Backchanneling for Higher Ed Women

In this first episode of *the agile academic* podcast, I chat with three women who have had a substantial and crucial impact on my professional life with their support, advice, and friendship. Meet my colleagues Drs. Sandy French of Radford University, Ashley Patriarca from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and Jennifer Veltsos of Minnesota State University Mankato. We talk about the importance of having women academics at other institutions who you trust and value, how our ten-year Facebook chat backchannel has impacted each of us, and some advice for finding your own tribe of supportive women in higher ed.

Transcript

RPR: On this first episode of the agile academic podcast, I talk with Dr. Sandy, French, Ashley Patriarca and Jennifer Veltsos on the importance of having women outside of your institution to talk with vent, to and cheer on, and we offer some tips for assembling your own backchannel group.

Hello listeners, welcome to *the agile academic*, a podcast for women in and around higher education and its first season. I talked with our special guests from all over academia, about a wide range of topics from teaching and research to writing and speaking to career by tally and burnout and everything in between. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Pope.

Well, I am so excited to have three of my absolute favorite people with us on this very first episode of the podcast. I’d like to welcome Dr. Jennifer. Veltsos, Dr. Sandy French, and Dr. Ashley Patriarca for joining us today. And these are three of my very, very best friends. And we’re going to talk about how we came to be how we came to connect to each other and how we use those connections to support ourselves and each other during our careers. So, hello ladies? Hello. Hi. Did I say that was kind of sad? Actually, it was just like, we are hoping we are hoping listeners that we’ll be able to make it through this without laughing extensively for the entire hour. So we’ll see how it goes. Um, so why don’t you guys go ahead and introduce yourselves then, um, where you’re at and what you do.

Dr. Jennifer Vetsos (JV): I’m Jennifer Veltsos. I’m a professor in the English department at Minnesota state university Mankato, but for the past year and probably at least one more, I’m the interim associate vice president for undergraduate education. So it’s a temporary gig sort of coordinating undergraduate curriculum.

Dr. Sandy French (SF): I’m Sandy French. I’m a professor in the school of communication at Radford university in Virginia, and I teach rhetoric. I also teach and our honors program.

Dr. Ashley Patriarca (AP): Hi, I’m Ashley Patriarca. I’m an associate professor of English at mass Chester university in Pennsylvania. I teach primarily in business and tech writing. Although I occasionally get to teach senior English seminars and first-year writing.

RPR: So you can probably tell where we all came from. Since our degrees are really relatively similar. We all, most of us either met at graduate school or at a disciplinary organization conference, the association for business communication. Jen and I went to grad school together at Iowa state. And then we picked up Ashley and some folks from Virginia tech at the conference. Then we became like a little pod of graduate students together at the conference. And then we pulled Sandy in when Jen co coordinated the conference with Sandy and decided that Sandy was just a sister from another mother. So she had to join us on the back channel.

JV: That picture actually came up my Facebook, the photograph of Sandy and me and it’s titled my soul sister.

RPR: It feels like it was so long ago, but it feels like it was yesterday in lots of ways. So one of the reasons I wanted to have you guys on the show other than, because you’re awesome is that our back channel has become kind of crucially important to my professional development and sometimes my personal salvation going through so many different things over the last 10 years that we’ve been back-channeling and Ashley and Jen and I have known each other longer than we’ve known Sandy, but she just merged right into, into our group. And it’s such a supportive, um, forced in the group that we have as well. So, um, on the podcast, I like to talk about four things that I kind of see as pillars of community, um, pillars of burnout resilience, especially in higher ed. And those pillars are purpose, compassion, connection, and balance.

And I think for us, at least for me, the connection piece has fed all of the other things. I think we, you know, we started out as friends. We started out as supporting each other. It’s turned into developing projects together. Um, and so many other things. So I’m just curious what each of your perspective is on our back channels. So we have a Facebook chat that we’ve had for 10 years. I would love to download the records on that thing. Can you imagine it would be like eight feet tall? Um, so we started out on Facebook and it just seems to have worked there. So, um, what is your perception of our back channel? How is it useful to you, or how does it fit into your professional life?

