**Update: The ASA now has a clear link listed on their website. Visit their website for the most up-to-date information**
Because it wasn’t immediately clear where the ASA’s Call for Papers was when I followed the link the ASA is tweeting, I provide it here. Hopefully someone benefits from having it presented in its typical format rather than having to navigate the submission portal to even consider where you might submit something.
Last week the Daily Nous, a philosophy website, relaxed its commenting rules and allowed readers to anonymously comment in one of its threads using a fake email address. The thread asked, “Grad Students: What Would You Tell Your Prof(s), But Can’t?” Continue reading “you are not alone.”
This coming week I will be two-thirds of the way through a medical leave – a paid medical leave that I almost didn’t take because I somehow felt it wasn’t warranted. My reluctance to take advantage of a benefit – offered by my university, supported by my colleagues, and recommended by a doctor who knows more about physiology and recovery than I do – is a problem.
Without a doubt, part of this hesitation is just me and my personality.* However, it was also the product of more widespread issues that I wanted to highlight here. I also wanted to share the wisdom of others that finally gave me the courage to take the leave in hopes that someone else will do the same. Continue reading “take the leave.”
In 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were competing for the Democratic nomination, my then-eight-year-old son and I had a conversation about this being a year of potential firsts and the significance either nomination would hold for all kinds of people who would finally see a bit of themselves in the election, and hopefully the White House.
I asked him who he thought needed the significant first more.
He thought about it for a minute or two and then said, “I think that Hillary Clinton should be the nominee, that girls and women need it more.” When I asked him why, he told me, “It’s like this, Mom. At recess, no matter what color you are, you’re invited to play in the football game – but only if you’re a boy. No girls are ever allowed to play.”*
I was thrilled to see Obama run for and win the presidency, as was my son. I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m glad that today we are one step closer to having a woman hold our country’s highest office. Hopefully the policies have changed on the playground, too.
*Of course, with concerns far beyond recess football, this year – like many other left-leaning high school sophomores – he rooted for Bernie Sanders.
I just sent my final email* as my department’s Director of Graduate Studies. If I had the energy, I’d throw a party to celebrate the end of my term, but I don’t think I have it in me. Instead, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on what I learned, in hopes that others who want to be an advocate for graduate students (whether in an official position or not) might find some use for what worked and what didn’t over the last three years:
Continue reading “lessons learned.”
I read two seemingly unrelated professionalization pieces last week: The Chonicle‘s “Operation Keep My Job” and IHE‘s “Advice from an Outlaw Writer.” The two couldn’t be more different from one another. Bethany Albertson discusses a number of the insights anyone seeking professionalization will hear time and again (e.g., “just say no,” “ask for help,” “keep trying”) and Jane Ward encourages us to work against common refrains -“don’t chip! binge!”
However, they shared an important wisdom – although articulated differently – urging caution in how we connect with those around us. Continue reading “the stories we tell.”
There’s a tenure-track academic job I hear students talk about – one with work-life balance and a forty-hour work week and at least two weeks (but hopefully an entire summer) of carefree, completely unplugged vacation; one where you have all the autonomy and prestige of a professor, along with job security and a professional level paycheck, but there aren’t external pressures on your time except for those that you select because they’re consistent with your values and life goals…that job – that does not exist. And, even if it did, you would not increase your chances of landing such a job by eschewing the professional advice of faculty or colleagues because they are seen as somehow biased toward a different kind of job, one that just doesn’t fit you or your life goals.
Continue reading “the mythical job.”
As I have admitted before, I am a terrible electronic file-keeper. If I was to count up the minutes I have wasted in the last 15 years searching for files that should have been easy to find or typing and retyping Stata code that would have (and should have) been a simple do-file or doing web searches for things that I read that I thought I wanted to include in lectures or powerpoints or articles but couldn’t place, I fear I would discover many months of my life wasted as a result of my organizational ineptitude.
For a long while, these bad habits only affected me (and the occasional collaborator). It was my wasted time and effort. Now, though, expectations are changing and this type of disorganization can make or break a career. I think about my dissertation data and related files, strewn about floppy disks and disparate folders, and I feel both shame and fear. Continue reading “ask a scatterbrain: managing workflow.”
I am wrapping up my second year as DGS in my department. Over the last couple years I’ve made some small, but significant changes in our grad program and I’m finally beginning to see the results. Now that I’ve found my sea legs (just in time for my term to end next summer), I’m ready to tackle something new: improving our support for students on the market. Continue reading “ask a scatterbrain: supporting students on the job market.”
