the stigma of the spousal hire

As a grad student, I never gave a moment of thought to being a spousal hire. Like so many grad students in top 20 departments, especially pre-recession, I thought that I had somehow earned a tenure-track position somewhere with a 2-2 because I had beenĀ a good student, graduate assistant, and department citizen. I had done everything that I was told to, checking off just about every box on a grad student’s to do list: collaborate with faculty – check, teach – check, present in an ASA session – check, publish a sole-authored, peer-reviewed piece – check, win a teaching and/or paper award – check and check, forge network connections – check. I realized at the time that I wasn’t going to be a superstar but, whether it stemmed from naivete or optimism, I was certain that I would get a job – and a good one – on my own merit.

Sure enough, I got a job – and a good one – but I’ll never know if it was on my own merit and I’m not sure it really matters. Regardless of how things really went down, I am still married to one of those superstars and, as long as we are in the same department, there are people who perceive me as a spousal hire, including me.

Continue reading “the stigma of the spousal hire”

gwen lister, courageous journalist, steps down

In 1985, in the midst of the Apartheid occupation, an incredibly courageous journalist, Gwen Lister, founded The Namibian, an independent, populist newspaper. It became one of very, very few independent papers to take up the cause of The People after independence. I worked for The Namibian in 1991-1992 as it was making the transition from fighting for national independence to being fiercely independent itself. Gwen stepped down as editor earlier this month, handing over the reins to protege Tangeni Amupadhi and fulfilling a long-term goal of letting the paper survive past her leadership. CNN did a great special on Gwen’s life work:

Congratulations, Gwen, on a brave and amazing career at The Namibian.

what a summer!

Gosh, it’s been quite a summer – five separate trips not including ASA, and major family transitions. We moved to a new house, my kids both started new schools, and I did a lot of policy-related work early in the summer alongside. With all that, I miss scatterplot and my scatterbrained colleagues! I’ve been trying to read when I can, but haven’t written in a long time.

Look for that to change soon. I’m planning a long post about the feedback on our study on the Tea Party Movement; another on plagiarism and UNC’s honor court; and some retrospective stuff on disappointment and anger at President Obama, among many others. See you soon!

montessori, revisited

Some years ago, Dan Myers wrote a series of posts on his awesome (now invitation-only) blog that inspired me to send my kid to Montessori school. Kid was 3, and school was just around the corner anyway, so I looked into the local options, and I found a great school. He went all though pre-school there and is still there, just about to finish Grade 1 (Canadians would want you to notice that they say Grade 1, not first grade).

One of the things about Montessori is that they don’t evaluate the kids’ learning in the usual way with tests and report cards and notes home. There is good research on this that shows that the love of the gold star or the A+ will undermine the love of learning itself as kids want to get praised rather than learn more. It’s a strikingly different approach than public school, which gives near-constant feedback to kids and parents about how they are doing and whether they are ahead or behind. Continue reading “montessori, revisited”

goodbye, dad

I am out at my parents’ house in California this week, working through some tough times again. My father’s battle with Alzheimer’s came to an end, and as usual, Alzheimer’s won. Memorial services for my dad will be tomorrow. I am so thankful that I arrived in time to see my dad one last time, and to tell him stories about his grandson and tell him how much I love him. He was only awake for about half an hour, and he couldn’t talk at all, even though he had so much to say. He clapped his hands to show me he was happy to see me and the rest of the family. Then, he fell asleep, and his embattled brain continued turning off the light switches and shutting the blinds until he passed away last Saturday night.

Continue reading “goodbye, dad”

vacation wrap-up: heading home

I’m sitting in the dark in our hotel room, as I have done every night this week. Kid’s bedtime is 8pm, and what is there to do besides sit quietly and read? I hadn’t even figured out that he can fall asleep with the computer glow on until last night. Before that, I was reading in the bathroom. My life is glamorous.

I come away from this trip with no complaints whatsoever, which is rather unusual for a visit home, even before my folks became ill. Now that I think about it, I haven’t kept the blog up to date on my folks; bad news is not my favorite to blog. Continue reading “vacation wrap-up: heading home”

kickass women

Back when blogs were young, we didn’t really know what they would do. I started blogging to keep in touch with my close friends from grad school, as we had all recently moved away from each other. I named my first blog Kickass Women, in their honor. I sent my friends invitataions to blog, and I started writing posts.

It turns out that there are bloggers, and then there is eveyone else. My friends, kickass as they are, are not bloggers, and they did not blog. Fail.

So I am extra excited to be sitting in the airport right now, waiting to fly out to meet up with two of these original kickass women. We have a great weekend ahead of us.

A lot has happened for the three of us since that first blog: three more blogs, two kids, two new jobs, several grants, a book, several articles, chapters and research reports, a major career change, and two marathons. It is hard to wrap my brain around it.

I think I am glad that my friends are not bloggers, so we have this reason to get together in person to catch up on everything.. With a glass of wine, in front of the fire. Like real people.