Pearls of Wisdom–The Blog

~~ You tell the truth, you tell it well. In the crowded and fetid swamp that is the job market, that is oxygen.” – a reader

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The definitive career guide for grad students, adjuncts, post-docs and anyone else eager to get tenure or turn their Ph.D.  into their ideal job.

Karen Kelsky has made it her mission to help readers join the select few who get the most out of their Ph.D. As a former tenured professor and department head who oversaw numerous academic job searches, she knows from experience exactly what gets an academic applicant a job. And as the creator of the popular and widely respected advice site The Professor is In, she has helped countless Ph.D.’s turn themselves into stronger applicants and land their dream careers.

Now, for the first time ever, Karen has poured all her best advice into a single handy guide that addresses the most important issues facing any Ph.D., including:

-When, where, and what to publish
-Writing a foolproof grant application
-Cultivating references and crafting the perfect CV
-Acing the job talk and campus interview
-Avoiding the adjunct trap
-Making the leap to nonacademic work, when the time is right

The Professor Is In addresses all of these issues, and many more.

If you would like your academic career to begin in delusion and end in disillusionment, then by all means, ignore Karen Kelsky. If, however, you want unvarnished straight talk about the academic job market—and how to navigate it—then heed her, and heed her now.” —Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate.



I post once a week, usually on Friday, on topics related to the academic job market, academic life and politics, general professionalization skills related to writing, publishing, conferencing, networking, and scholarly comportment, and the tenure process.

I also put up posts on the Post-Ac/Non-Ac job search by my Panel of Post-Ac Experts, on Monday or Tuesday.

Let me know if there’s a topic you want to see me post on!  I am always happy to put Special Requests into the queue. Comment here, or email me at:

You can  always get to a particular Category by clicking it in the Categories column to the right.———>

Please note that as of January 2013  the rate of comments to this blog has exceeded my ability to respond individually to each one. I’m sorry that not all comments will get a personal response by Dr. Karen.  If you have a really pressing question, do consider getting in touch to get on my calendar to work together.  I strive to make services affordable to all.

Here’s a short glossary to help you follow the discussions in the blog:

  • TT– tenure track
  • VAP–visiting assistant professor (position)
  • ABD–all but dissertation (status)
  • SLAC–small liberal arts college
  • R1–top ranked research-intensive institution with Ph.D.-granting departments, such as University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan, etc.
  • R2–research institution with primarily MA-granting departments

Negotiating As Therapy

Negotiating Assistance is some of my favorite work. I love it when clients prevail and get jobs, but mostly what I love is to help them over that final hump of asking for what they deserve, and putting a monetary price tag on their own value.  This is really deep work for them and me, both, and I feel this way more and more the longer that I do it.

As the years of Negotiating Assistance have gone by, I’ve come to identify patterns of client reactions to the negotiating process.  Some leap in gleefully with both feet, and quickly grasp the principles of confident and forthright (while still collegial) negotiating communications that I espouse. When those clients write their negotiating email drafts, I inevitably respond, “wow, well done! You’re good at this!”

But most times I do not.  Most clients write excessively anxious, weak, over-diffident email drafts, and also insist to me, in varying levels of anxiety and distress, “I can’t ask for that; that’s too much; I’m going too far; I need to stop here; I’m afraid to alienate them; I give up.”

To all of which I reply, “I will tell you what is too much. And these things, which I’ve just approved, are not.  I will tell you when you need to give up; that time has not yet come.”

To reiterate some basics: in nearly all cases, negotiating is expected and embraced.  It builds rather than harms collegial relationships, and lays a powerful foundation for a hire’s success in the department.* The things I approve/endorse are always finely, delicately, painstakingly calibrated to the rank and type of institution, the field, the geographical location, and the nature of the job. I won’t repeat my negotiating advice here, as it’s available in many other places (see here, here, here and here, as well as the three chapters on the subject in my book, and the excellent webinar recording: How to Negotiate An Academic Job Offer), but basically all negotiations are individual and local, and as long as you understand the parameters of the possible for any given context, you can reliably expect (within certain limitations) to increase your offer.

However, I’ve come to understand that clients’ unwillingness to negotiate reflects not just the standard academic resistance to attaching monetary value to scholarly work, but deeper issues that touch core issues of self-worth, sense of identity, and feelings of legitimacy as a scholar.  Negotiating also touches on and sometimes triggers enduring anxieties of gender, race and class.  Anyone coming from a marginalized subject position in the academy will struggle more to feel entitled to insist on gains in negotiations.  And as time has passed, I’ve come to think of my work with Negotiating clients as a kind of therapy.  Let me explain.

It goes without saying that women struggle to negotiate the most.  Women, socialized by a lifetime of being “less than,” virtually never easily ask for the things to which they are entitled, without a great deal of encouragement and support through our work together.  The process of working with me becomes a process of confronting the highly gendered fear of being seen as an improper woman, and an unacceptable human who has overstepped the bounds of “correct” behavior.  This is magnified, of course, for women of color. As one black woman client wrote,

As you know, I was negotiating with a school with very little wiggle room. I feel that I was walking on eggshells much of the time, trying to avoid annoying them with the ‘wrong’ request.

Another black woman client said:

“I could literally hear myself thinking, “They’re offering me something great, something that a lot of other people would like to have. I should take it.” Learning to say no, to ask again, and to ask for more, wasn’t just about getting my career off to the right start. It also required addressing an old habit: taking whatever’s handed to me without complaint.”

This pattern is based on what I call women’s codependent over-investment in emotional labor and relationship work. An international client shared her anxieties:

I feel that, if I am happy about the offer, not negotiating could be beneficial. That will not only avoid the risk of the rescinded offer but will make it easier for me to start a good relationship with the chair…. I want to prioritize making a good impression or not making a greedy impression to those who will work with me, rather than increasing the money.” (bolding added)

When I encounter this kind of emotional issue, I confront it  head on. To the client above, I wrote back: “It’s not greedy to ask for the support you need for your work!”

And so, with all negotiating clients, once we’ve worked together for some days, and laid a foundation of trust,  I directly address the emotional or psychological barriers that I see emerging that are stopping them from asking for everything to which I *know* they are entitled.  In other words, I don’t just adjust and edit their too-modest asks and anxieties about the process. I actually stop and remark on what I see as the emotional or psychological underpinnings of the asks and the anxieties.

To many clients I write versions of this:

This level of codependency and diffidence will set a bad precedent for the rest of your career at XX; the negotiating exchange sets the tone of your time to come as a colleague, so take care how you engage.

While sometimes it feels odd to make such blunt and psychologizing responses to people I don’t actually know except through email, I also feel a strong ethical obligation to do so, because I know that I’m catching some of the purest and most unadulterated expressions of the Imposter Syndrome, etc. that is so universally destructive to women, particularly women of color, in the academic career. So to ignore the signs now is to miss a critical chance to intervene.

One of the black women clients quoted above remarked:

“I do think the process triggered quite a bit of imposter syndrome. I might even go as far as saying the most I’ve encountered thus far. As far as the school I negotiated with goes, there is a feeling that my failure to ask for specific things will mark me as ignorant of things that any competent professional in the field would know, and this triggered a fear of my being seen as an easy target to take advantage of that may haunt me for years (I’m still dealing with that).”


I’m not saying the process of confronting this is easy.  One WOC client shared her experience (bolding added):


“After conferring with you, I wrote the initial negotiating email and it was the hardest 10 lines I’ve written.   I kept erasing and re-wording and making sure I was using nice language, and being grateful. As an immigrant and a person of color, being grateful and sounding reverential had been chiseled into of me.


“Although I had read all the stuff on how not to act like a woman in the negotiation process, that’s exactly what I was doing, and I knew it. No matter how much I told myself not to, it was hard for me to change my tone. You pushed me to include ‘in recognition of my xx publications, yyy grant awards, zzz, I request a salary of…”‘You told me to ask for more research funds and a higher signing bonus.   ‘You are entitled to ask for more!’ you to wrote me. On some level, I knew what you were saying was true. But on a deeper level, I was scared out of my mind and didn’t actually believe it.”


