Women in academia share their triumphs and their struggles


Published: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
University of Florida women gathered Thursday night to share their experiences, struggles and triumphs of being a woman working in academia during the Women in Higher Education Panel in UF's Rinker Hall.
The Women's Leadership Council held the panel after discovering statistics about the number of UF male and female faculty members, said Sarah Martin, the council's assistant conference director.
According to staffing patterns reported by the Office of Institutional Research, UF employed 2,294 men and 857 women as faculty members last semester.
"Numbers are always impressive," Martin said. "There is a 3 to 1 ratio between men to women faculty."
Panelist Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, assistant professor of qualitative research methodology in the College of Education, said a focus on balance allows her to manage her family and two children under 6 while remaining competitive with her academic research.
"(It's a) balance of structure and autonomy," Koro-Ljungberg said. "In many ways in academia I feel that the system puts more pressure on you than you can push back."
However, a passion for the subject matter equalizes the stresses, she said.
Passion helped support Stephanie Evans through 4 a.m. study sessions while working toward her doctorate.
She is now finishing a book about the history of African-American women in higher education. She said it covers from when the first black woman got a degree in 1850 through 1954 and Brown v. the Board of Education.
Evans is the first person in her family to get a degree, and she advised women who are pursuing advanced degrees to expect the best, the worst and the work.
"As a graduate student and a professor, it is really about the work - the rest is just drama and gossip," said Evans, assistant professor in the department of African-American studies and the department of women's studies.
The worst, like inappropriate sexual advances or professors who ask students to pick up their laundry, meets the best, the satisfaction of passionate work in academia, Evans said.
"It is difficult, but don't get stuck on the barriers that women face right now, but (rather face) the promise of the future," Evans said. "It is imperative that women continue to go to grad school and into the professoriate because women think and because what women think matters to humanity."

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