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

#MakeupMonday: How Can You Code Switch Your Face? Managing Hyperpigmentation in the “Natural” Sciences

I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career. Today’s post is by Dr. Bala Chaudhary


Dr. Bala Chaudhary is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies at DePaul University. Her research examines plant-soil-microbe interactions using a combination of experimental, macroecological, and data synthesis approaches to study multi-scale questions in microbial community ecology. Follow @balachaudhary




Confession: I am ecologist and a daily makeup wearer.

This largely stems from the fact that, as a woman of color with hyperpigmentation (HP), I feel more comfortable and confident wearing makeup to even my skin tone. I also have become tired of hearing comments like:

“Are you ok? You look tired!” or

“Jeez you don’t look so good!” or

“Why do you paint those dark spots on your face?” (My personal favorite)

These are all comments, by the way, from fellow ecologists that would likely claim that makeup is a waste of time and money, a tool of the patriarchy, and that no woman that wears makeup could be taken seriously in ecology. The current president of the Ecological Society of America recently shared via twitter a story of a faculty search where a woman in, “somewhat formal dress suit and makeup, hair is nicely ‘done’…is scorned by faculty and grad students as too feminine, couldn’t possibly work in field.” This is a familiar story and I applaud leaders in our field for bringing such issues to light that may seem minor, but have real consequences with respect to jobs, salaries, and promotion.

Me at my wedding

One year later at grad school

To adapt to the cultural norms of ecology, I both consciously and unconsciously engage in a fair amount of code-switching, the act of changing the way you speak or act depending on the audience. I am a child of Indian immigrants and grew up in suburban Minnesota, so code-switching is second nature. Imagine cross-country ski races preceded by bhangra dance practice. As a result, in ecology grad school, code-switching was a cinch. I bought chaco sandals, hid my diamond wedding ring, and even attempted an embarrassing period of trying to grow dreadlocks. If code-switching sounds fake or disingenuous to you, I suggest using your excellent research skills to learn more about this very real sociolinguistic phenomenon and the reasons why people code-switch, because this is a make-up blog.

But, how can you code switch your face? My au naturale beauty regime is failing me as approach mid-life and I find myself spending more and more time investigating ways to apply makeup to make it look like I’m not wearing makeup. I’ve learned a few tips along the way that I’d like to share to hopefully save y’all some time and also help bring to light issues surrounding appearance norms in ecology. When I share my experiences of code-switching, makeup wearing, and beauty norms in ecology with white female and minority students, I see how strongly it resonates with them (some even visibly relax). I share these stories to encourage students in my lab to speak and act in a way that feels true to their identity instead of the perceived norms of our field.

Many women of color develop hyperpigmentation (HP) as a result of many different factors: age, genetics, sun exposure, acne, dryness, hormones, stress, etc. It’s totally normal! If you choose, a few extra beauty regime habits can help even out your skin tone and keep you looking fresh. There are two aspects to managing HP: prevention and coverage.

Prevention of HP requires understanding the cause of your HP. For me, it’s a lovely combination of sun, dryness, and hormones. Eczema patches leave behind dark spots. I also developed dark patches on my eyelids, around my nose and around my mouth during pregnancy. Note that this was NOT the same as melasma or the “mask of pregnancy”, a menacing phrase I always hated. Therefore, the prevention aspect of my HP involves sunscreen, excessive moisturizing, and waiting for my hormones to calm down post birth/nursing. Yay waiting! If you’d like to see a dermatologist about your HP, I’m just going to be frank here and suggest you find a WOC doctor. In my experience, if you can’t find a WOC doctor you’ll find just as good info on the internet. I would also consult a WOC dermatologist before any more intense medical skin treatments (e.g. peels) as, depending on your HP, patterning these can lead to raccoon eyes.

I use Origins Mega-Bright SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer on my face and neck and Mega-Bright Dark Circle Minimizer on my eyes since I have very dry fragile eye skin. I also use Cetaphil Cream on my body which locks in the moisture and helps your face. My dermatologist said I should be going through a tub a month! I don’t come anywhere near that but I try. Drinking water and sleeping with a humidifier helps too.