My women clients frequently tell me that they feel physically ill after just composing the kind of negotiating email mentioned here, let alone after pushing “send” on it.  The client above continued:


“After the email was finalized, I finally submitted it to the university. As the minutes ticked by, I wanted to write to them ‘Just kidding! You don’t need to offer me more. I’ll sign!’


It took everything in me not to email them again. I kept checking my email every two minutes. They didn’t reply until the next day, and I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. ‘They’re going to think I’m ungrateful,’ I kept thinking. They’re going to think I’m greedy.’ “


But here was the result:


“They not only upped my research funds, gave me a large signing bonus, for not one but two years, and upped my salary by more than 10%, but they wanted to make sure I was okay with this new offer. In short, they expected to be negotiating with me. This was completely normal.”


Believe me, I know how hard it is to ask for things, especially in a devastating academic job market where any offer at all can feel like a lifeline from drowning.


It was a horrible year in the job market, worse than I’d seen in the past few years that I had been applying to things. I was afraid of pushing for more, and I was already being offered more than I thought I would ever be getting.


“The competitiveness of the job market, and seeing lots of highly qualified friends and colleagues have no options, fed the guilt I had about turning great offers down.”


And I know that cultural elements can also intervene, in a range of ways, with clients from some regions socialized to extreme diffidence, and others trained to push hard. Both extremes are problematic in a US negotiating context.

First generation scholars struggle as well:

“I am the first person in my family to get a PhD and am the first to enter into academe. My mother was a first generation college student and my father did not complete high school. I’m sure there are plenty of other young academics in similar boats, but what I found striking about negotiating was that I didn’t have anyone in my close, immediate circle to whom I could turn to for advice about the process’s ins and outs. People close to me could offer moral support, but when it came to advising me about what I might ask for, how to navigate this dance, I needed support from people who ranged from professional consultants (like you!) to a range of advisers in my department. It took me back to many, many academic and professional experiences where I have had to not just navigate the system, but learn it from the ground up.”

I take my role particularly seriously with my clients, because I know that their departmental peers and advisors are not always helpful.


I knew, given everything I’ve read, that you don’t accept an initial offer, no matter how good it can be. I began searching online for tips on how not to fall into the gender wage gap by negotiating a higher salary. But nothing I read gave me a real sense of how to do this in the academic world. I knew I was supposed to negotiate, I just didn’t know how. I reached out to my former graduate school advisors, and as wonderful as they are, they didn’t offer any specifics on how to negotiate per se.”


Some advisors are actually dangerously ignorant about the appropriate scope for any given negotiation at small schools with entirely different financial parameters than the R1s at which they work and train Ph.D.s:


“The other side of this comes from my advisors, who, in response to the time issue told me ‘they don’t want you badly enough’ (which I don’t/didn’t at all think was true [KK: I can vouch this was entirely untrue]). They also showed visible disappointment after hearing how much I was able to negotiate salary-wise.”


How dare an advisor show DISAPPOINTMENT about any advisee’s TENURE TRACK OFFER, regardless of the terms?


As we all know, Ph.D. advisors tend to be particularly poor at coping with their advisees’ emotional challenges.  Advising  can be especially fraught for people of color, where success might be attributed by white advisors and peers to affirmative action:


“Early in the year, one of my colleagues said they were reading the jobs Wiki. I shared that I wasn’t. I didn’t want the ulcer I assumed it would cause. But, I did ask him what folks said, what he learned. His reply: That most of the positions in our field were going to women of color. As a woman of color, it made me uncomfortable and glad I didn’t read the Wiki. I could still remember the sting of a peer saying, after I landed a fellowship in the department, “Ah, so you’re the new affirmative action hire.” He patted me on the back. “Just kidding.” Not really, and also that wasn’t the first time someone had commented on my race in regards to a new job or position. It was impossible to leave these feelings behind in the negotiation process. I knew that what was negotiating a great job, for me, was for some an example of how I was hired primarily to diversify a department’s ranks.”


In addition, some hiring departments, intentionally or not, employ high-pressure methods and rushed timelines that fuel new hire anxiety, which is especially brutalizing to codependent women hires:

“the very short timeline they gave me (which limited or prevented my ability to negotiate with other schools) had left me questioning my decisions. In this way, I feel like the process actually introduced new feelings of insecurity about the offer that I accepted and the things that I asked for”

In these cases I always respond:

Don’t allow them to hassle you for a quick response!  Allowing yourself to feel frazzled and rushed is part of the gendered codependent pattern. It’s good practice for the rest of your career  to be aware of that.”

For all these reasons, negotiating is the point in the job market process where a new hire’s identity becomes absolutely central to the process, in ways that can trigger emotional responses that may not be entirely rational, or even conscious.


And so the work of negotiating can touch on deep questions of motivation and self-worth.  Even those with confidence can find it daunting, but the process for those who lack confidence, and/or come from a place of gender, race, class, or other anxieties can be absolutely debilitating.

But the stakes of doing so are immense:

“Ever since that experience, I learned, just by being coached about how to write an email like this that put a monetary value on my work, that my work was valuable. I always thought about my work as valuable in some sort of intellectual way. But never in a monetary way.”

“In college one of my friends told me, “No is a love word.” This was a complete revelation to me. I was used to saying yes to every challenge put before me and over-performing and over-compensating to make other people happy. The benefit of being able to pull this off is that, on one hand, I did great academic work and a lot of it. On the other, I didn’t know how to set a boundary and my sense of professional self-worth was wrapped up in how much I got done and what other people in my field thought of me. In negotiating, one of the emotional challenges was realizing it’s OK to say no”

Additionally, negotiating work sets the tone of a new hire’s entire relationship with the department moving forward. And so, when I help clients negotiate, once we’ve laid a solid groundwork of trust in one another and in the offer process (ie, that I trust the institution is invested in good faith negotiation), I foreground emotional issues that I see arise, treating the work as a kind of therapy.  These emotional issues impact your entire career  moving forward, and the negotiation is far from the last time you’ll need to ask for what you want. In fact, it may well just be the first in a lifetime of other moments. As the client above wrote,

“Ever since this experience with you, I now ask for honorariums when I’m invited to give a talk, and ask to be paid to write when a non-academic publication asks for my analysis. Theoretically, I always knew that I had to do this, but I never knew how, nor did I have the confidence to do so. Sometimes, all it takes is someone giving you the words to demand that your work be valued. And reminding you ‘you are entitled to ask for more!'”

So, if you work with me, be prepared!  I may get all up into your feelings at some point in our work!  I want to hear from you if you sense impulses within yourself that are holding you back from insisting on your value, and stating your needs. (In fact, I’m linking this very blog post as one of the required readings of Negotiating Assistance work moving forward.)

To conclude: a good negotiation can be transformative. As another WOC  with whom I worked put it so beautifully:

“I do think the process is incredibly transformative… there’s a deeper emotional shift that radiates into other dimensions of life…personal, familial, creative. We spend so much of our time in academia feeling afraid of being crushed by the institutional machine. This is a rare moment where the playing field levels. We gain insight into the inner workings and as a result are able to focus our energies on other, more interesting of life’s mysteries.”



*There are such things as rescinded offers. I encounter 1-2 per year, usually.  In general the warning signs are visible, and we can take steps to avoid this terrible outcome.


Leaving the Academy: A View From a Creative Field (A Postac Guest Post)

Dr. Richard Graham is our newest post-ac coach.  He has a Ph.D. in Music Technology, and is dedicated in particular to helping those in creative fields make the transition to industry. He will be contributing a three-part series of posts to the blog. This is his first.


