Essayist and freelance writer Sarah Boon has written a glowing review of Kelly J. Baker’s SEXISM ED: ESSAYS ON GENDER AND LABOR IN ACADEMIA (Raven Books 2018) in the LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS.
We couldn’t be more thrilled. Boon’s thoughtful review essay is a meditation on the history of structural sexism in academia and the ways things have—and have not—changed over the past few decades since such structural issues have been identified. Near the beginning of the review, Boon writes:
Baker originally began writing about sexism in academia to determine why she hadn’t been able to secure a tenure-track position, despite having a strong CV and excellent references. “It didn’t take me long to realize [that it was] about how academia treats women academics,” she writes. “My story was not unique, but common, mundane, routine. The problem was systemic.”
As someone who left a tenured position in academic science, I completely understood Baker’s perspective.
Boon shows how Baker’s essays in SEXISM ED—essays that tell a relentless story—are not coming out of nowhere, are not merely anecdotal. She brings her own perspective to her reading of the book, one that shines a light on Baker’s work:
“Women on average leave academia before reaching the ranks of associate and full professor. While many studies used to use the “leaky pipeline” analogy to describe this shift, it’s now well known that this neoliberal emphasis on individual agency tells only a small part of the story. As Baker notes, the ways in which universities are structured — the “two-body problem” of married academics; tenure and promotion evaluations that prioritize research over teaching and service (which women are disproportionately assigned); limited provisions for maternity leave; et cetera — make it far more likely that women will leave academia than their male counterparts.
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