For coverage and to even our my skin tone, I use Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in tan. In the summer, when my skin is darker, I use the oil-free version which has a darker tone. To find the right skin tone match, I go to Sephora on a slow day, stalk a POC employee (are you listening Sephora HR!?), and ask them to help me find the right tinted moisturizer shade to provide HP coverage without making it look like I’m wearing heavy makeup. I put a nickel size amount on my palm and apply with a Multitasker complexion #45 brush. Since the goal is even skin tone, no other applicators works as well for me. Start with your darkest spots and blend throughout. Afterwards, it’s a bit dewey for my taste, so I dust with NARS Setting Powder using a Sephora #59 powder brush. I have learned from Karen the magic of setting spray and use NYX Matte Finish Fini Mat because you can get it at Target and it recently worked wonders after an overnight transatlantic flight! The final step for me is a long-wear lip color and I use Sephora cream lip stain, though the quest for a shade that looks like I’m not wearing anything continues.

I have no connections to any of the above products or businesses and would be curious to hear what has worked for other WOC in ecology or other WOC with HP!


A Personal Note From Karen

I want to offer a personal note. I’ve had an extraordinarily difficult year. My teenage son has struggled with mental health challenges that have required constant attention as well as constant travel, along with a profound reevaluation of my family system and my own history of mental illness. My 90 year old mother was in a serious car accident. Other family members have been dealing with major health issues. The stress of all this, and the continual travel (I was traveling 21 out of 31 days in October) have – along with the escalating grief, strain and fear of being a queer Jew with biracial children in the national nightmare of 2018 – damaged my mental health and immune system, and I’ve spent the year struggling with both almost continual illness (in the past two months, for example, I’ve had both Epstein-Barr and coxsackie virus), weekly migraines, low grade depression, and constant state of overwhelm. The travel and illness have kept me from the dancing that is my front-line mental health defense, which has exacerbated the struggle.

Some of you may have noticed a decline in my rate of blogging and social media activity, and disruption in my editing schedule. I want to acknowledge that. If you’ve had encountered any frustrations in engaging with The Professor Is In this year, please accept my apologies.

I decided to just share this openly, because I know how many of you are struggling as well (because you tell us)  and because I strongly believe in de-stigmatizing mental health struggles. Secrecy and shame are major elements of the toxicity of the academy. I am a real person and The Professor Is In is not a faceless corporation and after eight years of existence I feel like it is ok to say: sometimes this is really, really hard.

The fact that I can write this, however, is a good sign–it means I am able to see and articulate my circumstances, instead of just drowning in them. That means I’m coming back up. Writing this today, on the literal eve of the midterms, may be tempting fate, of course. But this time around we at least know the enemy and its strength, so whatever happens, it won’t be the sickening (literally sickening) shock of 2016.

Blogging is still challenging, however. Writing takes a level of focus that has been hard to muster.  It has been hard to stay focused on the conventions of the academic job search when so much that we’ve taken as “conventional” has evaporated or been exposed as a sham. At the same time, speaking directly to audiences, either at talks around the country or virtually online, has been much  more meaningful for me this year.

And so, right now, I am relying on webinars where I can talk through the topics and also respond to live questions. I’ve scheduled three webinars for the next three weeks. The first one is tomorrow. To make the webinars more useful to everyone, I give all registrants open access to the recordings afterward, whether or not you attend the live events. That schedule is below. Please use WEBZONE10 as a discount code for these, which provides 10% off.

And I also want to invite you, if you haven’t been coming already, to our weekly FB Live on Fridays at 11 AM EST, where Kellee and I talk through the stresses of staying active under the psychic assault of the present moment.

And my series of guest posts continues.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you all, in the comments, as to how you’re all doing. How has this past year been for you? Has it caused any reevaluation of your life? Your goals? Your relationship to academia? Please share.


