Tracy Brown (tbrown@ACPUB.DUKE.EDU)
Sun, 5 Jun 1994 19:15:28 -0400

On Sat, 4 Jun 1994, John O'Brien wrote:

> I feel obliged to answer Tracy Brown's post . . . first, I personally do
> not indict the whole feminist academic sub-discipline . . . but I am trying
> to make the point that was made once long past, "The good is oft intered with
> their bones, the bad lives long after."

Well then what was the point of writing "your argument that feminists
have brought renewed integrity to the issue of accountability....perhaps some
have...but many have not, and many are as prone to a Goffmanian abuse of
power through image management versus substance as anyone else" and "one
rotten apple can spoil a whole barrel, and we have far more than
one...including what has now become institutionalized discrimination..."?
This sounds to me like a sweeping generalization. Of course, then John
adds that he has worked with many women in academia, and only has the
deepest respect for them. This caveat, however, does not get rid of the
fact that John has just made a sweeping generalization about feminism,
since not all women are feminists.

> .... social science departments have implemented policies of unspoken quotas
> . . . effectively deciding pre-advertising that positions should be filled
> by one gender or another, or one ethnic group or another. Such policies are
> effectively institutionalized discrimination . . . since academic skills,
> ability and experience (and so forth) cease to be the criteria for recruitment
> and hiring . . . and gender (or some other criterion) does.
How about some statistics on this one? John says a "large number of social
sciences departments." Which ones? Do a majority of departments have this
policy? I seriously doubt it. While I would agree that this type of thing
probably goes on, I don't think it has resulted in "institutionalized

> I would tend to agree with Tracy that statistics show that European descent
> males still compose the majority of academic faculty and administration . . .
> but would take issue with the statement that White Males dominate academics.
> It would be somewhat more accurate to say that academics dominate academia . .
> .without inserting the issue of gender or ethnicity.

Sorry, but I think the issue of gender, race, class and ethnicity are
central to this debate. The fact is, white, American (not European) men
are most prominent in US academia. That goes for (especially) tenured
jobs, but it also applies to tenure track jobs. Many more women are stuck
in non-tenure track positions. The only place where the
male/female ratio seems to be equal is in grad. school (although
this of course depends on what discipline we're talking about: women are
still way underrepresented in the sciences). It ain't too difficult to
figure out what that means for job prospects for women PhD's.

> As one of the most respected members of my own doctoral committee used to
> say (Elizabeth Mullins, now deceased) . . . the problem with women entering
> the workplace is that the workplace forces them to give up the unique and
> badly needed qualities that go with being female, and force them to become
> more `male' than the males in the workplace to be a success. I think there
> is more than a grain of truth in Liz' comment.
> So much the worse for everyone.
I am at a loss as to imagine what relevance this comment has for the
discussion at hand. But, let me just say one thing: contrary to what John
might think, there are no inherent qualities that either men or women
possess. Sorry to dissapoint any of you who believe this, or wish it to be
true. To believe otherwise is to simply buy into a bunch of obsolete
Tracy Brown