Richard’s Bio: I am a guitarist, music producer and former academic from Northern Ireland. I received my PhD from Ulster University in 2012 and I am now the CEO of music technology, Delta Sound Labs, in the United States. My work in the music industry spans guitar and computer-based performance, music production, synchronizations for TV, film and video games and music education outside of higher-level institutions. My company focuses on the development of hardware and software for creatives, with a specific interest in modular synthesis and audio effects plugins and has recently engaged in projects at the Technicolor Experience Center in Los Angeles and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. I maintain a personal website for personal music projects and research at and my company website is located at

Twitter: @rickygraham


Leaving academia was, unsurprisingly, difficult. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. It happened gradually over a number of years.

I was fortunate enough to walk out of a PhD straight into a tenure-track job with a decent salary and benefits. The first few years were incredibly tough, but as time went on, things improved. I received more support for research, as well as pre-tenure course releases to permit adequate time to publish and present my creative work. I built a pretty solid tenure portfolio and had some great references lined up for my tenure case. I had the full support of my fellow faculty members and the Dean. Everything was set for success.

Concurrently, my wife Laura, also a professor, and I were experiencing the two-body problem. We had three house payments in two continents and spent three months apart from one another due to working on separate continents. It was a pretty ridiculous situation to be in after five years of attempting to find work in the same city, which shouldn’t have been unrealistic given our job locations (New York and Boston). We’d had enough and decided to reset in her home state of Tennessee to be closer to her family. So far, notwithstanding some transitional teething issues, this was the right choice for us. The cost of living is much better and we are near her family. We even have lunch together on a regular basis. The quality of life has drastically improved by tearing off the bandaid and forcing simplification without too many guarantees.

Was this easy? No. The sunken-cost of time invested was difficult to set aside. My final year on the tenure-track was easily the best of the bunch. I was teaching an enjoyable graduate course online and presenting my work at institutions all over Europe. My work environment had steadily improved over the years and that only made the departure process more difficult. The turning point for me was when I sat down and really thought about what making tenure would really mean for me. Did I actually want to be a tenured professor? Did I want to succeed at something and see it through to the end? Sure, but not at the expense of my happiness and family. At that point, my teaching load and research support was finally sufficient, but if I were to make tenure, I would propel towards increased administrative and teaching duties with less time for creative projects and less research support as I would no longer be considered a priority. I didn’t care about the title or stature. I wanted my time back and I wanted to feel less pressure in my life.

The cost of living was also a factor. There was simply no longevity in a salary that wasn’t commensurate with the cost of living. We could barely afford to rent in the same town as my university, never mind entertain the idea of a mortgage payment. Each year we watched as our lease renewal included a more than $100 a month increase in rent. Even if I had successfully achieved tenure, the jump in salary would still be insufficient to offset the exponential rise in the cost of living. That was no one’s fault but my own, of course. I accepted the salary without knowing how best to negotiate for higher pay. I knew nothing of the area going into the job, the cost of living, or prospects for property investment in the city to which we would be moving. It was all very exciting at the time for a 26 year old ABD doctoral candidate, but the result was a total mess.

With that said, plenty of what I achieved as a tenure-track professor is immediately transferable to multiple creative industries. Leaving academia doesn’t mean that years invested are lost. Simply put, it’s a matter of reframing and relaunching. The good news for the majority of creatives is that a lot of what you’re doing already as part of your creative practice is probably situated pretty close to where it needs to be for the post-academy life. Practical teaching and research experience is easily reframed as a consulting service, whether that be music production or software development. I have discovered that my experiences designing and producing mixed-media installations and music performances that I completed as part of my tenure dossier are highly sought after by small media companies. This is particularly the case with spatial audio for gaming and mixed-reality platforms. The market is rife with those who want to do it but don’t know how to do it. The bottom line: there’s plenty of work to be had as a consultant for those coming from the arts. More generally across all academic specializations, experience in running conferences, creating and managing curricula, and serving on a variety of committees are directly mappable to multiple kinds of project management scenarios in my related industry. I will delve into more specific examples further in the next blog post.

My wife Laura has made the courageous decision to leave academia, too, and pursue a law degree – something she always wanted to do –  and I have started a music technology company. I have more time to do what I want. Life is simpler with fewer commitments and my mental and physical well-being have improved as a result. Do I miss academia? Generally, no. I miss the faculty I would call friends and my students. Now I am able to prioritize family and career goals better aligned with my interests without constraint.

Over the next two entries, I will present my real-world experiences from my own transition from the academy to creative industry including how I have reframed my skill sets to better suit industry job opportunities, specifically contract work, obtaining additional certifications, and private instruction. I will also discuss how I have approached the development of my music technology startup, Delta Sound Labs, the challenges I have faced so far, and future plans for the business and my post-ac life.

#MakeupMonday: Updates From Karen

Some of you may have noticed a slowing down of posting on the blog and social media at The Professor Is In over the past couple of months. That is because Kellee and I are dealing with a family medical emergency that has taken us out of the office for extended periods of time. It even led to our cancelling our planned March speaking tour of the UK, Ireland, and Switzerland, which was so painful.

We are still in the midst of it, so I can’t offer any insights or resolution at this point. But I did want to share, that through it all, my skin care and makeup routines have continued to have a steadying and calming effect.  It’s strange, but it’s almost a meditative state that I enter while I do these routines.

And, in a season of sadness and worry, I can gaze upon my newly lush eyelashes and brows, courtesy of the obscenely expensive but good-lord-is-it-worth-it Rodan and Fields Enhancement Lash Boost, with delight and a true sense of accomplishment! 🙂

Seriously, look at these lashes!  And I’ve stopped using brow pencil entirely!




Anyway, many of you have taken the time to comment, in writing or in person, how much these #MakeupMonday posts have meant to you, and I’m so grateful.  I felt strange starting to post about makeup on this blog, but it also felt important. Your comments have confirmed to me that it is.  Here is one comment I have received:

I absolutely love this. I suffer from PTSD and have been in and out of the hospital for different surgeries and etc for the past three years. Skin care has saved my life, as silly as this sounds. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to bed every evening. I used to struggle with insomnia and crippling anxiety about getting out of bed in the morning due to agoraphobia. Because of skin care I find myself able to wind down at night, and do something for me every single morning. It has helped me time and time again– and even now as I’m typing this while waiting for my facial mask to dry. lol! I must say you look absolutely stunning! Glad to hear I am not the only one who has found skin care to be an amazing and life changing coping skill.

But most positive commentary comes not in writing but in person, from women (so far) whom I meet on my visits to campuses.  I get the impression that the series has a LOT of fans, but fans who are not necessarily willing to comment in writing, which to my mind likely speaks to the continuing shame around makeup, skin care, and issues of appearance in the academy.

But I never visit a campus now without someone mentioning their love of #MakeupMonday.

So I just want to urge you all to continue embracing whatever helps you cope. If that’s makeup or skin care, enjoy it, and share it with others!

And now, today, in that spirit, I want to share some product updates. In an early post, I mentioned that I finally committed to a blush, after a couple years of drifting around using my daughter’s cast-offs.

This is it: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush, which I got in a free sample from Sephora–YAY! (Note, the “Paaarty” color is only available at Sephora, I believe).

This Tarte blush is natural, blendable, not too shimmery, and long-lasting for long days on campus.

In my search I tried all sorts of high-end blushes, including a Becca and the cult-favorite Nars Orgasm, but I didn’t like them. Both Becca and Nars were just too shimmery for a middle-aged face.

As I’ve mentioned, there are trends in makeup that middle-aged people cannot just adopt but must adapt, and the shimmer trend is one of them.  It’s not that I can’t do any; I just have to be highly selective about what kind of shimmer, and how much I use.  The It Cosmetics Hello Light Anti-Aging Luminizing Creme Stick I mentioned in an earlier post is wonderful for this–adjusted for aging skin, it is subtle and highly blendable and non-creasing.