Interview Intervention Webinar

In this 90-minute webinar Karen Kelsky shows you how to interview effectively for an academic job. She covers the major questions asked most often, and their unspoken agendas.  She discusses the most common errors made by candidates, and how to organize and deliver concise, content-rich, non-desperate responses.

She will provide templates for responses to basic questions about your dissertation/current research, publishing, teaching, and fit, and abundant examples of both bad and good answers from actual client interviews.

In addition, we confront illegal/inappropriate questions, micro-aggressions, and the all important issue of overcoming Imposter Syndrome, and communicating confidence through verbal and non-verbal modes. And she spares a few words for how to dress, the best shoes for cold weather, and ideas for briefcases!

The material applies to skype, phone, and conference interviews, and the campus visit (although note that we have a whole separate webinar and recording available that is devoted to the campus visit!)

This webinar covers the same content, and addresses the same questions, as the live Skype Interview Intervention service ($250); it is an immediately available and cost-effective way to learn what to expect and how to prepare for all forms of academic job interview. Some clients do the webinar as preparation for a live Skype Intervention, if there are slots available.

As always there will be plenty of time for Q and A at the end.

You have access to a recording of the event afterward.

Tuesday 11/6 at 6 PM EST

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


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!

Tuesday 11/13 at 6 PM EST

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

Job Talk Webinar

In this webinar we will delve into the challenges of the all-important job talk.

I will explain the role of the job talk in the campus visit (it’s the single most important element) , and what it is meant to show about you as a candidate (it’s not what you think).

Kellee and I together created this webinar because I edit hundreds of job talks a year at TPII, and she hears them in her live skype Campus Visit Interventions, and the first drafts we see are routinely truly awful. (And when we were faculty members, in truth, most job talks we heard from candidates were pretty bad.) This is not because your research is poor!  It’s because nobody has ever explained to you WHAT a job talk is supposed to accomplish and HOW a job talk is supposed to be organized.

We now understand that most candidates have no idea about the proper ethos and organization of the job talk. They don’t get the “point” of the job talk, what it’s meant to achieve, and then how to achieve that through specific substance and organization.

So I will explain the most common pitfalls of the job talk, which are legion, including:

Excessive lit review (this isn’t your comprehensive exam!)
Forgetting to explain the topic before the analysis
Imbalance of theory and data
Overambitious scope
No clear argument
Overwhelming, illegible powerpoint slides

And I provide a proven template for job talk structure that will ensure yours showcases your research, engages the audience, and establishes your scholarly profile AND collegiality.

Finally, I will discuss the treacherous Q and A after the talk–what kinds of questions to expect, how to handle the audience, and most importantly, how to handle challenging, critical, or inappropriate questions.

Includes 30 minutes of Q and A.

All participants get access to the recording of this webinar.

Tuesday 11/20 at  6 PM EST/23:00 GMT. 

Cost:   $50

Add to Cart


An Open Letter to the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware

I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.  Today’s post is by Dr. Arica L Coleman.

Dr. Coleman is the author of That the Blood Stay Pure, a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2014. Her essay “Mildred Loving: The Extraordinary Life of An Ordinary Woman” received the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Award for Independent Scholars Honorable Mention from the American Studies Association. She is a frequent contributor to Time Magazine, History News Network, and LA Progressive; and has also contributed articles to The Washington Post, and The Crisis Magazine. She recently completed her second manuscript titled “Long Stories Short: A Womanist Exploration of The Personal, The Political, and The Spiritual.” Follow @


Dear Former Colleagues:

I recently participated in a weekend writers retreat with renowned author Marita Golden. Marita graciously carved out time in an already packed schedule to celebrate the publication of my latest Time Magazine article and also recommended that everyone in the group purchase my award winning book That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia.

At the conclusion of the retreat I purchased Marita’s first book Migrations of the Heart and her most recent book The Wide Circumference of Love and asked her to autograph them. She signed the first book, “To Arica—a dynamo, a scholar, a wonderful writer.” In the second she wrote, “To Arica—Thank you for all the wisdom, ideas, and spirit you bring into the world through your writing.”