AP: You all are the place where I run when I have questions. And I often have a lot of questions because, you know, going through the tenure process a few years back now, or when I was on the job market and y’all were telling me to calm down and everything was going to be okay, and I didn’t believe you in both situations. And then it was fine. I know that’s not the case all the time, but it was really important for me to have that sort of reassurance that other folks had gone through the process and had survived and made it through. And that even if it didn’t feel like it was going to work out at that point, for me, it did. And it was so helpful that mentorship, that guidance, that reassurance.

SF: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say of the four things you like to talk about. I’m thinking all four of them apply, but I’m thinking specifically of connections and balance. I think it’s very cool that we’re all we’re close in age, but we’re not all the same age. We’re close in where we are in our careers, but not exactly the same place in our careers. And so every time someone has a question, there’s a, there’s a balanced perspective that comes from being close to people who are not in your institution, because there’s a, uh, an objectivity in the sounding that you may not get from the connections you have at your own institution, which are also important. But, but for me, that, that balanced perspective, where we’re just as likely to cheer each other on, as we are to say, you know, maybe your Dean has a point, or maybe that student had something else going on. Those, those kinds of a safe place where people can kind of tell you to check yourself, but it’s not the end of a relationship. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible professor, that kind of balance. I think there’s something really beautiful about being able to talk to people who aren’t at your institution

JV: As usual. Sandy says everything I’m thinking much better. Cause that’s literally what, how I was thinking about how to describe you all. I imagine a continuum and on one end it’s I actually have cheerleading. And on the other end, I have no committee. You are also my no committee. If I’m not sure about something and I need some other perspectives that I can trust and I need to be vulnerable, and I can do that with you all. And then there’s like everything in between, and there’s no judgment. It really helps. And I probably have not mentioned this particular benefit to you all, but in this past year, as an administrator, I really have to self-censor. And so you all have helped me when I need to vent. Sometimes you’re the only ones that I can talk to about things, because you’re completely removed from the situation. So thank you for that.

RPR: Yeah. I feel that the venting has been me recently, but you guys were there with me when I was on the job market when I was going through the burnout and pre burnout, not knowing what was happening to me. Um, and then post burnout, you know, I got some misdiagnoses along the way, which were kind of crazy. And we talked through those to see, you know, what can I reasonably do? Is it okay if I decide to leave my institution, even though I’d been there for so long and assumed that I was going to retire there? Um, I think for a lot of us, um, and there are also a couple more people in our back channels, but they’re men, so they’re not invited to the women’s podcast

JV: To be fair. This is the sub back channel.

RPR: That channel, there are some things that only that it’s only appropriate for the ladies, like, and we’ve done that too with like sexism things that we’ve, that have come up and where we needed to just, just the four of us kind of share that perspective. That’s been important too. Luckily there hasn’t been too many of those, um, I think, but we definitely shared those kinds of issues as well.

AP: Also, to be fair Quinn Warnick is the reason why I’m in that back channel to begin with it’s his fault. He said, Hey, why don’t you come to the rhetoric special interest group? It’s right after your presentation at the very first ABC I ever attended. And he basically dragged me off and that’s how I met you all.

RPR: Yeah. And I think that Jim Dubinsky was in there too scheming to get them with the Virginia tech folks to be as cool as the Iowa state folks at ABC. So we’ve been through a lot together in terms of changing roles and changing positions. Like Sandy mentioned being able to be at different parts of, in an academic career. So what are maybe some of the things that stand out to you specifically about a time in your life or in your career where we were really able to help each other through something, you know, with me, it was obviously burnout and it was so many things before that. Um, right. Cause for, for a while, I was a little bit on the leading edge of everyone and hit the burnout and had to back off. And now Jen is kind of the leading edge of the group because she’s made it into administration or made it or had to do it whichever

JV: Fell forward into it.

RPR: Right. So you guys were able to help me, you know, I wasn’t, I wasn’t willing to talk about it for a long time to anybody, but you guys, because I knew that I wouldn’t get that judgment. And I knew that you knew that the behaviors that I was exhibiting weren’t me at the time that something else was going on and you were able to kind of see that, but also, um, support me through it no matter what we thought was going on. So I’m forever grateful to you all for that. Now we’re all crying.