In a similar vein, I did finally spring for the Yves Saint Lauren Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting pen, after the benefit of a color consult at the Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco during a visit there with my daughter and her roommate a few months ago (as you may recall, I had to return my first Touche Eclat, because I bought the wrong color).

This product is a cult item among women my age, because it provides an extremely subtle glow that truly, genuinely looks like your actual skin rather than a product applied to your skin. While the “I’m obviously wearing a ton of highlighter” look is part of the current Full Beat face, it’s a nightmare on older skin. But Touche Eclat–well, that’s another thing entirely.  I’m actually going to share the YSL marketing verbiage because, it really accurately describes just what this wonderful product does, no lie! (bolding added)

What it is:
A highlighting pen that brightens, smooths, and perfects your complexion with a natural-looking, radiant finish.

What it does:
Highlight your best features without any shimmer or glitter. The original magic wand and the makeup artists’ go-to secret weapon, this pen is a multi-use radiance booster that instantly brightens, smooths, and perfects while letting your own skin come through for a beautiful, natural glow. It brightens the complexion to fight dullness, fatigue, and bring light to the face.

The light-infused pigments in Touche Eclat smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles, giving your features a lifted look without risk of caking or creasing. It perfects your makeup, gives your lips a natural-looking plump, and erases any traces of mascara flakes, eyeshadow fallout, or smudged lipstick.

What else you need to know:
The award-winning Touche Eclat Pen is sold every ten seconds. It contains good for you ingredients that boost the luminosity of your skin. It’s infused with hyaluronic acid to increase hydration and plump skin and vitamin E delivers antioxidant care to help fight the visible signs of fatigue, while ultra-fine micro-pearls boost radiance. Touche Eclat Pen features the ultimate on-the-go, built-in, tapered brush for maximum control and precision.

I do recommend it!

In the meantime, thought, I’ve actually de-shimmered one part of my routine.  I’ve switched primers!  While I used and adored the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Luminizer Primer for quite a while and highly recommend it, I have actually switched to Peter Thomas Roth Skin to Die For No-Filter Mattifying Primer.

I don’t need a mattifying primer, actually, as I don’t have a problem with oily skin. But I got this in a sample from Sephora, and what I loved about it was that, like it says, it does basically disappear your pores. And, it makes a smooth, blendable surface for foundation that is unparalleled.  And, in addition, it doesn’t get shimmer build-up awkwardly on the brow area, which was an ongoing annoyance with the Dr. Brandt Luminizer.

So, as you can see, my experimentations continue.  And in a hard season of life, they give me pleasure and something to look forward to each morning and evening.

And readers: keep sharing your makeup and skin care thoughts and reflections (and successes and failures) in the comments! I love reading them!


*My regular intro:

Welcome to #MakeupMonday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:



#MakeupMonday: The Full-Beat Face

This piece from WaPo, “Brows, Contour, Lips, Lashes: How the ‘full-beat face’ took over the Internet,” by Lavanya Ramanathan, is fascinating!   Read it for the videos, which are aMAZing!!!

I don’t take a position one way or another about the Full Beat Face, but I am really happy to have this cultural analysis of it.  Undoubtedly, at some very indirect level, mediated through my teenage daughter, it’s also behind my impulse to start #MakeupMonday.

“The full-beat face has become the ubiquitous face of the Internet, a strange mirror of Kim Kardashian’s visage but also somehow just like Internet influencer Huda Kattan’s and Kylie Jenner’s, too.

Instagram is awash in full-beat glory. The indie makeup brand ColourPop regularly shares gauzy selfies of young women wearing their popular matte lipsticks, fingers seductively held up to their mouths. Save for variations in skin color and precise shade of shimmering eye shadow, the women all look uncannily the same.

It’s the “Instagram look,” says Christen Irias, another Los Angeles-based makeup artist and YouTube star better known to her fans as Christen Dominique. “When you take a picture, you lose the dimension on your face. The light will wash it away.” Over time, savvy ’Grammers realized that with a small mountain of makeup — a Patrick Starrr or NikkieTutorials video will regularly feature as many as 20 products — you could replace the shadows and the light and then some.

Dominique, who refers to the face as “full glam,” ticks off what it requires: “an elongated eye, lashes, contouring, bronzing, highlighting and sculpting,” she says. A theatrical set of drawn-on brows. And finally, it almost always features a matte lip so overdrawn that it can look like an allergic reaction, if not a syringe full of Juvéderm.

Dominique, Simondac and other YouTube makeup artists have made minor fortunes posting makeup tutorials. Just one of Dominique’s “full glam” lessons has 11 million views.

So now, it’s likely that even you have seen the face, maybe in your very own home, where your teenage daughters (or sons) lately are lingering too long in front of the bathroom mirror, “bouncing” foundation onto their crease-less cheeks, “baking” banana-colored powder under their eyes, penciling in tiny hair marks above their eyes so carefully that when they’re done, their eyebrows are creations on a par with van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

“It’s extreme in person,” acknowledges Dominique. “But it looks great in pictures.”

And the pictures, of course, are what so much of modern life is about.”

The piece goes on, ”

“None of this accounts for why makeup, and simply watching it being applied, has become the favorite pastime of a generation of young women and men.

What does explain it is our increasing obsession with representations of ourselves in the online world.”


“Perhaps Even a Crisis”: How to Sully the Purity of a Vocation

There is a new piece from Cultural Anthropology, “Academic Precarity in American Anthropology,”  — co-written by a Full Prof at Duke and her new Ph.D. son who has “chosen” non-academic work — that literally defies description in its elitism, sanctimoniousness, and utter cluelessness about the conditions of academic labor for the past twenty years.

I’ve spent years lobbing bombs at the MLA for its job market insensitivity but honestly the MLA is Job Market Cutting Edge compared to this.

I’m ashamed of my field.  Anthropology has embarrassed itself vis-a-vis History, Sociology, and the MLA fields.  Worse, Anthropology doesn’t understand that it has embarrassed itself, which means the rest of us have to be embarrassed for it.  Adddendum 2/18: For years I noticed the absence of a serious investment in career/professionalization events on the official program at the annual AAAs, compared to the very real shifts in the programs happening at the MLA and the AHA, for example. I kept sort of excusing it… but no more. Now I understand the discipline is truly out of touch and indifferent to the real suffering of job seekers, and unwilling to engage with the idea of academic work as compensated labor. And that this refusal is seen as a signifier of ideological purity.

You can read the long piece yourself, but for now, let me just share a bunch of quotes, which really should be all you need to see. The piece ends with a rote set of generically blameless suggestions for things like better career services, placement data, yadda yadda….  but the thing is…

These are all presented as “insights” about the anthropology tenure track job market in 2018.

In 2018.

They literally JUST figured out that this was an issue worthy of attention.

In 2018.

As the authors write, without a shred of self-consciousness:

“This process has led [Anne] to an awareness of the need to become more cognizant of not only the routes to employment outside the academy, but also the negative consequences that holding on to an increasingly elusive professional ideal can have on those being trained.”

This is the apotheosis of #tenuresplaining.

No there is nothing technically incorrect about the observations or suggestions that follow–but the fact that the authors present them as new, and that they talk right over the space already vibrantly occupied by the actual academic precariat, which has been publishing on this for decades now, is in and of itself the manifestation of the privileged insularity of the tenured and their sanctioned ignorance of these decades of actual human suffering wrought by the depredations of the academic job market.

This job market is not “daunting” or “uncertain” or “volatile” or other pretentious evasions scattered throughout the essay. It is in a state of catastrophic 40-year-long collapse that has destroyed countless lives. And elite faculty, who by their own admission ( as in this piece) “don’t know what the fuck we are doing,” have failed utterly to train their students to cope with this catastrophe…. while at the same time (as in this piece) sniffily dismissing their students’ efforts to find advising elsewhere.