Marita’s words were “like cocoa butter on my heart,” to borrow from songwriter India.Arie. There is no balm more soothing to a heart—which has been shattered by years of academic hazing and the trauma of tenure denial–than to have this writer-scholar and elder black stateswoman join the chorus of affirmations confirming that the person I am and the work that I do, matters.

Yet, four years ago when I left the department at the conclusion of my terminal year, I indeed had my doubts. Those doubts were the consequence of what Carole Boyce Davies demonstrated in a recent article for Black Perspectives titled “The Persistence of Sexism in Africana Studies.” Davies argued. “While institutional racism . . .  is identified as being more prominent and therefore more recognizable, institutional sexism, its twin, remains largely overlooked in many institutions. Black women, often the recipients of these twinned social ills, are the most disadvantaged in these institutional practices.” In other words, most people fail to understand that Black women are equally challenged by sexism which is a daily reality they face even in Black institutions.

To demonstrate the prevalence of institutional sexism or rather to be more precise misogynoir, a term coined by queer black feminist scholar Moya Bailey which “describes the anti-black racist misogyny that black women experience,” Davies used her home institution Cornell University as a case study to demonstrate the “presumed incompetence” of black women who continue to be passed over for the leadership of Africana Studies despite being qualified and in some cases more qualified than their male counterparts. Hence, black women faculty are left to navigate a power structure comprised of departmental and college administrators hell bent on maintaining the status quo. As Davies aptly observed, “ the larger institutional arrangements solidify a decidedly racialized sexist pattern of leadership at both departmental and college levels, which reinforces institutional sexism [misogynoir] in which Black women are decidedly disadvantaged.”

Indeed. Dr. Carol E. Henderson, one of your own senior faculty also noted this disadvantage in her review of the highly acclaimed book Presumed Incompetent titled “A Politics of Color” stating, “advances in racial and gender equity at all levels in the academy have moved at a snail’s pace. Within administrative and faculty ranks, in particular, women of color find a lack of presence and parity with their peers at many of the major universities and colleges in this country.” Henderson concurred with the editors’ use of personal story stating, “storytelling as qualitative research is important to bridging the gap between those who have the privilege and power to speak within any given structure and those who hold subordinate roles within that same institution.”

My choice to speak my truth openly rather than anonymously is my contribution to bridging this power gap.

As you are well aware, the University of Delaware’s lack of diversity in general and of women faculty of color in particular has been well documented since the late 1970s with more recent examples here and here; and its campus reputation as one which is inhospitable towards black students and black faculty is well known. While the Africana Studies Department was a nourishing and supportive space for all students, it was the opposite for black female junior faculty as was documented in the department’s 2013 External Review Report completed the fall of my terminal year. That report took particular note of the problem of promotion and tenure of women faculty of color stating, “While there is never one factor that speaks to each individual’s tenure and promotion experience, we suggest that BAMS (formerly known as the Department of Black American Studies) and the College [of Arts and Sciences] pay acute attention to the mentoring of all junior faculty and particularly women. Mentoring is a key element in increasing the success of junior faculty women of color.”

Indeed. The double jeopardy of being black and female in a department steeped in a masculinist epistemic tradition which privileged the teaching/research of the department’s lone core black male junior faculty and a black male junior affiliate, marginalized the four black female junior faculty (2 core and 2 affiliate) who were not only left to navigate the tenure track as best we could but whose scholarship was devalued by the department.

As Henderson further stated: “aware of the informal, nebulous demands of promotion and tenure that favor the ‘good ol’ boy network’” in which “their [women of color] intellectual capacity and their scholarship are deemed wholly unacceptable, summarily questioned, and even dismissed by colleagues . . .  lead to disrespectful and even vitriolic behavior . . .that resolidifies the historical racial hierarchy of academic culture.”

