Feminism | Posted by Katherine P on 01/16/2012

Is This Really What I’m Going To Face?

are my academic dreams possible

are my academic dreams possible?

I’ve always wanted to be a historian, and not just your run of the mill historian but one that changes the study and review of the discipline. But I’ve faced a problem, it’s such a subtle problem that I almost missed it, but in hindsight I realise it’s something I need to tackle head on.

To begin with, you must meet my male friend, J, now J and I are best friends due to our love of history. In fact we both want to study it in university, the difference being that J wishes to be a teacher and I wish to be an academic. During my final year of High School, J and I and others were asked continually what we wished to study.

Friend: So, what do you want to study after school?

Me: History

Friend: Oh, so you’re going to be a history teacher?

Me: No, an academic.

Friend: Oh

That was standard conversation with me. It contrasts significantly with conversations with J.

Friend: So J, what are you going to study?

J: History

Friend: Ah, you’ll be great at that. I can see you as a future historian, good career choice for you.

J: No I want to be a teacher

Friend: Cool, yeah you’d be awesome.

Is it sad that I, a female, was naturally assumed to be studying history in order to become a history teacher? Or my friend J, due to being male assumed to becoming a historian? Not only do I face stereotypes but so does my friend J. However, in this day and age males coming into the teaching profession is more common place than women entering academic fields. What I think is even sadder is the reactions we got, the stereotypes and assumptions have been so ingrained that the idea of me being an academic seemed odd.

Not only that, but I have been warned by female academics about jobs. They warn me about having children, telling me that after they had kids getting work was more difficult then I could ever imagine. I want to have a career and children, I don’t want either to be sacrificed. I think that motherhood and employment are two very important factors in a functioning society and I just want to contribute to both, as an equal.

But this is only the start. And it is complete and utter bullshit. What other challenges with I have to face? Mentorship issues? Discrimination?

What decisions should I make? Should I give up my career once I have children? Will society allow me to continue what I love, but look down on me? Can I juggle motherhood and a career, without people judging me?

Will I be judged on my ability, not my gender?

I’m 18 and already I wonder.

But you know what? I shall overcome. Be the best that I can be.

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  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 4:08 pm, January 16th, 2012

    Academia is certainly a difficult career path for everyone, but it’s particularly hard for women at this point. Hopefully things will change sooner rather than later.

    It’s funny, because as a kid I always thought that teaching history was a “guy thing,” probably because the chair of the social studies dept at my school was a guy. (He was the best teacher I ever had, he actually got me into feminism. I’m still really close with him.)

  • Rach @ at 5:48 pm, January 16th, 2012

    what gets me is that in the past only men were teachers and only women can be, we shouldn’t be pinned down by our genders

  • Kate N @ at 6:37 pm, January 16th, 2012

    I wish you good luck in your academic journey. I am majoring in history myself at a university and I’m not quite sure if I’ll be a historian or a teacher yet. Hopefully the field does change, for both of us.

  • Katherine P @ at 1:44 am, January 17th, 2012

    Thanks for telling me you were going to publish this F Bomb hahahaha.

    Yeah, my Head of History was male, but it kind was a bit embarrassing, not just for me, but for my friend J.

  • Amy CT @ at 9:33 pm, January 17th, 2012

    I’m a History Major, specialising in memories of war, and academia is one thing I’m looking seriously at as a career path after university.

    I have to disagree, though – I’m British, and I suppose that the problem you see might be American specifically, because I have never once encountered negativity from others when I tell them about my ambitions. My professors are approximately half and half of each gender, and all are equally supportive.

    Also, I don’t think that there is such a thing as a “run of the mill” professional historian.

    Good luck!

  • Katherine P @ at 7:31 pm, January 23rd, 2012

    Hahahaha, I’m not American darling I’m Australian. I guess I’m kind of scared because what I’m interested in historically is very limited over here. Thank you for your good luck though.

  • Amy CT @ at 10:45 pm, January 23rd, 2012

    Oops – my bad. I just assumed American, I guess. But I study in Australia, so… :)

  • Belgisch wetsvoorstel zet subtiel seksisme op de kaart « De Zesde Clan @ at 1:58 am, January 30th, 2012

    [...] zult falen’, dan is de kans groter dat een vrouw zich niet thuis voelt, zich dom gaat voelen, op gaat zien tegen het waarmaken van haar ambities. Want als ze dat wil, hoeveel obstakels komt ze dan wel niet tegen? Dat lukt noooooit… [...]

  • Belgisch wetsvoorstel zet subtiel seksisme op de kaart | blankemannenbolwerk @ at 5:13 pm, January 30th, 2012

    [...] jij zult falen’, dan is de kans groter dat een vrouw zich niet thuis voelt, zich dom gaat voelen, op gaat zien tegen het waarmaken van haar ambities. Want als ze dat wil, hoeveel obstakels komt ze dan wel niet tegen? Dat lukt [...]

  • Jen @ at 8:42 pm, August 27th, 2012

    It is certainly possible to work in academia and have a family. Professors largely set their own hours, and usually have access to decent health insurance, daycare, etc. However, don’t marry another academic. If you marry, marry a man who’s not too ambitious about his job/career and would be comfortable moving to accommodate your career. When there are one or two places in the world where you can get hired and one or two places in the world where your husband can get hired and they don’t overlap, that makes life difficult.

    Oh, and try to stick to men who can cook and keep a clean apartment. You don’t want to be stuck as a full-time homemaker on top of your full-time day job, so it’s essential to have a man who will be a support rather than a hindrance.

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