This sanctioned ignorance, friends, is why nothing changes.

For a palate cleanser, read this piece, written in words of fire, by this emerita professor of English Sharon O’Dair, that came out in the same week in the Chronicle (which I unilaterally de-paywalled): Shamelessness and Hypocrisy at the MLA.

English: 1, Anthro: 0


Selected quotes:

the scarcity and competitiveness of these positions is daunting.

Indeed, attaining a tenure-track position is still expected, if not exactly assumed, particularly in highly ranked departments at elite institutions.

This discrepancy between an aspirational norm and a more volatile reality, begs the question: if the outcome for as many as 80 percent of graduate students will be something other than a tenure-track job, why are PhD programs almost exclusively training them for a professional life that few will realize?

How do faculty and new graduates alike make sense of such pervasive “failure” on the job market?

How do students manage the uncertainty of professional futures during what can be a lengthy and grueling period of graduate training? And, as the viability of our current model of professional reproduction becomes increasingly untenable, what, if anything, is emerging to take its place? {bolding added}

The two of us, from quite different positions, have been struggling with these issues for some time. {bolding added}

She has dealt with her own students facing the travails of the job market for years. And she is part of a department where the issue has been recognized as an increasingly critical one, discussed by faculty in recent years with a new sense of urgency. {bolding added}

In what follows, we seek to understand why a standard of professional success is being maintained—indeed, normalized—despite the fact that is presently unattainable by all but a few.

we consider the professional training and subsequent employment of anthropologists in terms of both vocation and job. This is an inherently tense coupling, as Max Weber noted almost a century ago in his analysis of the capitalist spirit infusing the university system, one at odds with the vocational calling experienced by academics. {bolding added}

By calling the academic market precarious, we wish to emphasize how intrinsically and insidiously these two factors can be linked: the rigid clinging to an aspirational norm that, realizable by only a select few, contributes to the precaritization (as with, but not limited to, the adjunctification) of anthropology PhDs, more and more of whom are being produced by our departments. {bolding added}

Throughout this essay, our supposition is that academic anthropology’s limited labor market indexes broader and deeper problems in higher education.

few faculty members or PhD students have much awareness of what it takes to find such work, outside of applied anthropology programs that are typically offered at the master’s level and outside the R1 bubble. {bolding added}

such ignorance stems, we will argue, from the stigma that still attends applied and nonacademic work within anthropology: what are seen (and often dismissed) as instrumental jobs that sully the purity of a vocation. {bolding added}

It fails to recognize that the promise of a nonutilitarian professional existence—one operating outside of contemporary capitalism and its spiritual depredations—is ultimately a partial truth at best, as Weber recognized so long ago.{bolding added}

Making something as scarce as a tenure-track job in anthropology so normatively aspirational can actually promote a different kind of instrumentality. Among graduate students in particular, fears about the job market are increasingly dominant and have real consequences not only on professional futures, but also on the kinds of projects young scholars pursue—and thus the shape of the discipline as a whole. {bolding added}

Before proceeding, given our different positions in the field and relations to it (let alone to one another), some background about the origins of our collaboration is in order. The project began in the summer of 2017 when David (Anne’s son) began working at Adobe: a move that Anne initially found perplexing. Though she was well aware of the uncertainty of the academic market from her graduate students and had experienced her own professional anxieties (and a difficult tenure process) over the years, it had been over twenty-five years since she landed a tenure-track position and she was both secure and content in the scholarly environment of her home institution, Duke. Why would her son so hastily pursue industrial work and forego applying for postdocs or visiting professorships—the route she always advised her own students to take? {bolding added}

[David’s non-ac industry position is] hardly a perfect scenario, in other words, but a satisfying one. For Anne, seeing this scenario up close has been instructive. As a senior scholar whose research has for many years been materialist, examining relations of production, reproduction, and, more recently, labor precarity in postindustrial Japan, Anne came to better understand the labor dynamics involved in her own profession through observing David’s experiences. This process has led her to an awareness of the need to become more cognizant of not only the routes to employment outside the academy, but also the negative consequences that holding on to an increasingly elusive professional ideal can have on those being trained. {bolding added}

For now, when asked how graduate students in their own departments were doing on the job market and whether our speculative figure of 16 to 21 percent resonated, just over half of respondents said that this proportion felt intuitively correct, if not a little high. The other half reported slightly better figures, typically citing the fact that their department was highly ranked. Yet even in such elite programs, faculty recognized that their graduate students perceived the situation to be precarious, perhaps even a crisis. In fact, many faculty described both an awareness of the pressures graduate students face and a sense of paralysis around how they could or should respond. Several faculty members noted that they simply hadn’t been trained to be job counselors, at least for work outside of the academy. “I am going to be honest. We don’t know what the fuck we are doing,” a recently tenured professor at a prestigious institution said. “Many of our best students aren’t getting jobs and we don’t know how to help them.” {bolding added}

Even faculty members who are more skeptical about a perceived crisis in today’s labor market recognized that graduate students today are deeply anxious. {bolding added}

One faculty member lamented that many ambitious graduate students fashion themselves early in their training as fully fledged scholarly brands. They do so with customized websites, regularly updated Twitter feeds, and so on, making themselves into entrepreneurs defined by a specific niche instead of initiates into a field of intellectual and relational engagement. {bolding added}

Such motivations index a set of disciplinary transformations that some faculty participants found irksome. One tenured faculty member bemoaned this tendency, which she described as “reactionary,” in both students and junior colleagues. Simply doing whatever it takes to get a job should not be why one goes to graduate school in anthropology, she said. Otherwise, why not just become a banker? {bolding added}



I’ll stop here, which is not even halfway through the piece,  since I think you now get the gist of it.  This is not The Onion. (Oh and BTW, I am referenced, and not in a complimentary fashion, lol, shortly after the above).

I shall now summarize for you the larger claim:

The job market is bad.

Perhaps even a crisis.

But we’re not sure.

The grad students certainly seem stressed.

I wonder why.

But this much we know:

That caring about getting a job to practice your discipline makes you instrumentalizing.

And utilitarian.

Because then you are careerist.

And calculate things like publications.

And cv lines!

And try and get help with career-building.

And that is bad!

Irksome, even!

Because it betrays the vocation.

Oh!  Quelle Irony!

Oh Weber, where are you when we need you?

Marx, can you not save us?

Oh {wringing hands} we had better conduct an ethnography!

And publish a piece!

Using words like phenomenology! and ethics!

That shall become a line on our CVs!

Why hello, merit raise.




#MakeupMonday: How I Got My Lashes Back

See regular Intro to the #MakeupMonday series below.


Remember my previous post on eye makeup, and my attempts to find a good long-wear mascara that stays on through my dance classes and long speaking days on campuses while not irritating my hyper-sensitive eyes? I talk about my love of Eyeko Sport Mascara, which is an amazing product that stay on through rivers of sweat–yay!

But in that post I noted that one of my big challenges was just getting mascara to stay on my thin middle-aged lashes at all:

My only complaint about Eyeko is its huge curved brush that scatters mascara everywhere. Not to make everything about age, but another aspect of middle-aged eyes is thin eyelashes. They won’t hold mascara bulk, and if you’re not very very careful, the product flies through them onto your skin.

It was SUCH a hassle trying apply any mascara at all, no matter what kind, because every single time I ended up with mascara-scatter all over my eyelids. I’d use my Elf Makeup Remover Pen, which was fine… except that doing that would inevitably wipe off some of my painstakingly applied eyeshadow as well.


So, I decided to work on the problem.  And I found two solutions that have truly made a difference. I now have lashes! That are visible! And mascara-spatter is a thing of the past. Check it out:



2018 – lashes AND brows!









[Update one month later:









What did I do?