I would only add that this behavior also resolidifies the historical gender hierarchy of academic culture.

Hence, it was no coincidence that the two aforementioned male colleagues were tenured—another black male who was denied tenure remains as contingent faculty and is now an Africana Studies affiliate–while 100% of  black women hired on the tenure track between the years 2005-2007 left the university untenured.

With respect to my own experience, Africana leadership demonstrated a blatant disregard for  my scholarship despite having exceeded the department’s tenure criteria with articles published in respected peer review journals such as Souls and the International Journal of Africana Studies; essays published and anthologized in volumes edited by distinguished scholars Manning Marable, Beverly Guy Sheftall and Johnnetta Betsch Cole; and a book in production at Indiana University Press. When the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences declared my scholarship “insufficient” senior faculty did not utter a word.

Consequently, I—the last black woman standing– was left to appeal my tenure case to the Provost without one single member of the department in attendance to support me. In fact, the department chair, who was appointed Vice Provost of Diversity the following spring, declined my request that she attend the appeal in an email. “You know I have other administrative duties to attend to,” she stated.

As Davies contended and I concur, the dirty little secret is that misogynoir is alive and well in black academia. Poet Audre Lorde stated, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Yet, rather than dismantle the house, some are using the tools to help renovate it.

In closing, celebrated author Alice Walker stated, “We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone.”  I am thankful for Marita Golden, the late Manning Marable, Beverly Guy Sheftall, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Howard Johnson (Africana Studies Professor Emeritus), and the countless others whose faith in me and support of my work has enabled me to witness the fruit of my labor while I am still alive and well to continue to do this work for the academy, for the nation, and for all of humanity.


Arica L Coleman



#MakeupMonday: Travel, More Travel, and Falsies

I have to apologize for the long pause in blogging. Things have been intense around here. My 17 year old son has been in a residential treatment program for mental and emotional struggles over the past year. I’m happy to say that he’s made incredible progress and is getting out earlier than expected. That is wonderful news, but it has meant that a bunch of traveling related to him (to his graduation, his college tour, and a promised graduation trip to Japan) has all been drastically condensed into a two month period that ALREADY had no fewer than five trips planned  – to Ohio State for a day of talks (with Kellee!), then on to Mizzou for another day of talks, then to Berkeley to see my daughter for Homecoming, to Hawai’ii for a Sexual Harassment in the Academy talk, and to San Jose and Denver for the AAA and AAR meetings, where I’m doing panels on ac and postac careers.

I really like my “Don’t even start with me” look

That does not include the emergency trip to Youngstown, Ohio to assist my 90 year old mother, who was in a serious car accident and ended up in the hospital there, or the detour to Pittsburgh to get her home and settled with in-home care (requiring the 11th hour cancellation of the Mizzou event – UGH. My mom is fine btw).

And that doesn’t include travel to Portland for a Thanksgiving family gathering there around a family member receiving medical treatment at OHSU.

All this to say, I’m basically living out of a suitcase in a state of constant fatigue. I’m writing this post, in fact, sitting in bed at midnight in a hotel in Amherst where my son and I spent the day touring U Mass Amherst, before leaving super-early tomorrow to drive to U Conn.

One positive: I’ve truly TRULY solidified my travel makeup kit, and now it runs like clockwork! I’ve got the best lighted travel mirror AND extra batteries. I’ve got ALL the brushes I need in miniature size. I’ve got my regular eyeshadow palette and eyelash primer and mascara and blush and primer and foundation and concealer and finishing powder and finishing spray all set in dedicated travel versions so I’m never caught without. The only thing missing are my contour products… And, I have made sure to find some moments of rest and rejuvenation amidst all this. It’s a necessity. And the ocean is my love.

But when I’m home, as you may imagine, I’m exhausted.

My blogging energy is depleted.  I know I promised (and started!) a series on the tenure process – but I can’t muster the focus to continue right now, and won’t do that vital and fraught topic *without* total focus! So, thank you for your patience.

