Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pink Sweater Shooter Raises Questions on STEM Female Faculty and Low Rate of Tenure

When I heard that the shooter at the University of Alabama Huntsville was female, I was surprised. Then when I heard she was in STEM and started her rampage in the midst of a faculty meeting, I raised an eyebrow and told myself, "She probably was pissed she didn't get tenure." And sure enough I was right.

When police were looking for the shooter, the profile given was that the suspect was a woman wearing a pink shirt. How is that for gender juxtapositions? A gun and a pink sweater.

One of Amy Bishop's bones of contention before she started capping people was her being upset she was not tenured.

Now, some people may be outraged that she went bonkers over tenure denial. And I agree that job disgruntlement should not have to equate to killing someone; but if you know the rigorous and often life-depleting process of tenureship in many areas of the academy, you might understand a little.

I was at a conference last year of black female academicians and a woman broke down in front of a 500+ audience when she narrated her denial of tenure and the nasty and trivial reasons used to undermine an overworked, underpaid, and bitterly single sister who gave up everything for this opportunity.

Amy, who was married, fits the profile of a lot of STEM female faculty. She had no children and lived damn near in her lab. Only to be flicked off like a bugar.

An inventor who has been described as a "nerd" and mediocre to horrible professor, Bishop has been credited for her biology genius with an invention she and her husband created and won an award.

Unfortunately, the corporation known as higher education expects stellar researchers (who are not equipped to teach anything) to be exceptional teachers, but a lot of times this combination is like like oil and water.

However, a superior researcher's inferior teaching ability is used when it comes to the tenure process in the good old boys network, especially in the sciences. If UAH is not an institution that concentrates on top research, but focuses on quality teaching than Bishop was handicapped from the gate. With that said, it is more accepted for males to have less than desirable teaching abilities than women.

Not to take away from Bishop's violence, and the tragedy. It is devastating, but honestly, I am not surprised that something like this could happen. And, this was bound to happen one day.

I was a part of a group that did extensive research on female STEM faculty about four years ago and the low rate of tenure was alarming. Though female students are increasingly performing great in college in STEM fields, most of them do not get jobs in the areas of concentration when they move to the job sector; And when it comes to professorship, it is difficult and very biased.

I think this shooting will make STEM faculty everywhere silently rethink the harsh and gender unfriendly tenureship process because chicks in pink sweaters are ready to rock n roll.

Oh, and don't you just unlove southern justice and it use of the "equalizer," the gun will make you do some stupid shit.

2 ish talking intellectuals holla at a sista:

EdoRiver said...

Finally someone real. This kind of speculatin, based on reality, is at least a little more comforting for me. I have been searching for 45 min. on Google blogs looking for this kind of discussion on what went down in that meeting. I think you are right on!!!!! But there is still more. I want to know more details on what happened in the meeting to push her over the edge. Of course as a BS in Psychology, I know :-9 that there is a gigabite file on the situation in the meeting. The meeting was the final flick. BUT who knows???????? or more specifically, who is blogging??

Reggie said...

See, that's why I'm scared of white folks now.