As a follow-up to Dan’s posting of the Junior Theorists Symposium’s call for papers last year, here is the recently released schedule. By the looks of it, 2015’s event promises to live up to the JTS’s reputation as a lively and thought-provoking way to kick off the ASA meetings. The event is open to all.*
Junior Theorists Symposium
University of Chicago
Social Sciences Room 122
August 21, 2015
Continue reading “2015 junior theorists symposium (jts) schedule”
Update (4/15/15): I’ve since heard that this idea emerged in a class at Price’s undergraduate institution, Seattle Pacific University (also where I became a Sociology major thanks to a class taught by another Price). In other words, having students consider how social science can inform their own lives and future decision-making as part of classes could have a tremendous impact on how they carry that knowledge into the world. Something academics should take seriously and cultivate.
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I have long been fascinated by quests to live out proscriptions (whether Oprah’s advice, The Bible, or the myriad other things people decide to do and blog about for a year). When I read today’s headline about the CEO who was raising his lowest paid worker’s salary to $70,000, I was anything but fascinated. But tonight, a friend’s Facebook post inspired me to actually read the article.
Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments isn’t only raising his employee’s salaries, he’s also lowering his own from 1 million to just $70,000. What inspired him to pull the lowest up and his own down?
Continue reading “living social science.”
As a follow-up to previous scatterplot discussions of impostorism, I thought that some readers might be interested in participating in an online study of faculty well-being, self-regulation, and the impostor phenomenon:
h/t: Shit Academics Say
I apparently attended the same session at the ASA conference as Scott Jaschik yesterday, one on Gender and Work in the Academy. He must have been the guy with press badge who couldn’t wait to fact-check his notes during the Q&A.
The first presenter, Kate Weisshaar from Stanford University, started the session off with a bang with her presentation looking at the glass ceiling in academia, asking whether it was productivity that explained women’s under-representation among the ranks of the tenured (or attrition to lower-ranked programs or out of academia all together). A summary of her findings – and a bit of detail about the session and the session organizer’s response to her presentation – appeared in Inside Higher Ed today. Continue reading “productivity, sexism, or a less sexy explanation.”
I just wrapped up a two week course for graduate students on effective and engaging teaching in the social sciences and humanities. The first day of class, as we talked about issues we’d like to cover over the session, one student asked how to ensure that teaching doesn’t take up all her time so that she can actually finish her dissertation.
I outlined my core belief when it comes to teaching (don’t reinvent the wheel) and a handful of strategies I had discovered worked well for work-life balance in general: have a strict schedule and clearly outlined goals, and be sure to block out time for your non-student self.* I made an off-hand remark about how, in my research on graduate students, I found that students with children were much better at all three of those things than students without, but particularly the last one, because they felt they had a good excuse for “turning off” their grad student role.
The student who originally asked the question piped up, “Oh, I get that. I’m great at calling it a day to go take care of my dog.” I asked her to pretend, for just a moment, that her dissertation was as important as her dog. If she could stop herself from writing too many comments on her students’ papers or tweaking the reading list again or over-preparing for the next day’s lectures because she knew she had to go home to take her dog out, surely she stop herself from doing all those things because she had to take care of her own research.
Bottom line: Setting aside time for your research while you’re teaching isn’t neglecting your students, it’s taking care of you and your career (and ensuring you can still afford dog food when you finish your PhD).
*It can be tough, because of all the immediate reinforcement that teaching and the classroom provides, but as Jeremy illustrates, anything (including research or ones dissertation) can be turned in to a game that offers similar psychological incentives.
A colleague of mine has set up a writing accountability group for the summer. They’ll check in once a week to see how the past week went and to map out the coming week. The group is not explicitly about reading one another’s work, but about ensuring that such work is accomplished. I thought some of her questions and concerns would be a worthwhile discussion to have with a wider audience and something that others who might plan such groups could benefit from.
- Should these groups be about encouragement, measuring progress, evaluating goal achievement, all of the above, or something else?
- If the group is about encouragement, how can one balance encouragement with enabling? What happens if someone always has an excuse for why they’re not writing? Should they continue to be part of the group?
- If the group is about progress, what are some of the ways that we can measure progress on intellectual work when it’s not always clear-cut (e.g., an argument is developing, even if I haven’t written the introduction, the paper might not be getting longer, but it’s getting more polished) ?
- If the group is about setting and evaluating goals, what type of goals are most effective? Is it better to say, “I’ll finish the data and methods section of Paper A this week,” or to say, “I will actively work on Paper A five days this week,” or something in-between?
- Are there ways for fellow group members to motivate progress and goal achievement? Gold stars worked in grade school, but what works in grad school or on the tenure-track?
- If someone is working on a number of projects, should they work on each of these a little each week, or focus on them one at a time? Is it possible for people to move projects forward in tandem, in ways that are mutually beneficial, or does multitasking come with too much of a cost?
Finally, are there other things that readers would suggest about such groups? Do you have good success stories, things to be wary of? Any feedback is welcome.
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