Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Tuesday is Reader Mail Day!

Yes, today is Reader Mail. The day when I can sit back and let my readers do the blogging for me.

Rachel responds to my post on the Williams's article in the Chronicle on graduate students with families. She has a problem with this line from Williams, "universities increasingly have accepted nontraditional students, including women and older students, into their graduate programs."

I was just very surprised that women would be considered nontraditional students. That's so... sexist!

During her time in graduate school, she had two difficult pregnancies and had to move after her husband got a job two hours away, but still she managed to finish her exam work.

Finally started making progress on my thesis proposal... and then learned that my advisor was planning to retire in a year and I was up against the 5 year deadline. Now, mind you, lots of students require extensions (and most of them don't have children), but because I had an actual reason (2 of them, actually) for being slow, I did feel that I was at a disadvantage.

Faculty and students were very malicious and vicious about students who had children. Never mind that the record holders for length of time there were single and childfree! I suspect my advisor would have supported an extension provided I made some significant progress before I ran out of time, but once he retired I felt that I had no options.

The only other professor in the dept. who could have directed my thesis has no children (by choice or circumstance, who knows? successful academic woman at a major research university, what do you think?) and openly made disdainful comments in her classes about "other people's children" (yo lady, you are someone else's child, go off and die if you think other people's children are so terrible). Let's just say that I didn't think she'd be supportive. So last semester I withdrew, ABD. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do next.

I don't often write about grad school itself. I'm afraid that my tales of misery will drive off everyone. I did have it a bit easier than Rachel, because I was half way done with the diss when I had my first. So, I only had one year of that misery and my husband was home also working on his diss. We had to borrow a ton of money from my folks and go on WIC. We couldn't have done it for more than one year. Part of the problem is the length of time that goes into grad school programs.

How to recover from academia? I think careers are like boyfriends. The best way to get over the old one is to get a new one.

David also responds to the anti-family sentiment,

and as for those who think, well, kids are like puppies and we parents need to housebreak them on our own... who do these guys think will be there to push their wheelchairs in 2035? Kids raised by people from some other workplace? Robots?

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