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ksenija b.

Excellent example. I'd recommend reading this book not just to the student population, but also for teachers and deans. It is nice to know there is a great awareness about the discrimination issues, now it is time we join our efforts and make some changes. The first step is to speak up about the discrimination. The second is making the things happen and here we need a support of those who are an example of excellency in mentoring, they are the ones who have the power to make changes visible.

Dori Tunstall

You might want to look at the book Erotic Mentoring by Janice Rushing.

Book Description from publisher
They’re everywhere in the academy. Young, bright women mentored by older scholars, usually men, who attempt to mold them into their own masculine ideals. Janice Hocker Rushing’s study of over 200 women and their life transformations is the subject of this eloquent book. Using the tropes of mythology and Jungian psychology, the author characterizes the many paths these women’s academic lives take: as Muse for a faltering older scholar, as Mistress or wife, as the dutiful academic daughter. Their resistance to this power differential also takes many forms: as a Veiled Woman, silent in public but active in private, or the Siren, using her sexuality to beat the system. Ultimately, Rushing arrives at the myth of Eros and Psyche, where women’s self understanding and personal development turns her erotic mentoring into an autonomous, whole, and free life, unfettered by any man. These women’s stories, and Rushing’s literary and literate framing of their lives, will ring true to many in the university.

ksenija b.

Power structures in Academia

As a young researcher at the final stage of my PhD study I have found myself in the middle of power struggles and conflicts. Unfortunately, the academic sphere is still dominated by old-white-male-patriarchal structures.

In the democratic societies there is an emerging trend to support young and bright women to make decisive steps for scientific career. It is not true, that women don't want to commit their creative potentials to science. Being exposed to the patriarchal system of mentoring, this wonderful idea of practising equality in the scientific sphere makes the efforts of young students pretty hard. For we have to be aware how there is nothing democratic about the scheme of patriarchal/erotic mentoring, where elderly scholars are trying to mould the women students into their own ideas, disabling and depriving them of their own creative growth.

I'm facing quite a lot of power struggles with my mentor in this area, for he is unfortunately one of them. He is not supportive of my ideas at all, trying to constantly remind me how I don't know anything, how I should leave science and so on. But you can imagine by now, that I'll not surrender myself to those lame excuses and accusations. I have found very soon how I cannot oppose my mentor with arguments, for he is constantly avoiding a dialogue, forcing a one-way communication. Therefore I have developed several strategies of survival to get to the end of my PhD study and defend my theses. You can imagine that I cannot develop these strategies in details now, but I can do it after I complete my study. For now I can tell you that my strategies involve a lot of marketing and management strategies as well as lobbying and a lot of diplomatic skills.

I am perhaps one of the fortunate ones, for I was not only trained in design and art, but in marketing and management as well, gaining a lot of experience working in advertising as consultant and project manager. I know I'll succeed in this academic-male war for becoming a PhD, but what about those brilliant young women sharing the same story, who were not so fortunate to learn all the survival skills and secret tactics? I think we should all try to shape a better academic world, without sexual, racial or religious discrimination, where the individuals could freely develop their scientific and creative potentials, without being terrified for being expelled while defending their rights. Surprisingly, but true, in some European countries, regarding the year 2008, having a creative or theoretical difference of opinions with your mentor, can still mean you can say goodbye to your scientific career.

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Kinda surprising how some old ways and culture like that of having a double standard when it comes to women still exists in today's times when everything seems too highly technical already.

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