Don’t Be the Good Little Girl – Women and Service [New Video Post Series]

I’m starting a new series of video posts this week! I hope you enjoy. I’m actively soliciting topics to address so please put them here in comments, or email me at

Here is the blog post I mention: A Good Little Girl, on the Xykademiqx blog.

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Don’t Be the Good Little Girl – Women and Service [New Video Post Series] — 5 Comments

  1. Thank you for this vlog, even though I’m not on the tenure track, “just” a continuing lecturer in a department which is probably less dysfunctional than most and where many tenured professors try to protect us as much as they can from being exploited by the university. Still, as you know, we are often asked to write letters of recommendation by students, who don’t understand the difference between lecturers and tenured or tenure-track professors, or serve on hiring committees for lecturer pools because these news hires will be working directly under our supervision. I have come up with a way of saying “no” to letter writing when the request comes from former students, but I still have a hard time rejecting personal requests from current students at office hours. Anyway, it’s something we lecturers talk about and is currently part of contract negotiations. I count my blessings for being in a department in which many tenured professors are actively trying to find a healthier work-life balance. As my mentor-now-friend said to me a while back: “This is a profession in which we are rewarded for being dysfunctional.” Anyway, thank you for raising awareness about the service trap, which, in my case, does not interfere, obviously, with research responsibilities, but rather with with my efforts to recover my health and energy levels, which were impacted by grad school, the job search and the first years in my current position to the point of feeling about 60% disabled, despite being in a pretty nice department. BTW, I really like the vlog format; I think it suits you.

  2. Hi Karen,
    What a great new format for your on point tenure track advice! It’s wonderful hearing your firmness and resolve, especially modelling an authoritative version of ‘just say no’. I wonder how widespread the ‘good girl’ syndrome is in academia…? I for one, can relate, naively having believed service to a department and praise from HoDs on service-related work actually counted for something. You’re right – it doesn’t.
    Thanks for your razor sharp clarity. It’s penetrative.

  3. I enjoyed this vlog and got a lot out of it. Thank you! I’m currently not tenure track, but on a renewable lecturer contract, and it often feels like I should say yes to everything because of my vulnerability, and I know it’s cutting into my research productivity. How would you say “no” to service and point out that you’re working on your research in this situation, when you can’t claim it’s for tenure? Would the research help a renewable contract, or would it raise suspicion that you’re preparing to go on the job market?

  4. Thank you for the vlog! It’s certainly helpful to be reminded that some service interferes with, rather than helps, our personal and professional advancement. Your message struck home in particular with me because I’m asked to coordinate a symposium to showcase our research. I’m curious to know those of us who aren’t on a track to become tenured professors can distinguish service that is interference from service that is helpful.

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