JV: I think there’s a couple of places where, where y’all have really helped me. And one was the drama with my former dissertation advisor who ended up, I don’t know how to describe, not quite bullying, but definitely cutting me in public places. And you all always had my back and you understood how much that hurt and kind of talked me through it. And that meant a lot. Um, and then I’m not sure that this, this got to all of you, but I know I’ve talked about it with, with you at different times. Um, bullying in my department, um, some frustrations with, with employees. And again, it’s the kind of stuff that I can talk with because you don’t know who’s involved and you can give me an honest perspective.

SF: I’d say also on the flip side of that, since we do have this conference connection, um, one of the things that stands out in my mind is the recovery of years in a row, where I was attempting to move into certain leadership roles in the organization and I kept getting rejected. And that’s, it’s, it’s hard to face rejection at any point in your professional life, but since the conference was the touchstone for all of us, you know, failing to secure those leadership positions or that kind of recognition really rocks you. And, and so again, that notion of, of compassion in the back channel and saying, you know, we still think you do great work and you know, what, whatever people were saying to me at the moment, but not just being like, well, she couldn’t rise into those leadership positions. So I guess we’ll just phase her out of the group, you know, that, that kind of, of recognition that, that your work is still valuable and what you bring to the group just as an individual woman is valuable, um, will always be really meaningful to me.

RPR: They missed out on several of us in leadership roles. Definitely you. So we formed our own.

SF: That’s true. And it’s amazing.

AP: Yeah, for me, I already mentioned the, um, the fact that you all were there for me during the job search during very disastrous in a lot of ways, tenure process that involved some snafoos with my HR and some other communication challenges that happens like the notice of tenure being sent to the wrong address. Uh, but I think what’s going to stick out for me the most, especially as the years go by is the fact that you all have been there for me this year in particular, not just because of the general pandemic state that we’re in, but because of my mother’s illness and having that come on so suddenly, and at the same time as the pandemic, it was a whammy. And to know that you all have been there, you’ve been listening to me vent the entire time and just let me talk through all of the rather overwhelming emotions that I’ve been dealing with this year, while also trying to navigate teaching and working and doing all of the things that we’re supposed to be doing right now. Um, it’s, I’m going to cry because it means so much to me to know that you all have been there the whole way and that you will be there the rest of the way.

RPR: I think these back channels are just so important, especially for women in higher education, um, you know, back channels in general, with, with, you know, maybe friends you went to graduate school with, or colleagues from a past job or something like that. Even colleagues at the same institution, even though that’s a little bit different, um, being able to have that as you know, we’ve all said that, that, that voice in the background, that’s there to hold you up no matter what happens, but also, you know, like Sandy said, check us, check you if it needs, if it needs to be checked, but we know how to do it in a way that’s, that’s calming almost. I think, you know, that you can vent, but you’re not going to vent back at me. We’re going to share experiences or you’re going to commiserate. And then you’re either going to offer me some wonderful advice, or you’re going to tell me that I need to step back and rethink something. And that’s, you know, that’s a long-term relationship to be able to do that, especially, I mean, we’re talking over text, right? We’re talking, you know, we are all writing professors. We can hold our own, but we know most of this really is over, over Facebook chat. So we’re not writing huge long messages to each other. They’re not epistles, you know, they’re just kind of little vents or little questions or this thing happened. Or I saw this in the news. Did you see this thing? Um, can be really powerful just, and just holding us together. So I’m curious if you guys know anybody else who maybe has a back channel like ours?

SF: I don’t know anyone else who has this kind of back channel that we have, but one of the things I did want to say about it, um, and to maybe encourage your listeners is in this era of the pandemic and zoom fatigue, which is real. And it’s encourage your listeners to think about these low stakes kinds of connections. You know, like you said, it’s a text-based connection in this Facebook chat. So, you know, your hair doesn’t have to be done. You don’t have to be in a pretty room. It’s okay. If your dog comes up and sits on your lap and all of those kinds of things, um, that I would just encourage your listeners to think about it. There’s something really powerful about getting high impact connection from a low stakes activity

RPR: And mostly asynchronous, right? Sometimes we’re all there at the same time, but a lot of it really is asynchronous or it’ll be synchronous for a few of us. And then a couple of us will pop in later and add some, some thoughts. So

JV: I was just thinking about the number of times when one of us has been like, I was just teaching for an hour and a half.

