes to get my mind off the million ways that could go wrong. He doesn’t really get why academia is so weird, and why I’d work this hard when I don’t even get to do that much research.

9:00 p.m. The kids are put in bed. They won’t be asleep for awhile, but I need to work on that conference paper like, yestermonth. Many faculty members at my institution no longer go to conferences, but I have dreams about moving up so I need to stay up in the field and network my ass off. Is there a conference going somewhere cool next year? I could add a couple days and make it a vacation…. hahahaha just kidding what’s a vacation?

10:00 p.m. Still writing. Still getting student emails.  Also trying to catch up on bill paying, because I have hospital bills from 4 years ago that we’re still paying off.  The constant thrum of bank account balances and bills is always running through my head.

11:00 p.m. I get in bed, mind whirling. I think about picking up a fiction book to read but no, I need to pull out Rousseau and brush up on Emile for tomorrow (God, I hope it’s Emile tomorrow). I finally fall asleep 30 minutes later, without having read much. Let’s be honest, the students haven’t either.

2:00 a.m. The older one needs to pee, and her yelling wakes up the baby. Fantastic!

5:30 a.m. I’m yanked from sleep by my alarm, so I can try to get another 30 minutes of email writing. A new day begins. I hope I have time for research today! Eventually, I will catch up on emails and student meetings and committee meetings and that new pre-law program the administration wants me to start…

*Americanist Bitch also acknowledges that the above description also entails certain privileges, like the tenure track, and a supportive husband. Non-tenure track or adjuncting moms, single moms in academia- what’s YOUR day like?

Departmental Politics · Hilarious But True · Tenure

Best Strategies for Earning Tenure (by Hogwarts House)

We’ve mentioned that we are untenured women (who are also bitches), which means we spend a good deal of time ruminating on the best strategies for making sure we get tenure when the time comes.  We’ve seen too many of our colleagues (many women, but of course, men too!) be denied tenure. Sometimes the reasons seem relatively clear-cut:  at the R1 university, three publications in six years won’t cut it. At the SLAC, failure to demonstrate enough service via committee participation or undergraduate research.  All the usual suspects.

We’ve also seen some sort of arbitrary reasons for tenure denial.  Crazy deans on power trips.  “Too many publications” (I didn’t know that was real).  Departments that don’t consider certain subfields to be worthwhile (I don’t even mean just gender stuff, either. Try being a Ukrainian elections person, or in some places, a political theorist).  Then the truly whacko reasons, like “took time off to have a baby” or “didn’t like his wife, who teaches in the German department.”

But we must all play to our strengths, and the tenure process is long and difficult.  And, because we’re not just Bitches but also Extremely Nerdy Bitches, we’ve provided some strategies for your success*, based on your Hogwarts House.

Ravenclaw

There are people who might say that Ravenclaws are most well suited to academia, and those people might actually be onto something.  If you’re a Ravenclaw, you’ve got a brilliant take on your topic, and your work is novel and insightful.  Even if you’ve chosen an obscure subfield, your groundbreaking methods and theory transcend the substantive choice.  Publish a lot. Publish really good stuff.  Publish in great journals, but publish in mediocre ones too, because even your mediocre work is more well written and better political science than everyone else’s best.  Get a bunch of grants, give a TON of invited lectures, maybe start a web series about your little corner of political science.  Then, just watch the votes roll in.

Slytherin

So, your work isn’t always brilliant. You won’t be willing any Nobel prizes any time soon.  But you’re competent, and best of all, you’ve got a knack for strategy.  Pick the field not that interests you the most, but that is the most up-and-coming and sexiest.  Write about experiments or social media or something.  Make friends with the Dean and with the people in your department who “matter.”  Your Slytherin skills should help you identify which those are.  Have a backup plan ready to go: maybe a cushy administrative job in reserve.  Spend your time claiming just the right amount of credit (not TOO much) for being on just the right university committees (but not ALL of them).  Then, if all else fails, Imperius the committee into voting for you.

Hufflepuff

Never forget that Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff, and he… well, he died at the end of the TriWizard Tournament, but let’s not talk about that right now.  If you’re a Hufflepuff, do what you do best. Be nice. Teach well. Get amazing evaluations, advise grad students and make sure they put out their best work. Keep your colleagues happy by asking a few thoughtful questions at faculty meetings and always voting with the majority. Never rock the boat, and publish in some lower end peer reviewed journals where you’re likely to get accepted, even though they don’t have the impact scores. At the end of the day, maybe people will feel too guilty to vote no.

Gryffindor

There are the Slytherins, who play the game, and there are the Gryffindors, who fight the system. Go ahead. Take on Gender and Politics as your primary area of research.  And when the department questions your research agenda, call them on their bull shit.  In valiant and eloquent terms, tell them why your research matters, and why equity in political science is so important.  Make friends, but stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone walk all over you at faculty meetings. You probably see the Slytherins as betraying your discipline. Maybe they are (isn’t that a Slytherin quality?) so make up for it by pushing for what’s right!  Now, you’d better have some publications and service on your record (Faculty Senate seems right for you), because all this fighting for what’s right might leave you a bit unpopular on the collegiality scale, but the discipline is counting on your courage and tenacity. Pave the way for future scholars!  For Godric Gryffindor!!

*Remember, we don’t even have tenure. We have no idea how to actually succeed at this.