First, I started using lash primer.  I actually used lash primer years ago with L’Oreal Paris Double Extend, and really liked it. But as so often happens with makeup, you move on, and get into new products, and forget about old loves. And when I moved to higher end  mascara I just assumed that primer was no longer necessary.

But that didn’t account for my aging lash situation!  After months of frustration, I finally in exasperation googled, “how to stop mascara from spattering,” and lo, suggestion #1 was: use primer.

So I did. I went first to my old standby, L’Oreal, because as with all things makeup, I never spring for high end items until I’m sure I can get behind the basic idea first.  So I got L’Oreal Voluminous Primer at Riteaid. And instantly–it solved the problem of mascara-spatter.  Just, gone. No more. At all.  Like magic.  The primer just went on white, dried clear, and then grabbed hold of any and all mascara and allowed not a single speck to pass through onto my lids. I was thrilled!

But the L’Oreal product was thick and clumpy and hard to manage. So when I found the chance to get a free sample of the legendary Lancome Cils Booster XL at Sephora, I jumped at it.

And….wow…. this is a wonderful, spectacular lash primer. Because it contains fibers, it visibly extends your lashes out to amazing lengths. And it HOLDS–so your mascara is as fresh at the end of the day as the beginning.

I thought: my search is OVER!

Until…  dance class…. and red, irritated, inflamed eyes…. tears mixed with sweat… running down my cheeks.

So sad.

My search continued.

Right now, I’m trying out Blinc Lash Primer and Clinique Lash Building Primer. Neither delivers the amazing length of Lancome, and the Blinc is oddly clumpy, but the Clinique does a good job, and looks like it’s going to be see me through dance class.

I’ll keep you updated on results.  But suffice to say:  I am never going primer-less again.

Second, I started using an eyelash growth serum.

I began with  Organys Lash and Brow Booster Serum, and used it for over a year.  I chose it based on Amazon reviews (there are almost 8000!), and…. it worked.  Particularly on my eyebrows, which grew in REALLY well.  My lash outcome was less dramatic, but they definitely got consistently filled in.  No more holes and gaps, which had become a daily irritation.

And interestingly, when I stopped using it for a couple weeks while traveling, my lashes noticeably thinned back out.

Based on my success with Organys,  a few months ago I decided to spring for the Rodan & Fields Lash Boost that gets all kinds of buzz, especially as seen on a new Makeup for Academics Facebook group that I belong to, that was apparently inspired by #MakeupMonday on Professor Is In! (Check out DoctorWhy’s Makeup Academy here.)

It’s a LOT more expensive, and I hesitated a long time.  But people on the Facebook page raved about it, and I subjected it to my “forget about it” test (ie, in a couple months have I totally moved on to some new obsession?) and found that I just couldn’t quite set down the idea of trying it. So I finagled it as a Christmas present!

And wow.  Yeah, it has made a major difference, even compared to my already improved Organys lashes.

not a great pic, but visible lashes!

My lashes are now not just filled in, but actually noticeably longer and noticeably thicker.  And my brows are so much thicker that it’s actually a little bit jarring to look in the mirror. I look…different. For awhile I kept thinking: ack, I over-penciled my brows only to realize: wait, that’s just how they look now…

But honestly, if your budget very reasonably precludes spending $150 on lash serum, I highly recommend Organys.  That stuff, at a MUCH more reasonable $24.99 on Amazon, will make a difference — as long as you stick with it. Because no matter what brand lash serum you use, you have to use it faithfully for 8-12 weeks to see an impact.




*My regular intro:

Welcome to #MakeupMonday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:



Know These Things Before Negotiating

Yesterday I led the first Negotiating webinar of this academic year; I’m already deep in Negotiating Assistance help, which started in earnest in December.  Each year that I have offered this help, I’ve noticed that the timeline of offers has moved up.

(I’ll offer the How to Negotiate Your Academic Job webinar again in March, most likely, but if you need help prior to that, you can get the recording here, or just contact me to work with you individually, at

I updated the Negotiating webinar this year to include info and advice for non-tenure track offers, including VAPs, postdocs, professor of practice positions, and multi-year instructor positions, because those are so common these days.

And I also added new slides to help hammer home some points that I want all negotiators, particularly for the tenure track, to understand.  These are related to the 1% vs. 99% aspect of academic offers in this day and age.

Right now, there are haves and have-nots of the academic world. I wrote about this in this Chronicle Vitae column called Disappointed With the Offer? In that column I wrote,

“there are increasing numbers of offers that, even after some negotiation, do not provide sufficient salary for a family to live on, or for an individual to pay off six-figure student debt. They do not cover even a fraction of a family’s moving costs and provide no support at all for the crushing costs of rental (let alone purchase) of a home in an obscenely expensive location. Indeed, some offers have no scope for negotiation at all. When you try, the department will simply say “no.” That happened to two of my clients last week.”

I still feel that these disparities are not sufficiently understood, particularly as they pertain to variations among both types of institutions, and types of disciplines.

So, I added these slides to the webinar, and to make them better known, I’m sharing them here now. While these are not “real” figures from actual negotiations — and should NOT be taken as conclusive parameters for your own negotiation, which is always unique and distinctive to the specifics of YOUR case —  they are representative aggregate figures based on hundreds of negotiations I’ve assisted with.

(HI SLAC  = elite SLAC like Williams or Amherst, and Reg. Coll = Regional Teaching College)


These vast disparities also can complicate matters beyond simple binaries. After all, a Finance tenure track offer at a small resource poor teaching college may well pay more salary than a German tenure track offer at an R1…

Because of this, I make two key recommendations prior to entering any negotiation. The first is: Evaluate Context Carefully, using your best Ph.D.-level research and detective skills.

And the second is, get help.  Because negotiating is difficult to do well, and easy to do badly. It is as common to accept a problematically low offer as it is to demand an excessively high offer, for the same reason: Because you don’t know the norms of your field and the type of institution you’re dealing with.  This understanding requires a depth of contexual and institutional knowledge that few brand new Ph.D.s possess or have reason to possess.

And especially for new Ph.D.s, who have spent many long years being grossly undervalued, and disrespected, it is almost impossible to have an accurate sense of your own value in a negotiation, and to veer wildly in tone between obsequiousness, and a kind of indignant entitlement (sometimes, I’m afraid, the result of a misread of The Professor Is In!)

So, in sum, use your giant Ph.D.-level brain to really investigate the financial and cultural norms of your field and the kind of institution you’re dealing with, prior to embarking on negotiations.  And, take your time, don’t just say yes immediately to any offer, and get the help and advice of someone who has your back.

A New Webinar on Sexual Harassment in the Academy

I have developed a new webinar inspired by the Sexual Harassment in the Academy Crowdsource Survey (now over 2300 entries), and I want you to know about it.  Please join me on Feb. 22 at 6 PM EST; see the description below.  It is free to all, but you do have to register.

Also in February I’m offering the Campus Visit webinar and a newly-expanded How to Negotiate Your Academic Job Offer webinar (which addresses postdoc offers and full time non-tenure track offers as well]). You can see those descriptions below.



#MeTooPhd: Sexual Harassment in the Academy

In this brand new webinar, I will discuss some things I learned from the experience of creating the Sexual Harassment Crowdsource Survey, including the range and scope of sexual harassment in academic settings (including departments, labs, research centers, campuses, academic conferences, etc.), patterns of predation, options for victims, and recommendations to institutions wishing to combat this scourge in the #MeTooPhD moment. I will discuss the profiles of predators that emerged from the survey, common patterns of protection/enabling/silencing of victims by colleagues and administrators, and particular vulnerabilities of women of color and queer/trans women in these contexts.

**This webinar does NOT include any specific information shared by any of the contributors to the survey.  The content is based on larger-scale patterns that I saw emerge from many stories, and thoughts and ideas I have about ways to move forward.***

I will talk about why academia is so conducive to this form of harassment, and I will focus in particular on suggestions to help vulnerable populations recognize and confront harassment, in order to empower victims and potential victims to protect themselves, find both formal and informal support and make educated decisions about going public.