RPR: Yeah. We had a lot of things to say, it’s hard to kind of go back and we tried separating out some topics and to other boards and they all ended up just back in the seat, but that’s our safe spot, right? I mean, that’s, that’s the place where we know we can just be us and not have to apologize for that, but not, not also not have to live up to something some standard.

AP: Yeah. I do have one other back channel going With some colleagues and friends in my own department, um, which is great For thinking through issues that are emerging in the department. Um, so there are, you know, other, you know, low stakes back channels happening. It’s just, this is one of my favorites.

JV: This kind of connection. And the conversations that we have, this is what a lot of, I guess, what a lot of advice is. And a lot of I’ve, I’ve been in organizations and training that try to create this. And I don’t think you can create it. I think it, it just has to happen organically. I mean, we certainly, weren’t texting back and forth all the time back in 2011. Um, I think we took it. We were just more careful back then, and now it’s just kind of random thoughts and popping in, but have y’all ever noticed, like we never go a week with nothing on the back channel,

RPR: Even in the summers?

SF: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. It started if I remember correctly, I mean, it started as a very sort of focused conference related sort of back channel for that. And over the years, it’s grown as the relationships have grown and expanded, the back channel has grown and expanded to include more aspects of your professional life, more aspects of your personal life. Um, and like you said, I don’t think you can set out to do that. You have to let that happen, but, but faculty members should be looking, I think for those, those opportunities. Right. And again, it comes back to the things that you want to talk about, Rebecca, it comes back to compassion and purpose and you know, this channel for whatever reason would never have started, if the people who started it, weren’t the kind of professionals, um, all of you, the kinds of people who are open to meeting new people and welcoming them into the group. Right. So, uh, so I encourage, I don’t want somebody to listen to it and think, well, I could never have what they have. It just requires being open and being willing to be vulnerable with people and to welcome people and not always be in that sort of cutthroat academia headspace.

RPR: And we had the conference as the touchstone for, for a long time. Right. We would all, we were all going annually. So we would see each other at the conference every year. So we were making, we were making the friend connections even more when we were in person and watching each other’s work. So we were, it wasn’t just the back channel as well. Right. We were, we had those in-person touchstones and those adventures often the cities where we were, we were conferencing. I think we went somewhere everywhere, probably who doesn’t. Right. That’s the way you’re supposed to conference. Yeah.

So how do we, how do we encourage people to create something like this, right. Especially women. And I think now is a moment where the, where the connection is so important. Um, and I think, you know, in my research with burnout, isolation is one of the first signs, but we’re all kind of isolated. So we’re all in danger. I think of, of burnout at this point because we are dealing with so many of our own traumas and then the students, secondary trauma is, and we’re all isolated in different ways. So, you know, at some times in our careers and in our lives, that back channel probably kept us sane in a, in a lot of different ways. So how, how do we help people to create these kinds of things? So Sandy talks about it being kind of the people themselves, like figuring out who you can connect with, who can have similar perspectives with, and then let that grow. Any other advice, Ashley or Jen?

AP: I would say maybe if there’s a galvanizing event, like perhaps a, a conference that’s coming up, whether that’s a virtual conference or a future in-person conference, thinking about ways to chat with folks who are, you know, in your sessions or that you’ve know from past versions of the conference. Um, and perhaps, you know, starting a conversation about what you’re seeing in the upcoming conference, which sessions are you going to attend, all of this stuff that we would do on in a normal year, um, just sort of bringing it into this year’s experience or updating it for this year’s experience.

JV: I think there’s also a certain, almost like being on a blind date, like it, well, it’s networking is what it is. Like Becca, I knew you at Iowa State. And so that’s, that’s one type of connection, but almost everybody else in the back channel, I met through someone else. Um, and, and so it’s almost like being set up on a date like, Oh, you should talk to so-and-so because I think you’d really have a lot in common. And so being open to, okay, I guess I’ll talk to so-and-so. Um, it is a really good way of finding people with similar interests or, or, um, perspectives. And that’s not something that people tend to feel comfortable doing.

RPR: Yeah. There is that very competitive aspects of higher ed, you know, as I’ve been writing about burnout, you know, and I posted this on Facebook the other day, and you guys responded to this, you know, me kind of asking what are the values of higher education, right? And y’all were being way nicer than I was being nicer than the values that I was coming up with. But I think we’ve all seen them, you know, we’ve all seen those positive values and those negative values, and we’ve seen them in ourselves, right. So, you know, how do we help each other through that?

