Two more interviews…

Two more interviews scheduled: Marymount Manhattan College, and University of Miami.

Had a pleasant meeting this afternoon; it looks like there's a good chance we'll be partnering with the Chicago Humanities Festival in some way for Kriti, which is really nice. They don't have masses of money to throw around, sadly, but they may be able to chip in some, and regardless, their publicity and prestige would be a tremendous help to our nascent organization. So here's hoping we can get someone to come that they'd be interested in...

After that, picked up my new interview suit (Xmas present from my folks, dark brown Anne Klein pantsuit with a dark red silk blouse, for those who care :-), plus a few other random items from downtown (shampoo, frozen bao), and came home. Exhausted, tense about jobs. I know it sounds like I'm doing really well on the job market -- up to ten interviews total, now, I think. But if you remember that most of these places are probably interviewing twenty candidates at MLA, then you realize that my chances are still only up to 50/50. And that assumes that this isn't actually what's going on:

from a Chronicle advice column:

"The reason this type of thing concerns me is that, as a woman and a racial minority, I am aware of being used to superficially comply with some internal or external diversity statistics. This has happened to me throughout my life in subtle and blatant forms -- everything from organizations pursuing grants wanting suddenly (and temporarily) to include me in their roster, to schools wanting a photo for their latest brochure or public-relations project. My mother, a racial minority and immigrant, and a Ph.D./academic since the late 1950's has faced, in my opinion, even more of this kind of exploitation. She has probably been shortlisted dozens of times with few offers. I imagine nearly all academic job-seekers face multiple rejections, yet the constant "runner-up" status resulting from this racial/gender tokenism -- taken together with some vocal white factions decrying all the "special treatment" women of color receive -- is particularly wearying and disheartening. I've seen it take its toll on my mother and, though I am seriously pursuing an academic career, I will pursue another if I find myself similarly exploited."

I still remember my freshman year, when my floor of the dorm at U of C was photographed for the calendar because we were the most racially-diverse floor on campus. Sigh. All of this could drive a girl mad.

Luckily, I had Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's The Grand Tour to distract me -- I found a beautiful used copy when I stopped by Powell's in Hyde Park yesterday. I read most of it last night, but I had about an hour's left today, which helped alleviate my stress. Feisty brave young women who do magic but also appreciate the value of a pretty dress are endlessly amusing. Except, of course, that when the book ends, you're back to being stressed again.

I think I'm coming down with something; woke up coughing, and my eyes are tight and sore at the moment. But I'm also too restless to just lie on the couch and watch tv, and too fretful to concentrate on writing at the moment. Going to go to the grocery store and pick up some stuff; maybe the walk there and back will help dissipate the restlessness, and if not, then at least I'll have food to cook with. It's a bit early, but I'm hosting a SAPAC meeting here on Sunday, potluck, and if I start making curry now, it should still be quite tasty (or even tastier) on Sunday.

6 thoughts on “Two more interviews…”

  1. Let’s hope to hell that the scenario from the Chronicle is not what is happening. That must be a really depressing possibility to contemplate, let alone endure.

  2. Okay, but realistically – I have a strong feeling you’re right. So… what does that realistically mean? Can you watch for exploitation? Can you ask why you don’t get jobs? Can you refuse to have your picture taken until you get tenure? Can you alert grant-giving organizations? And, the hardest question of all – is life any better out there outside the ivory tower or is this issue being played out across the board? I think the latter.

  3. I’m afraid the answer is essentially ‘no’ to all of the redress-seeking options. This is just one of those side effects of affirmative action that as far as I can tell, we just need to put up with for this moment in time. Frustrating for me, but so it goes.

    I still belive in affirmative action as a policy, so I can’t really bring myself to squawk over a fairly minor negative consequence.

    As for whether the issue is being played out across the board, I don’t think editors are generally responsible to report minority statistics to the government on the books they choose to publish. So at least for the moment, that area is relatively free of this, for better or worse.

  4. Keep something in mind. Even if some of the interviews are only occurring to “game” the affirmative action system, some folks you interview with may be (hell, WILL be) so impressed by you that you’ll get offered the job ANYWAY.

    Affirmative action can’t open an interviewer’s mind, but it can give you a fighting chance.

  5. I doubt this is happening, for two reasons:

    (1) The humanities have much less difficulty drawing women and minorities than the sciences–it’s the latter where this kind of tokenism is likely.
    (2) Affirmative action laws usually apply to underrepresented minorities–African Americans and Hispanics. Asians are usually considered over-represented on academic faculties, and therefore don’t count in these kinds of numbers.

    If you’re stressing about this, go to the websites of these departments and see if they’re all-white. The more white they are, the more likely this tokenism is at work–if they are already diverse, they don’t need you for diversity reasons, and are probably honestly interested in you; and if they *are* lily-white, then, as Sean says, at least the laws are forcing them to give someone non-white a chance.

  6. I’m really trying not to fret about this too much; whether it’s going on or not, there’s nothing I can do about it, and no way to tell. Better to just assume that isn’t what’s going on, I think, and that they do actually seriously want to interview me. I want to go into these interviews with a cheerful, enthusiastic, and positive attitude.

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