Wow. People have, of course, muttered about this for years (we certainly did and not much has changed in the ten years since I was a student), but it’s the first time I’ve seen it publicly debated. The students at comparative literature, where I did my MA, have issued an invitation to a debate next Wednesday titled “8 professors, 7 PhD students, only 1 woman: random?” (actually, depending on your brand of English, the Norwegian doesn’t necessarily translate as professors, and in other Englishes should be translated as “lecturers” or “faculty”, but you get the picture).

It’s quite obviously much easier to see the brilliance of a young person who reminds you of yourself as a young(er) person. On one level, this sucks; on another level it’s the reason we need diversity among teachers.

I’d noticed rather a lot of friendly, lovely, smart but very similar young men over at comp. lit. I hadn’t realised that none of the eight PhD students and post. doc.s at comparative literature were women. That is not only shameful, it’s stupid. You can’t use the “no qualified women applied” argument if you’re not actually trying to get some women in the recruitment positions.

5 thoughts on “gender balance

  1. Linn

    I’m not a literature student, but I really applaud the initiative for this debate! I might try to sneak myself in undercover to witness it!

  2. Martin

    Come! Bring all your friends!

  3. Silje Stavrum Norevik

    ?tte Ph.D? Jeg opererer med tallet sju, men vil selvsagt ha forsterket min empiri.

    Vennlig,
    Silje S.N.
    Fagutvalgsleder, litt.vit.

  4. Jill

    Silje, not 8 PhD students, but 8 PhD and post docs, i.e. 7 PhD students and 1 post. doc which means eight young researchers employed in so-called recruitment positions. Clumsily written, I guess.

  5. J. Nathan Matias

    Agreed. It’s a dubious honor, but I was rather pleased with the number of women at the Hypertext conference. There seemed to be more at HT05 than I have seen at other conferences. But women were still a rather small minority.

    I’m not well placed to notice this sort of problem, since there are 2-3 females for each male at my institution. Especially in my major, the ratio in classes might be 5 or 6 to one. But it is discouraging to see only a very few women in the computer science program, despite the demographics.

    Another trend I have noticed: although the vast majority of English Literature students at my institution are female, more of the males seem to end up at graduate school.

    Another two bits of demographic. There are 4 female professors in English and 6 male professors, although I think most of the adjuncts are female.

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