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the service thing

Linnea Ista lkista at unm.edu
Wed Apr 5 15:07:38 EST 2000

My experience is from the staff perspective. It hits us a little less than the
faculty. However, from observing the faculty I know, I would say the same
thing is experienced by people of color.  I think this is partly due to a
scarcity issue -- every group is striving for diversity, a laudable goal, but
if you are the only woman or person with dark skin in your department, you are
going to be asked to be on almost every committee.

On the staff side, we were recently sent a memo stating that all of us should
be willing to be mentors and here is where to sign up. There was, once again,
a special note to women and people of color that we were especially needed.
What I found a little odd about that is that most of us in these groups were
already mentoring on a more informal basis. I called and asked whether my two
mentorees that particular semester would "count" in the official program-- and
they said "no, it has to be through our program".

I also think that there is a case of different volunteer organizations not
knowing what the other is doing. For example, in our laboratory, we have
students working under the auspices of several minority training programs,
which are the source of  most of my mentorees. My point here is that most of
the groups asking specifically for women or other underrepresented folks for
help don't realize that everyone is doing this.

Now onto the bigger issue -- the concept that women should be willing to do
more committee work/community service. I think this is part of a continuing
struggle in which women are expected in general to be more helpful and nice.

I know that in one social group I hang out with, I got particularly annoyed at
one man whose solicitation to me and other women was always phrased in terms
of a request for help. When I spoke to the group leader about it HER response
was that this was his way of being friendly to the women in the group --
making us feel wanted and needed.

There seems to be some sort of societal myth that the way to keep us happy is
to keep us feeling needed and that regardless of our role at work, this myth
of helpfulness still pertains. I am one of the more senior researchers in the
lab, yet I am expected to know the hours of the library, exactly how much
ethanol we have on hand at any given moment, and the number to student
services (which I have never had occasion to use). I think this extends to
women in regard to committee service, especially if the committee has some
sort of caretaking function. We are supposed to want to do it because we are
supposed to be nice.

The question is, how to handle this!


"C. J. Fuller" wrote:

> I've been reading the long hours thread with great interest and wanted to
> inject another twist.  Our new dept chair is pulling her hair out trying
> to get volunteers to do committee work and other school/university service
> stuff.  We get no time allotment for service in our faculty contracts, and
> the administrators are pushing grants and publications so our University
> can reach Carnegie Research university 2 status (I think this is >$25-30
> million in grants/year).  P&T decisions are made on teaching and research,
> not service.  There is more than a little bit of resentment among the
> female faculty in our dept that a male tenured faculty member manages to
> get away with doing the bare minimum in the way of service.
> Any ideas from the other academics on this topic?
> Cindy
> --
> C.J. Fuller
> <mailto:cjfuller at erickson.uncg.edu>
> <mailto:cjfuller at mindspring.com>

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