I’ll discuss the pros and cons of filing formal complaints, the current resources and limitations of Title IX policies, and immediate steps that departments and disciplinary associations can take to lessen the occurrence of harassment on campus and at conferences.

Includes 30 minutes of Q and A

All who register have access to a recording, even if they can’t attend the live event.

This webinar is free to all, but you do have to register at the link below.

2/22 at 6 PM EST



Other February Webinars, including this one coming up this Thursday!

Campus Visit Webinar

In this 90 minute webinar I walk you through the basic expectations and potential pitfalls of the dreaded Campus Visit (sometimes called a Fly-Out). We will cover all of the core elements, including:

  • The three key criteria at play in a campus visit

  • The single biggest pitfall for candidates

  • The basic organization of a campus visit

  • The initial arrangements and scheduling

  • Preparing for the visit

  • Meetings with faculty, Head, Dean, and graduate students

  • The formal interview with the Search Committee

  • The job talk and Q and A

  • The teaching demo

  • Handling meals gracefully

  • Maintaining your stamina

  • Evaluating campus climate

  • What to wear, especially in cold weather

As always there will be time for Q and A at the end. You will have access to a recording of the webinar 24 hours after the event.

Campus visits are hard!  A little advance knowledge will save a world of hurt!


Thursday 2/1 at 7 PM EST/23:00 GMT. 

Cost:   $50

After completing payment by clicking below, you will be redirected to the dedicated Go-To-Meeting Webinar Registration page, where you will fill out a registration form and be given instructions and an access code to sign in on your chosen day. 

Add to Cart

How to Negotiate Your Academic Job Offer

The rescinded offer is unfortunately more common than ever, and it is imperative that candidates understand when and how to appropriately negotiate an academic job offer. Negotiating IS still standard and expected for the vast majority of all tenure track offers, but it takes skill to do it correctly, asking for all you can while retaining good relations with the department.

This webinar breaks down the stages of the academic job offer negotiation process, explains the things that can and can’t be negotiated at different types of jobs (including postdocs and full time non-tenure track positions), and different ranks and types of institutions.  It provides examples of successful negotiating language as well as common negotiating errors and pitfalls.

Negotiating points we’ll examine include salary, teaching release, moving expenses, start-up funds, conference and travel funding, research leave/junior sabbatical, summer salary, and the spousal hire.

We’ll discuss how to evaluate the culture and expectations of the institution and calibrate requests to the institutional context. We will dispassionately examine the phenomenon of the rescinded offer.  I’ll give examples from successful and unsuccessful recent negotiations that I’ve worked on through my Negotiating Assistance service.

And we’ll consider special challenges for women and people from communities historically marginalized in the academy.

Includes 30 minutes of Q and A.  Participants also get $100 off the cost of individual Negotiating Assistance (normally $500 [ $600 for advanced/senior positions])

You will have access to a free download of the event will be available for one week after the date.


Thursday 2/8 at 6 PM EST/23:00 GMT

After completing payment by clicking below, you will be redirected to the dedicated Go-To-Meeting Webinar Registration page, where you will fill out a registration form and be given instructions and an access code to sign in on your chosen day. 

Add to Cart



#MakeupMonday: Skin Care as Coping Mechanism and Catalyst

One of my favorite writers, Jia Tolentino, wrote a piece in The New Yorker recently, The Year Skin Care Became a Coping Mechanism, that spoke to me deeply.  Read this excerpt (actually read the whole thing–every word is brilliant) and you’ll see why:

“There’s … something perversely, unexpectedly hopeful about skin care in today’s political context. Traditionally, skin care represents an attempt to deny the inevitability of the future. For me, right now, it functions as part of a basic dream in which the future simply exists. I recently wrote about the embattled millennial generation, whose members overwhelmingly do not believe that we will receive the Social Security benefits that we are paying for, and for whom conversations about having children commonly invoke fears of climate destruction and violent nationalism and nuclear war. I wonder if women my age are less afraid of looking older than we are of the possibility that there will be no functional world to look old in. Sontag wrote, about anti-aging, “The collapse of the project is only a matter of time.” At the moment, that thought applies much more broadly.

The idea of beauty as a site of resistance rather than capitulation is often traced back to Audre Lorde, who, in 1988, wrote, “Caring for myself is not an act of self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” The context for these words is Lorde’s fight against liver cancer as well as the intersectional politics that she theorized as a black lesbian feminist. But her thought, in a much diluted iteration, has led to the popular idea of “self-care,” in which there is moral and political utility in relaxing with your sheet mask. [bolding added]

This is the core query surrounding makeup and skin care for someone like me: is spending a pretty substantial amount of money on products to look better really any kind of way to resist the current political hellscape of predatory capitalism and its handmaidens of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, and assault on non-billionaires?  Is this form of self care any way to empower oneself and others?

Tolentino quotes writer Arabelle Sicardi: “I think a lot about beauty as propaganda for a success story…We want to be able to not have our suffering visible.”  By looking fresh and glowy in this time of existential despair, am I actually engaging in a form of dishonesty about its impact on me, and on others?

But Sicardi goes on, in Tolentino’s piece: Beauty is a tool that tends to serve those in power, she suggests, and, at the same time, “it fundamentally involves acts of witnessing the body, helping it to endure its conditions.”

Read that again:  “Beauty is a tool that tends to serve those in power…and at the same time, it fundamentally involves acts of witnessing the body, helping it to endure its conditions”

What I have found, for myself  — and I emphatically make no claims with regard to anyone else —  is that attending to my body through dance, clothes, skin care, and makeup has allowed me to better endure what would otherwise be debilitating political conditions.

For me, right now, it functions as part of a basic dream in which the future simply exists.”

This did not happen all at once, and it started earlier than 2017. I began doing skin care intensively in 2014, as a result of growing numbers of invitations to speak on campuses and conferences nationally and internationally. There would always be a photo, and I did not like what I was seeing.

This coincided with my friend Adeline Koh starting her Sabbatical Beauty skincare business.  Already familiar with excellent East Asian skin care regimes from my many years in Japan, I thought, I will kill two birds with one stone: get the kinds of products I know and trust, while supporting the new business venture of a fellow former academic.

I present to you the results, in selfies:








Guys.  Look at my skin. I don’t think it’s amiss to say that it seems to be aging backward.

How many people can say that they look better at 53 than the did at 49 (without any surgical interventions!)?  This is entirely the result of a Sabbatical Beauty regimen faithfully applied twice a day for three years.

[[By the way: please see below for the  list of products I use, if you are curious. And, Adeline Koh is kindly offering 10% off your first order, as a Professor Is In reader, if you visit the site through the link on this page. Disclosure: i will get some reward points if you make any purchases. That is not, however, why I wrote this post!  I wrote it to tell a skin care and politics story, inspired by Jia Tolentino’s essay. But in telling this story, I want to support a fellow feminist entrepreneur by directing readers to her business. Incidentally, because there are a lot of SB products to choose from, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, you might want to consider also joining her incredibly active and supportive SB Facebook Page to learn more and engage with her highly diverse group of intersectional feminist and academic followers.]]

My skin transformation is also the result of serious study of makeup that began in 2015 (the inspiration for this #MakeupMonday series) which I’ve found helps minimize some of the issues that are beyond the reach of skin care, lol.

And Full Disclosure: It’s also the result of dancing 4 days a week with a group of spectacular women who love and support one another–which is huge for my physical and emotional well-being, and is, I’m sure, reflected in my skin!  And of course: doing work that engages me and feeds my spirit and feels deeply meaningful through The Professor Is In–these things matter also!

But back to this post: why do I share this story and these selfies now?

