Meet the Damsels in Doctorates slaying the dragons of misogyny. They are not in distress.
Damsels in Doctorates (DiD) is a project run by two PhD researchers, Honor and Hannah.
The duo bond over coffee, kick-boxing, cheese, and wine, despite residing in different parts of the globe and having very different research interests.
Honour studies clinical and research streams in the area of General Epilepsy, while Hannah’s research is on the contemporary material culture of Buddhism and death (cultural anthropology).
How did Damsels in Doctorates in Doctorates come to be?
“It was Hannah’s amazing brainchild…” Honor says, and Hannah picks it up.
“It started after a series of conversations/experiences I had with other young female academics about just how dispiriting and stressful it was to be a woman in academia”.
After reading a book of fiction, where the protagonist (an Oxford professor) was accused of being a damsel in distress by another scholar, “it was the perfect fit!”
When Hannah and Honor first had a chat about Damsels in Doctorates, this article, male academics cite themselves, had just gotten published.
“I think all women in academia have private, half-whispered conversations about sexism, but we wanted to connect people who maybe don’t have that network” says Hannah.
There are two main objectives driving the vision of Damsels in Doctorates, Honor explains.
They are, “…promoting this community (perhaps beyond an online community…) that can have conversations about sexism in academia, and the other is to promote the research of our fellow damsels/ amplify their self-promotion”.
Damsels in Doctorates is about raising awareness of gender inequality in academia in the public, by contributing more to public discourse. But Hannah also thinks “a red-wine fuelled Friday night podcast promoting women’s research is also in the works…” (haha!)
About the top issues facing women in academia today, Hannah and Honor list job insecurity and casualization of the work-force, as high priority.
Hannah explains further:
” The casualisation of the workforce is something that effects all young academics, but it disproportionately harms women, because we are more likely to be awarded casual/ non-continuing jobs, and to have our careers interrupted by family commitments.”
She continues, “women also have a harder time negotiating salaries and working conditions…”
Hannah doesn’t forget to mention that “non-cis, non-straight, non-white and non-able-bodied” academics are also disproportionately affected by the issues of job insecurity and casualisation of workers.
They make the point that “so many of our male colleagues don’t seem to appreciate that gender inequality is still a huge structural issue and daily challenge. Just because academia is seemingly ‘enlightened'”.
What can women do today to combat these issues in the workplace?
Women need to mentor and support one another!
“Academia is so competitive, and it’s especially important that women learn to put that aside.”
“Celebrate the achievement of your female colleague…shout their names for the rooftops!”
“We’ve got to cite each other!” – the article mentioned earlier alludes to the perception that women are less likely to cite one another in academic articles.
Awareness of issues women face in academia has grown for many reasons, some which Hannah and Honor think includes the increased adoption of social media among academics, and the shifting global political climate.
“Social media has also been a great amplifier, allowing discussions that once happened between colleagues to happen in public, and connecting women around the world” says Hannah.
“These issues have come into increasing focus more widely and so, naturally, they are also reflected in more conversations in academia.”
At the end of the chat, Hannah & Honor leave us with a fun fact behind the birth of Damsels in Doctorates:
“… we actually first bonded by spending our days in Edinburgh second-hand vintage store called Amstrongs. And consuming vast quantities of coffee and carrot cake.”
If that is not a very Stylish Academic thing to do, I don’t know what is 🙂
You may also want to read: What I wish I knew before the PhD