Last Friday night all I could find the energy to do was a face mask, and then playing around with a new lipcolor sample I got from Sephora (which was AMAZING! Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in color 504 – wow I love this product  – it goes on so smooth and weightless and super pigmented!) and….


Yes, I finally succumbed. I just wanted to TRY. And since Miyako and I had enjoyed our usual multi-hour sojourn at the Emeryville Ulta during my visit to Berkeley, I came home with some basic, cheap, natural-looking ones (by false eyelashes standards) to try out. They are Eylure Naturals 15.

They looked sort of like this (couldn’t find a pic of the 15s):

Here are the pics.  Excuse the red, bloodshot eyes. That’s just how I look right now. And yes this is the Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro mentioned above. Not shown: Kellee standing nearby looking deeply nonplussed by the appearance of false eyelashes on my face.


Here’s a close-up.  Black and white helps the lashes stand out a bit more.

I actually really liked them. I got a really “natural” style and they honestly looked pretty legit, not weirdly conspicuous, and quite age and professional-realm appropriate.

But, they are just so f-ing hard!  I am really just not good at getting them on. And then I’m not good at getting them off. Even when I used the special tool!  And then I did NOT realize that you have to thoroughly clean and disinfect them to be able to reuse them! Which, I proved completely unable to do, even after about an hour of soaking, and gently rubbing, and picking at with tweezers, etc. etc. The gunk would not come off!

So…. the falsie life is probably not for me. Basically it made me INSTANTLY dissatisfied with my own lashes, while proving that I am incapable of really committing to doing false lashes. Yay.

But what is the makeup life if not constant experimentation?  And what I reject one week, I may enthusiastically endorse the next. So, we shall see. I am going to try one more time since this is obviously another technique requiring much practice.

If you have any thoughts or advice on false eyelashes, please do share!

I Must Become a Menace To My Enemies

I Must Become A Menace To My Enemies

June Jordan 1936-2002



June Millicent Jordan was a Caribbean-American poet, essayist, teacher, and activist.




I will no longer lightly walk behind
a one of you who fear me:
Be afraid.
I plan to give you reasons for your jumpy fits
and facial tics
I will not walk politely on the pavements anymore
and this is dedicated in particular
to those who hear my footsteps
or the insubstantial rattling of my grocery
then turn around
see me
and hurry on
away from this impressive terror I must be:
I plan to blossom bloody on an afternoon
surrounded by my comrades singing
terrible revenge in merciless
I have watched a blind man studying his face.
I have set the table in the evening and sat down
to eat the news.
I have gone to sleep.
There is no one to forgive me.
The dead do not give a damn.
I live like a lover
who drops her dime into the phone
just as the subway shakes into the station
wasting her message
canceling the question of her call:
fulminating or forgetful but late
and always after the fact that could save or
condemn me

I must become the action of my fate.

How many of my brothers and my sisters
will they kill
before I teach myself

Shall we pick a number?
South Africa for instance:
do we agree that more than ten thousand
in less than a year but that less than
five thousand slaughtered in more than six
months will

I must become a menace to my enemies.

And if I
if I ever let you slide
who should be extirpated from my universe
who should be cauterized from earth
(lawandorder jerkoffs of the first the
terrorist degree)
then let my body fail my soul
in its bedeviled lecheries

And if I
if I ever let love go
because the hatred and the whisperings
become a phantom dictate I o-
bey in lieu of impulse and realities
(the blossoming flamingos of my
wild mimosa trees)
then let love freeze me
I must become
I must become a menace to my enemies.


Copyright © 2017 by the June M. Jordan Literary Estate.