SF: And I hope that institutions are also kind of like what Ashley said, conferencing isn’t normal this year, but still happening while for new faculty who are joining our institutions, new faculty development, new faculty, orientation, whatever you might call it, that should still be happening too. And so there’s some opportunities there. I think, uh, I know at Radford, we just recently, I’m part of a smaller group that, um, in my college to help, um, mentor and assist new faculty who come into our specific college, the college of humanities and behavioral sciences. So we recently did a zoom just for new faculty, just to kind of introduce each other. We played some funny, silly games. We put them in breakout rooms, gave him a chance to talk to each other. So still trying to foster some of those connections, especially among our new faculty who have no idea how to do this job outside of a crisis situation. Right? So I hope all of our institutions are still trying to use those opportunities to get faculty connected to one another. Um, if they’re not traveling or that doing virtual conferences, you know, some places are still hiring people and seats are still being filled and we’ve still got to find ways to help those faculty members.

AP: That’s an excellent point, Sandy. Um, one of my colleagues in comm studies here at Westchester, she started a group, a group on Facebook back in March for all of the, uh, Westchester professors as part of the online transition to give everybody a place to ask questions, get feedback, vent a little about, you know, the whole suddenness of the transition. And it’s been a really important site for community among colleagues I haven’t had a chance to meet yet cause they’re in very different departments and it’s been really lovely to see how folks are, how quickly folks will come together in that Facebook group. It’s just, it’s been great. Um, so thinking about new faculty, that could be a site for new faculty, but they also need their own spaces.

RPR: Yeah. That peer mentoring is crucially important, right? That’s what, that’s what our group has become peer mentoring. Um, as well as, you know, deep and abiding love for each other, right. We are all still faculty members and I’m sure we would still talk to each other if we weren’t, but we are all in the same kind of context we’re dealing with similar issues. And because of what higher ed is, things are pretty similar at the different institutions. You know, we can compare notes on the tenure process or union versus non-union and those kinds of things with each other. But we all basically are going through similar things in similar contexts, just to maybe a different points of our career and considering different ways of moving through our careers and having the kind of the bouncing off board is really helpful.

I’m like staring at Jen. (laughter)

JV: I felt like I should answer that. But you all said the same things. I would’ve said (laughter)

RPR: Switching gears a little bit. We were checking Jen’s notes to see if there was anything important that we haven’t covered, but I think we’re good. So we’re going to go. So in today’s context, outside of today’s context, what is most inspiring to you about women in higher ed right now?

JV: You know, what’s funny is I posted something on Facebook and it was something else entirely it had to do with wording. And, but I mentioned how I got a lot of demerits when I was in elementary school, and someone asked what for, and I said was talking. It was always like talking to people, talking out of turn and someone else said me too, I always got, and it was like, but look at us now.

So what I, what inspires me about higher ed is yeah, it’s, it’s women speaking up and, and speaking up for themselves, speaking up for each other, for feeling more comfortable, moving into leadership roles of different sorts. And speaking up when we see things that we don’t like. I remember, gosh, this was probably around 2009. I was in a, um, I was in a committee that was preparing a professional event. And one of the men, the older white men on this committee was writing a skit that was really misogynistic and really offensive about students. And, um, and I said, Oh, you know, I think I’m going to have to say something. And at that point, people were telling me like, no, this could ruin your career. You cannot tell this man not to make these jokes. I don’t think the answer would be the same today. I think I would have a whole bunch of women at my back. And that inspires me a lot.

SF: Yeah, I think you’re right. Uh, I think what inspires me right now in the moment is the way that women continue to show up. Um, we already know from research women do the second shift at home, whether you’re taking care of pets, whether you’re taking care of little people, whether you were cooking dinner and cleaning house or helping the neighbor across the street, um, women continue to be thought of as the helpers in every profession they are in. And so the, I feel like the risk of burnout for women in higher education has never been greater because, uh, when you, when you think of all the traumas, our students are going through, I think research and certainly anecdotal evidence would bear out that the women professors still get told the stories of student trauma more than their male colleagues. And so to me, I’m inspired, some days, I feel like it’s all I can do to get out of bed and teach my class. And that’s not because my own life is so horrible necessarily. No, the world is a little bit horrible right now. And students are struggling right now. And just the, the emotional labor of carrying all of those experiences, I think continues to fall primarily in higher education, on the shoulders of women. And so I’m inspired all the time by women, just continuing to show up and continuing to try and do the best that they can for themselves, for their colleagues, their students, for their universities.

