One of the reasons I started blogging was to share my tenure track experiences with others. And like all other bloggers, you start reading other blogs and get a lot (well, sometimes) of useful information for what other tenure track faculty did in certain situation. Underneath all of that info though, there is an undercurrent always discussing the topic of diversification within STEM fields. This isn't just limited to blogs but in real press as well.
In February's OPN (pay link), Professor Ursula Keller at ETH Zurich tackles the topic by proposing that senior faculty (both male and female) need to be the main advocates for diversification. Professor Keller also states that we need to change the present working culture, something which I think is nicely summarized by GMP's post on Work-Life Balance. The thing is, I'm just a n00b at all of this (no seniority) and I have no real insights into how to effect change because I am a stereotypical, white male engineer.
This same exact question was asked by Hermitage: "What would you like to see from tenure-track and not-yet-tenure-track menfolk? How can they pitch in?". [For details see] However, the respondents didn't really come up with any profound ideas (not trying to offend...), but rather stuck to basically saying stop being an asshat. There were other items mentioned like try to disassociate the sex of the author when reviewing/judging/commenting and to speak up when you see an obvious case of sexism.
But what else can someone in my situation (young, male tenure track engineer) do to not perpetuate the norm?
In a professional world, I don't think someone should be characterized as a humorless bitch, nor is asking is it that time of the month. On one hand, I'm actually shocked that faculty members would ask that but on the other, I can't say I'm surprised - we can be asshats for no reason. But is that essentially the list of things a male faculty member can do to help?
- Treat female faculty members (and other minorities for that matter) as just "normal faculty". Their record should speak for themselves, not their outward appearance.
- Maintain professional courtesy even when women/minorities aren't around.
- Just work based on the work, not the authors.
- Try to more vocal about your work-life balance.
The first three to me seem like they should be a no-brainer. I'm married to a female engineer with a PhD so I don't need any other justification for woman's competency in engineering (and all STEM). But I think the 4th item on the list can really go a long way to making a difference. That's especially the case for my situation because I'm in academia (flexible working environment) whereas my wife works in industry (structured working environment). I expect I'll be doing my fair share of dr's visits (like today!) and staying home with a sick child, and so on.
But that brings me to a grand question that I can hopefully get some answers from the blog'o'sphere.
Are male faculty members that have female partners in STEM fields better allies for diversification than those whose partners are not and does that make for a better work-life balance?