In this week’s Wednesday 5: the “baby penalty'”for women in academia; women who are afraid of the “A” word—Ambition; the poetry of Joni Mitchell; girls caught in Colombia’s drug wars; and artist Janet Goldner continues to be inspired by Mali.



The ‘Baby Penalty’ for Women in Academia

Mary Ann Mason, co-author of Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower, writes in Slate that for many women in academia, having a family means NOT having it all. After a decade of studying female academics,  the author  found:

For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer. And women who do advance through the faculty ranks do so at a high price. They are far less likely to be married with children. We see more women in visible positions like presidents of Ivy League colleges, but we also see many more women who are married with children working in the growing base of part-time and adjunct faculty, the “second tier,” which is now the fastest growing sector of academia.

What Mason outlines is a serious and ongoing battle. However, we find her advice that “it is time for women to ‘lean in’ and demand family policies that will at least give them a fighting chance to have both a successful career and babies” too simplistic and misses the entrenched institutional barriers that often keep women from tenure. And what about women of color in academia? Where do they stand in the debate?



A Is for Ambition

If women in academia continue to battle glass ceilings, it’s certainly not for lack of ambition. In her article “The Scarlet A,” for ELLE, Leslie Bennetts poses the question: “Why are women so afraid to say they want power and so unwilling to plot a course to get it?” So, first we should qualify Bennett’s question—not ALL women have this problem; indeed, none of the women we know have a problem with the “A” word—but it’s certainly a valid question for many. We were curious about the shyness and passivity surrounding ambition, and found this explanation interesting:

Women tend to be neutered by elevated status. “Even highly successful and ambitious women, like CEOs I’ve interviewed, are loath to identify themselves as ambitious because they feel it desexualizes them,” says Anna Fels, MD, a psychiatrist and author of Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives.

Does this imply is that women place sexuality above power and ambition? And are these women willing to compromise power and success to remain “liked” and “desired?” . . 3. . Joni Mitchell—a True Poet . At 69 years old, Joni Mitchell continues to touch her generation and inspire younger generations with her poetry and prose. One such inspiree, music writer Josh Jones, admits in Open Culture that he failed to understand the depth of Mitchell’s songs and worldview: “I mistook the softness of the music for cheap sentimentality. This careless listening led me wrong, especially in the case of Mitchell, whose songwriting is perhaps as poetic, complex, and yet as honest as it gets.” Jones conjures up the 2003 CBC documentary on Mitchell’s life and work. And for this week’s dose of inspiration, we remind you of the brilliance and poignancy that is Joni Mitchell. .

Joni Mitchell – Woman of Heart and Mind (2003)



Girls Caught in the Drug Wars of Colombia

When we read about the overwhelming problem of drug wars in Colombia, how often do we think of the toll and impact of that violence on families, and particularly on young girls? Photographer Zoraida Lopez thinks about those girls often. She traveled to the countryside in Colombia to document the families caught in the crossfire and displaced because of a dangerous drug trafficking climate. In her photo essay for OF NOTE magazine, she writes of “Clarita” (pictured below):

“Clarita” and her pet bird along a mountainside in Minca, Colombia. Clarita’s entire family lost their home to paramilitary drug traffickers in the mid-1990s. She now lives in a small family farm with her parents, older brother, and younger sister. Her grandparents also lost their land and now live along the same mountainside.

Image-one-1024x737                                                                                                                                               Zoraida Lopez

Read Zoraida Lopez’s full photo essay, “Girls Caught in Colombia’s Drug Wars” at OF NOTE magazine.



Women of Art: Janet Goldner

Our Janet Goldner, who writes on her travels in West Africa, is featured in the summer issue of Persimmon Tree talking about her sculptural works, which have been inspired by her yearly trips to and love for Mali—a country that has been making plenty of headlines recently for its political unrest. Despite the current climate, Janet has remained committed to the work she does in Mali with women and other artists. She continues to mentor women artists and help to create employment for rural women through textile projects. Read more about her work here.

PT26-Art2-1024x321                                                                                                                                                                                                    ZigZags, Janet Goldner

Join the conversation

  • Nicholas H. Wolfinger July 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Our book describes at length many new policies universities can adopt in order to level the playing field and increase family friendliness for women and men alike.