#MakeupMonday: #FuckKavanaugh

I am barely holding it together for obvious reasons. #FuckKavanaugh

So I am just going to share a thing I did this weekend that made me happy. #FuckKavanaugh

It involved a mask. #FuckKavanaugh

First I will share a little story.  Three years ago coming back from Europe we had a layover in Heathrow or somewhere, and I was desperately searching for a little gift to bring back for Miyako. She’s always been hard to buy for. I stumbled upon some fancy-looking face masks at about $15 a pop. Normally I’d never spend that on a face mask, but it was a gift. And since I wasn’t about to get my 16 year old (at the time) daughter a $15 European face mask and not get one for myself, I picked up two. #FuckKavanaugh

I came home, used it, and fell in love. It was astounding. My skin was transformed. But this was when I was just dipping my toe into the world of skin care, and I promptly forgot the name of the company and the whole experience.  #FuckKavanaugh

But in recent months I’ve been getting seriously back into masking. And that mask from years back started niggling at me. What was it? #FuckKavanaugh

And then, randomly, about two weeks ago, thanks to the creepy magic of the Internet, a mask popped up in front of my eyeballs online, and I thought…”wait… wait… is that… that mask???”  #FuckKavanaugh

And I clicked through, and lo, it was!  Before my eyes, at long last, was the StarSkin Close-Up Firming Bio Cellulose Face Mask #FuckKavanaugh

That was the brand:  StarSkin. And for whatever reason, you can’t find that brand just… around.  It’s at European airport Duty-Free shops, and at Barneys, and such-like fancy locales. #FuckKavanaugh

Normally I’d never buy something so… obscure. But because I had seen the results, I was ready to check it out and dig deeper.  With my newfound background in all things skincare, I went into the website and really spent some time. I read about the company and I looked at all the products. And I decided, since it was just about my birthday, to spring for a set of items. I got my old friend the Close-Up, and some eye masks.  And I also got StarSkin’s current signature product, the StarSkin Pro Micro-Filler Mask Pack ($35).  #FuckKavanaugh

And so, on Sunday, in the midst of my grief and rage and fury and despair, I used my new $35 mask. #FuckKavanaugh


And….  wow…. what can I say.  The results were just… wow.  My skin was glowing. And lifted.  And just… really… wow.  #FuckKavanaugh




Thanks to Facebook today I encountered this picture of myself from two years ago. If you want to see the difference that regular skin care can make, well, here it is. And this is even in the post-Trump apocalypse  #FuckKavanaugh


I am in no way urging you, my readers, to spend $35 on a face mask. I know that is not possible or responsible for many of you in our academic economy. #FuckKavanaugh

I will mention, though, that you can get the Close Up Firming Mask for $10 from the website.  And of course my home-away-from-home TJ Maxx continues to have endless effective K-Beauty masks for $5.99 for a box of 5. #FuckKavanaugh

I share this story just to say that sometimes a break is necessary. #FuckKavanaugh

For me, my breaks are skin care (and dancing with my dance community, and shopping for new bargain makeup products and then trying them out).  If there is something that gives you joy, please do it.


Beyond Angry – Guest Post by Dr. Terri Givens

By Dr. Terri Givens

Dr. Givens previously contributed a three-part series about leaving a Provost position to go post-ac.


George F. Will wrote several hit pieces about Anita Hill in his Newsweek columns in 1991-92. I responded to one in which he insinuated that she only got into Yale law school because of affirmative action. I had recently been admitted to grad school at UCLA and I was tired of people assuming that I had only gotten into Stanford and UCLA because of affirmative action. My angry letter was published in Newsweek and I have saved it to this day. But now, I am beyond angry. History seems to be repeating itself with old white men trying to put a man on the Supreme Court who is clearly mendacious, reactionary, and accused of sexual assault (talk about affirmative action…). Quotes from Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas keep coming to mind.

