A list of my conferencing ethics.

I am going to brainfart a list of my conferencing ethics:

1) Shout out work of early career scholars.

2) If you see an early career researcher struggling to connect with a senior scholar whom you already know, broker the introduction.

3) Make friends with the conference virgins who are attending for the first time.

4) If there are folks awkwardly lurking in your physical orbit, make space to welcome them into the social setting.

5) When awkwardly standing in line for meals or the toilet, make human, non-work, phatic conversation if the vibe is right for comfort.

6) If you need to truncate a conversation and run off, don’t patronizingly say you’ll “catch up”. Earmark a next opportunity and swap contacts.

7) If a mansplainer is hijacking a conversation or Q&A, intervene but redirect the conversational space back to the original speaker.

8) Introduce folks with similar dietary habits to each other so they have company for specific meal scouts.

9) Smell out the stragglers, strays, lost and invite them to join your group/friends during meals/breaks.

10) If you are jobbed and can afford it, offer to get occasional drinks for early career researchers. It fosters intergenerational generosity.

11) Create backchannels to check in with each other. Swap R&R locations so folks who need a rest/pitstop have company.

12) If your academic friend has brought their non-acad partner along for socials, get to know them as human persons and not just do work talk.

13) Check in with each other after a night out. Ensure everyone has at least a friend looking out for them. Beep when you get home safely.

14) Take care of each other. We are all experiencing multiple feelings at once. Conference bravado and posturing is tiring. Be human.

15) Foster and protect your conference camaraderie.

Okay goodnight 🐧😴

Confessions from a young woman academic in five parts:

Context:

I wrote this some time ago in the past when I was feeling particularly vulnerable and helpless in my career. I should add that I am glad and grateful that these incidents did not take place at the institution at which I am based, and that I have mostly recovered from these experiences – so please don’t worry over me.

When I first shared these thoughts on a private platform among my personal friends, their reactions fell into four categories:

Some friends sent me affirmation and comfort, which made me feel that my friends were listening and cared for me.

Some friends commiserated with me and called out the situations for what they were – appropriation, exploitation, bullying – which was helpful in acknowledging the complex power relations at play.

Some friends who were in positions of authority to mentor others or to shape workplace practices indicated that such behaviour was not acceptable, which gave me hope in wanting to work with the right people to foster better academic culture.

Some friends recognized my effort in pushing back against the unruly demands of academia and encouraged me to press on. One friend wrote not to “give myself” to these people who will “suck you dry and leave your soul in the dust”, and another friend acknowledged my writing as “what good boundary-setting looks like”. I genuinely appreciated this support because they did not tell me to work harder to fix the situation, to be more aggressive and fend more for myself, or to internalize the blame as mine in any way. Instead, they highlighted the toxicity of academia which made me feel that the bad feelings I carried were valid and not trivial.

I felt really encouraged by these friends who were propping me up through a difficult lull at the confluence of several events. I was also grateful for all the generosity and care from the editors to whom I owed overdue work, for understanding my various commotions and giving me space and time. As I am about to take off for two weeks to conference-hop and give talks about research I am super passionate about and reunite with my most favourite people in the entire world in brand new cities I am excited to explore during our down time together (phew, breathe), I also want to acknowledge that academia isn’t always pretty.

I am now sharing this piece of writing in the public space of my blog as a public archive of underrepresented feelings that are usually taboo to publicly discuss in academia. Here goes.

Continue reading Confessions from a young woman academic in five parts:

Academic women and mentoring.

In the last three months, I’ve been approached by eight or so (prospective) postgrads around the world who wanted advice on academia and their research projects. I don’t consider myself an expert at academicking, being rather new to the industry and still learning along the way; but having been a recipient of much academic kindness and mentoring myself, I usually always oblige to chat with postgrads via Skype or email. None of them were based at any of the institutions I work at, so I can only guess that they must have found me somewhere on the internet.

Incidentally, they were all young women; this brings me much hope and joy knowing that young academic women are venturing out to explore and secure collegial relationships, resources, and care outside of their institutions in an industry that is otherwise structurally unequal for some bodies and identities over others. Continue reading Academic women and mentoring.

Conference camaraderie.

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I always appreciate my good friends in academia extra much during conferences:

1) I like that there is always a backchannel or conversational thread in which we muse about little happenings to unload our brains, and to wish each other well before our talks.

2) I like that these threads collate our plans and whereabouts for the day so we know where to find company when we need it.

3) I like that amidst learning intelligent things and serial networking with semi-strangers, we find pockets of time to reunite across a crowded room for mutual care and to destress before going back to the watering hole.

4) I like that we can read each others’ facial expressions and glances and glares from across the room and help to extract people from difficult situations.

5) I like that we have cultivated a good balance between serious game face mode and pure afterhours frivolity and fun without the stress of needing to activate work persona all the time.

6) I like that we check in with each other to make sure everyone has gotten back safely after a wild night.

7) I like that all this social labour is a genuine, reciprocal friendship that operates out of care rather than pragmatism.

8) I like that I will get to grow up and grow old with these folks throughout my career.

Image: Last panel on the last day featuring #teamaustralia on sexualities. Image kudos to Brady Robards’ Instagram via Sonja Vivienne’s cellphone via Paul Byron’s expert framing skills.

How to make peace with academia.

1) Acknowledge that the system is broken

2) Recognize that meritocracy is a farce

3) Admit that branding genealogy is a cult

4) Find your safe spaces and allies

5) Locate enjoyment in your research and/or teaching

6) Preserve this joy and guard it with moderate cynicism

7) Remember that your self worth is not determined by academic achievement

8) Recalibrate your equilibrium by airing occasional rants to seek solidarity

9) Rinse and repeat