RPR: I think we have to do a shout out to our, our colleagues of color as well, dealing with that emotional labor, um, especially women of color in those contexts as well.

SF: Yes, absolutely.

AP: Building on what you both said. I find myself so inspired by a lot of the grad students who are coming up right now and watching them take on not just positions of leadership within the field, not just, not just taking on roles in grad student organizations or in our professional organizations, but speaking out against the injustices that they see in our fields and in our programs and in our professional organizations, it is amazing. It is remarkable. And I just find myself really impressed and amazed and inspired by them all. And I learned so much from them honestly, and it keeps pushing me to want to be, or keep pushing me to be better. It makes me want to be better. And it pushes me to be better just watching the labor and the thought that they put into everything that they do.

RPR: Yeah. I think about often with the graduate students, you know, what the things that they have to cope with now in terms of, of general struggles, in terms of what they need to do to get out, honestly, to graduate, to get a tenure track job, if that’s what they, what they’re interested in. I don’t think I published my first article until my third year on the tenure track. Right. And they’re coming out with two or three just to even be remotely marketable. So they’re doing the kind of work that I didn’t do, um, at that time. And they are still standing up. We have a, we have a disciplinary, um, listserv that, that has challenges sometimes. And in some of those grad students have stood their ground. They created new spaces for themselves to move out of those toxic environments. They are kind of social justice warriors in the disciplines really. And that’s, it’s really inspiring to see them come up. I’m not sure that we can take any credit for that. Maybe we opened the door a teeny little bit for them by being strong women, but they are definitely empowered and they’re going to make a difference. And I hope that’s happening across disciplines, just not ours. I mean, I see it on Twitter, especially with grad student mental health, um, people finally really standing up for those kinds of issues, um, issues with PIs and mentors. So those, those issues are becoming much more public, at least in those contexts, which is just, I don’t know if I, I don’t know if I would’ve had the strength to do it as a graduate student, kind of like Jen said earlier.

AP: Yeah. It makes me want to make the discipline better and the jobs better for them to make them make there be jobs for them. Because especially this year, the job market is not great, but it’s been not great for a while and thinking about the kinds of things that they have to do to get a job that we did not have to do that I did not even have to do seven years ago, seven years ago, it’s mind boggling and frustrating and some sort of systematic and systemic change needs to happen.

RPR: Yeah. And talk about acknowledging things. I think we also have to acknowledge all of our privilege, right? I mean, we are white women who got tenure track tenured positions. Right. And I mean, I’ve read things that say, you know, you shouldn’t think of yourself as lucky cause you did work hard to get where you are, but there is that element of luck to this. You were on the market at the right time, or you made the right connection, um, you know, with a, with a search committee. Um, and if there are 14 jobs, last I heard there were 14 jobs, um, in our field compared to 60 or 80 last year at this time. We are coming from a place of privilege when, and any one of us could have ended up doing adjuncting work and do being cause we are all really dedicated teachers. We care about our students deeply just like all of our adjunct and colleagues do. So if there were ways to change our disciplines and to make homes for them and stable homes for them in our institutions, our students can only benefit from that.

So as we start to wrap it up, um, we’ve talked about our back channel. We talked about, women’s showing up, we’ve talked about women being a power and, and the next generations coming up, being empowered. So what is one thing that you wish all women associated with higher education? So in it, or around it or outside of it, what do you wish they knew? Or what do you wish they practiced?

AP: Compassion for themselves. I find it much easier to have compassion towards others than myself when I have a lot on my plate. And I suspect the same is true for a lot of us.

