Tag Archives: empowerment

Women in Academia


In this article, a group of female History professors are interviewed, and showcased in colorful and feminine and appropriate attire. Some might find it “disempowering”. Some say the title belittles women. I’m not so sure about that…

First off, I LOVE when a female professor that I work for comes into the office wearing a leopard print dress and high top boot converses and says “Im a badass, I wear what I want.” She embraces her power as a serious intellectual but doesn’t feel the need to downplay her femininity or ability to express herself through fashion.

From the article, however, they ask the same kinds of questions that a journalist would ask male professors: “Why the Tudors?, If you could go back in time…, What do women bring to the way we see history?”

Aren’t these too the same questions that we ask ourselves as educated women—what do I, as a voice that has been surprised and shut down, bring to the world of scholarly work? The article itself reads like an interest piece about a few awesome women in the History world.

As to the “History Girls” thing—I think this is a function of living in a society wherein formality and respect are on the decline on ALL fronts. I can one hundred percent imagine an article in The Atlantic showcasing “The History Boys”—except of course, that Men in academia are so run of the mill and standard that they would have to be an exceptional group of men to even be showcased. This also reminds me of the idea that along with an increase in awareness and support for marginalized groups will come an increase in attention and special treatment—yes women, we have not completely won the fight, but in the mean time, we will continue to be in the news for every gosh darn thing we do because it still surprises people!

Do we like when women are showcased or not? Cause sometimes it seems like there is backlash on both fronts?

And yes, they are dressed up, but isn’t the point that Academia has been dominated by old white men for so long, that heck, lets talk about some kickass women who are equal to or better in intellect? Yes, the picture dolls them up but they were in an article, therefore there has to be a picture. And some of them are in pant suits, and ALL of them are appropriately dressed. —yes, contemporary, colorful, and feminine (but I dare say that if the article dressed them up in ugly jackets and slacks instead, someone would complain that the article was suggesting that women in academia just have to look like men or want to be men).

Additionally, I understand the annoyance with “History Girls” but when society does not respect academia the way it did years ago, I wouldn’t expect anything less. That is what annoys me the most. We can trivialize the work that a PhD does down to a few sentences in a questionnaire? Do an expose! Write a long essay and publish it as a biographical piece! These women poured years and years into becoming experts, don’t ask them to boil their ideas down into a few sentences!

But then again, should we be happy that people are taking note at all? —Probably.


by | November 4, 2013 · 4:50 pm

What does “Women Empowerment” really mean?


Also published on PolicyMic

Women today are bombarded by the words “agency” and “choice” all day long. We are to be strengthened by our progress and inspired enough by it to progress even further. Empowerment has become the new pastime.

Such that in response to “what did you do today?” I would not be surprised to learn that my female friend “went to work, read some news, gained some power, went grocery shopping, and ate dinner while basking in agency.”

This is not to belittle our achievements, trust me, I am glad that women have come so far; however, progress requires reflection, and it seems that our “movement” could use a healthy dose of it.

Frankly, it gets exhausting reading piece after piece about how “women can do everything men do” and “women should do whatever they want.” Since when do we want anyone doing whatever they want? Oh right, we don’t — that is what laws are for. I have been raised to respect the obstacles that women have overcome, and that I too can overcome them, but that those women engaged in deep thought about what was true and good and that our freedom as women was gained because it was right, not because it seemed to fulfill our urges at the time.

So sure, we can do what men can do — if of course you buy that men and women do “certain” things — but does that mean that I want to do everything that men do? I can certainly choose to urinate standing up but I happily leave my stereotypical male counterparts to choose this odd practice.

Even still I agree that we should continue to strive for boundless agency and unlimited choice. However, unlike my recent interlocutors in what seems to be the modern on-line version of Plato’sSymposium, I have a few definitional changes:

“Agency” does not always mean action. It can, and should mean knowing when and how to act. Careful consideration of how powerful our agency is, demands that we do, and not do.

“Choice” does not refer to any choice, but rather, choosing what is right and good for you, even when our more carnal faculties tell us otherwise.

“Power” is exercised through knowledge — knowledge of one’s emotional, psychological, physical and sexual health. Making the same stupid mistakes that men have supposedly made for centuries by ignoring the very real and important impact that thoughtless sexual activity renders, is not empowerment.

If a woman has put thought into her actions, can she do what she wants? Yes, but let us not be fooled — the years and tears of strong women before us was not so we could go out and have rampant and meaningless sex. This was and is a fight for the ability to make choices, not for the choices themselves.

Though, having the choice of a big gulp does not necessitate drinking one. We should foster a society where making good choices is exercising agency, not succumbing to a lack of it.

Further, our mothers before us fought to give us choice, but desired for us to make good ones. Ones that respect our value and search for value in return. Ones that place us not only on par with our male counterparts, but ahead of them — meaning doing things they wouldn’t do because we are better for it.

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