Because, as Jia Tolentino says, a “beauty project” like this — especially since the cataclysm of the 2016 election — has been about “enduring the conditions” of my current despair.  I have been cast into a frightening level of despondency in the face of assaults on our core democratic institutions, and more personally on women, LGBTQ people, Jews, immigrants, and people of color – which all impact my immediate family.

“There’s something perversely, unexpectedly hopeful about skin care…”

As I explained when I launched #MakeupMonday, dealing in the aesthetic pleasures of color, shimmer, and glow, and the tactile pleasures of serums, and scrubs, and creams, and the slowing-down pleasures of masks, experimentation, and- yes- reading product reviews on Sephora, Ulta, beauty blogs, and indie beauty businesses, has absolutely, 100%, without question, helped me to combat post-election depression.  It has somehow, in some alchemy I can’t explain, helped me to be more bold, more fearless, and more simply delighted to be in the public eye, speaking out against growing racism and authoritarianism.

It is somehow, in a way I can’t explain, related to my determination to stand on a traffic island weekly with a core group of fellow protestors, and protest the Trump administration, in a series of bold lipcolors.

It is related to my desire to be VISIBLE, on terms that I like.

It is even related…in ways I’m still contemplating deeply… in my impulse to launch the Sexual Harassment in the Academy survey.

Is there irony that skin care and makeup would inspire work exposing sexual harassment?  Yes, I’d say so.

Is it strange?  Yes.

Does it seem frivolous that the unprecedented teal color I chose for my manicure with my daughter yesterday would somehow directly result from the Sexual Harassment in the Academy survey and indicate, for me: Fuck the Patriarchy?*


But that doesn’t mean these things are not true.  I look in the mirror every day, and I like what I see. My spirits lift, and I am energized to do more.

Yes, this is participation in consumerism. Yes it’s entirely absorbed in capitalist logic. Yes this is a capitulation to a neoliberal ethos of individual self-care.  And… it is also a pleasure, a joy, a field of accomplishment, a source of connection with my daughter and other women, a means of supporting women entrepreneurs, and most of all, a catalyst to greater protest, greater resistance, greater activism and greater public visibility in the service of the causes I believe in.

Tolentino writes:  “it’s up to us to reframe beauty as the means to something, rather than, as the market would have it, an end in itself.”

So, I will keep on with my creams and masks.  And in conclusion: what I wish for all of you is that you find the things that feed, inspire and energize you, and hang on to them for dear life… because we’ve never needed them more.


*Miyako asked: “Uh oh. Is my ballet pink a capitulation to the patriarchy??”


Sabbatical Beauty products that I use daily, as part of the multi-step regimen that is standard in East Asian skin care, as I learned it in Japan:

  • Goat Milk and Rice Cleanser (day and night)
  • Dorian Gray Anti-Aging Serum (day)
  • Asian Powerhouse Serum (day)
  • Marine Serum (day)
  • Camel Milk Moisturizing Cream (day)
  • Sleeping Beauty Oil (night)
  • Sake and Rice Sleeping Mask (night)
  • Sake Kasu Mask (bi-weekly)

I use two other products daily to target my formerly chronically puffy, saggy under-eye area which I get super-cheap at TJ Maxx (I’m allergic to the Sabbatical Beauty undereye oil and to almost all other eye products, so these two are the outcome of long and dedicated searching):

An exfoliating cleanser that I use every few days to brighten and clarify my skin:

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub

Plus under-eye masks as needed to deal with seasonal allergies, sleep deprivation, etc. etc.  I’ve tried many and these are the best:

SpaLife Anti-Aging Under Eye Treatment (Diamond)


*My regular intro:

Welcome to #MakeupMonday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:




How Karen Helped Me Land My Dream Job [A Very Nice Guest Post]

Note from Karen:  I am traveling this week on a family matter so will post about the Wall Street Journal coverage of the #MeTooPhD Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey next week. Today I’m pleased to share this generous guest post by Professor Siobhan Brooks.

Professor Brooks has been in touch with me a few times over the last few years to share her experiences on the job market. After hearing of her success, I asked her if she’d be willing to contribute a guest post for the benefit of others. I didn’t expect that she’d write something so complimentary of The Professor Is In! I’m a little embarrassed but very appreciative!  And, I absolutely love her story as a black, queer, former exotic dancer insisting on doing academia her own way–and prevailing.  Congratulations, Siobhan! You are an inspiration.


By Siobhan Brooks, Ph.D.

Professor Brooks is Chair of African American Studies, Cal State Fullerton


I graduated with a Ph.D. in sociology from the New School in 2008. Anyone who is familiar with the New School knows that it is one of the most difficult grad programs to get out of. The joke was that it is the roach motel of grad programs. Unlike other grad programs, the New School admits students often with no funding, in addition to students working while finishing their dissertations, there is very little mentorship—many leave for other programs or academia altogether. The few who received mentoring were the white boys who were part of the secret club involving white male professors connecting them with publishing opportunities, external funding, and job networks. The rest of us were left to fend for ourselves.

I was also in a unique situation when I started graduated school: I had just quit my five year job as an exotic dancer, and felt out of the academic loop since I graduated from college at age 23. However, I did have some things going for me: I was a union organizer at the club and published articles about the experiences of sex workers, especially of color, and labor conditions. My work was published in academic anthologies, Colorlines Magazine, and I interviewed Angela Davis for the UC Hastings Law Journal. I used this experience to apply for grad school and continue this line of study.

While in grad school I taught in various CUNY colleges after my master’s until I received a dissertation fellowship at UC Santa Barbara; that for the first time in five years would allow me to focus on my writing. I was able to finish my dissertation after two years and was encouraged by professors at UC Santa Barbara to submit my dissertation to a First Book Award in Queer Studies competition by SUNY Press. My dissertation was about the ways Black and Latina exotic dancers experienced racism in both lesbian and straight strip clubs. Sex work was still an edgy topic to research, and I was told by some professors to change my topic because I would never be taken seriously in academia.

I am glad I didn’t listen to them because to my surprise I had won the competition, which consisted of $3000 and a book contract from SUNY. I was elated—but in academia, happiness does not last long.

I was starting a post-doc when the book was accepted, went on the market, and got a tenure track job that I declined (middle of nowhere Pennsylvania). I was a visiting professor in a gender studies program at an R1 when the book came out in print. A time that was supposed to be joyous quickly came to an end when mentors expressed anger that I published before landing a tenure-tract position. “You’re wasting the publication!” “You’ve published too early—it won’t count for tenure now!”

I had thought about what it would mean to publish a book before I landed a tenure-track job, but I wasn’t going to reject the prize. After months of anxiety, and a few failed job searches, I came across Karen’s website. I paid close attention to how to form a cover letter and learned how to discuss my research in relation to the contributions it makes to the fields sociology, gender studies/ethnic studies. I also found the information on how to give the job talk to be viable information, especially coming from a program where students were not taught to do job talks and did not see job talks in the department. I learned to use visuals, structure it like an article, minus the jargon, and keep teaching demonstrations simple.

But I still needed advise on one last thing: How to handle having a book before a tenure track job. I decided to take a risk and email Karen directly. I explained my situation, and was pleased when I saw that she responded. She stated that while the book would not help me get tenure, it would help me land a tenure track job. She advised me on how to talk about my book in the cover letter and lead into a second project, the one I would be working on at the tenure-track job. I took her advice, and restructured my letter with a focus on a second project. I used my visiting professorship position like a post-doc and got two publications underway.

I saw a job in my home state that fit what I wanted perfectly: it was a teaching position at a state university in African American Studies. The department was restructuring, so it was an opportunity to build a department. I applied and after the campus visit was notified that I had job.

It worked out wonderfully because tenure was based on articles not books, and the articles I were working on came out during my first two years on the tenure-clock. Our department was small (three people) and no one was tenured. I am happy to say that our department went up early for tenure in the fourth year and we all received it! I am also department chair. I can’t thank Karen enough for her advice—it has literally paid off.