JV: My pet peeve, the thing that I wish all women would know and do is stop apologizing. Reframe it. I’ve been working on this for about two or three years now. I don’t say, I’m sorry. I’m late. I say, thank you for your patience. Thank you for waiting. I don’t say, you know, I’m sorry that I forgot to reply to your message, which happened this morning. I’ll say things like thank you for reminding me that when I see women do it and, and I see it happening in administration too. And that’s where it drives me batty is when women apologize for taking up space, and they have great ideas, the men in the room just share their ideas. And the women are like, Oh, you know, well, I was thinking, and maybe in, you know, but it’s, but it’s a Friday. So who knows? And I’m just like, no, you have good ideas, state them. So I, I just, if there was one Thing I wish women would do Or knew it is don’t apologize. And especially don’t apologize for taking up space.

SF: Yeah. I think they’ve already, they’ve already said all the things I was thinking about, but you can see the common theme here is that, you know, that old adage that, um, women take care and men take charge and, and, and although it might sound strange, the one thing I wish women in higher education would do would be to take less care of everyone else and, and stop feeling like the department’s problems are, are your problems. I, sometimes we have to own part of, you know, we’re part of the problem. We have to own that. Um, but we own our students’ problems and we own our university’s problems and we own the bookstores problems when the students can’t get their books on time. And, and so I, I wish women, I guess what I wish is that women would, I’ll try to combine them all, have compassion for themselves and stop apologizing for having good boundaries, like protect your space, you know, protect yourself, protect your space. And don’t apologize for doing that.

RPR: One of the things that I’m thinking, you know, adding to what, what you all have said is this, this idea that there is not a single ounce of competition among any of us. Right. It’s just not there. We would start laughing if someone tried to

JV: we’re so competitive, ironic part of it!

RPR: there’s just nothing there. We all value each other for our different strengths. Um, and for who we are as people. So, and we’ve talked about it being kind of, it’s not something that created immediately, right? It is something that we built up over time, but I, my wish is for women in higher ed to find those people, right. It doesn’t have to be a group of 10 people. It doesn’t have to be a women’s group. You know, it can be two people, right. That you connect to and that you feel comfortable with having these conversations because these conversations make be a better person and a better professional. Right. Who knows how I would have handled certain situations if I hadn’t run it through you guys first. Right. And, and I, and I know the same has happened for you too. Right. And it’s not that I was weak or didn’t know how to handle a situation. It was, you know, I need a gut check. Is, am I on the right track here? Because I’m going to respond badly if I don’t just test this a little bit with folks, or is my anger justified here, or is my concern justified here? And the opportunity to return that, to return that support I think is, is, is one of the most important things. It’s not, I don’t never feel like I’m taking from role feel like we’re always giving to each other, even when it seems like we might be taking, if that makes any sense.

SF: Yeah. And I think to find those people, you have to be willing to be those people, right? So it’s, it’s the first time your colleague or somebody you may not know very well comes to you. And they’re excited because they got a grant or they got a publication and you have to quell that imposter syndrome that rises up in all of us to say, you got something good. And that must say something bad about me. Right. So we have to be those people that say, I can share on your accomplishment and I can be happy for you. And that doesn’t mean there’s not space for me in the discipline. There’s not value to the research that I’m doing, or this person got a teaching award, so I must not be a great teacher. You have to be that person. I think that opens up the space and says there’s room for all of us. And then you, you tend to attract like attracts like, right. When you say, gosh, so-and-so took that. So, well, I really want to talk to her again. So I think we have to be those people.

RPR: So any last minute thoughts about back channels, about women in higher ed, before we go ahead and wrap it up?

JV: my thought was, as I was writing out, my notes for today was that, um, you know, humans are pack animals and you all are my pack.

SF: I love it.

RPR: And we’re all crying now.

AP: And you know, I especially love it as a dog person.

RPR: We will include pictures of Ashley’s dog, Martypants, in the show notes, because he is the best dog ever standing. Your dog is adorable too, but he’s younger. So he went to the bachelor award when the senior, the senior citizen award. Well, thank you guys so much for being here as always. It’s lovely to chat with you and we should do this face to face much more often. Thanks for having us.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the agile academic podcast for women in higher ed, to make sure you don’t miss an episode. Follow the show on Apple and Google podcasting apps and bookmark the show page where you’ll find show notes and a transcript with each episode, you’ll find the show at Rebecca Pope brewer.com/podcast. If you’d like to recommend someone to interview, please just complete the contact form at the bottom of the page. Take care and stay well.

 

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