It has been quite a couple of weeks. Regardless of how you feel about Serena Williams’ behavior at the U.S. Open, she certainly didn’t deserve the response she got, particularly from white men, after the match. The characterizations of her behavior were out of control racist and sexist. I am tired of the way that black women are treated in this country and beyond. And speaking of the way that black women are treated, Meg Guilford’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post raised a whole host of issues about racism in academe, including a mention of my own experiences. As so many of us have said this week, we are exhausted. It just keeps piling on top of the usual micro and macro aggressions we deal with in every aspect of our lives.  And then a black man was shot in his own home by a white police officer. I felt the need to write this on Twitter this week:

I also wrote that we desperately need more women, particularly women of color, in leadership positions. That may sound strange from someone who just left an academic leadership position. But what we also need is support for those women who take on leadership positions, not just from other women, but from men. It’s past time for men to stand up and although I know that there are many who do, there are clearly not enough. It’s too easy for men to sit back and say “gee, that’s too bad that she has to go through that tough situation.” They need to speak up, do something, take action. I keep saying that it’s not women who need the leadership seminars and the trainings – it’s men who need to learn how to support and bring women into the leadership positions that would help both academe and the business world to at least start to move past these issues of sexism, misogyny and racism that we have been struggling with for so long. I had a couple of white male friends contact me directly, and they both agreed that it would be hard to change things in academe – they are doing what they can, but is it enough?

There are all kinds of bullying behavior (which includes men losing their cool) that go on in the worlds of business and academe, and generally, there is little price to be paid when a white male acts like a bully, or worse. One of the problems with the situation for academe was highlighted for me by a friend who was talking about a situation in which she had been proactive in trying to help someone, but in the end her efforts were scuttled by someone above her. I couldn’t help but remember a time when I was in a similar situation. I was trying to help retain a couple who were being recruited by another department. I had pulled every string I could, including getting the dean involved, when a particularly arrogant senior faculty member sent an email to one of the professors being recruited to ask if she would perform a service duty. When she politely refused, he sent her a scathing response, which she forwarded to me, and I forwarded to the department chair. This was the kind of behavior that she had previously complained about, and he had just handed her a prime reason to leave. Of course, there were no repercussions for the senior faculty member, he still has his cushy teaching load and endowed chair, while the department lost two promising junior faculty.

I’m not sure how we will get past this cultural/political moment. For those of us who lived through the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, it’s very painful to be reliving the situation (with some of the same players), despite the triumph of so many women in the election that followed. The sad truth is that the legacy of that moment is we still have Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is in danger, and many of the rulings related to civil rights and the environment could be history. The next few months will tell us if we can move forward as a country, or if we will fall further into discord. I know that I will continue to fight like hell to keep things moving forward. I will keep asking every ally we can get to help, if not for my sake, for the sake of the next generation. The last thing I want to see is my grandchildren having to go through yet another Supreme Court nomination hearing with such an unsuitable candidate.



#MakeupMonday: Ph.D. in Poise: Three Takeaways from Pageant Life

I’m delighted to present another in my ongoing series of guests posts contributed by black women and other women of color.  Please submit yours!  I welcome post drafts or ideas for posts for consideration; email me at I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer.  I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.
Today’s post is by Linh Anh Cat.
Linh Anh Cat is an ecologist starting her career in science policy, and an ABD at UC Irvine. She loves brunch, the beach, and serious board games. You can find her tweeting from @LinhAnhCat.

Me in áo dài during a three-point turn

Earlier this year, I decided compete in a pageant. The Miss Vietnam of Southern California (MVSC) scholarship pageant is held at the largest Têt (lunar new year’s) festival outside of Vietnam. MVSC isn’t a typical pageant: 1) it is culturally focused, 2) it’s totally free for participants (including professional make-up sponsors, which saves contestants several hundred dollars), and 3) it has a reputation for genuinely supportive pageant contestants. I think this stems from the pageant’s accessibility, which attracts high-achieving women from all walks of life.

I joined because I wanted to meet awesome women and to make new friends who I could relate to culturally.  I never had any Vietnamese-American friends growing up in Florida. Even now that I’m in California to earn my Ph.D., I study ecology, which doesn’t attract many Asian-Americans or other minority groups.

Competing in pageant is a crash course in modeling. Walking in heels is already challenging for me, so strutting across the stage without even glancing down raised the hazard level, compounded by the challenge of not tripping over my flowy áo dài (traditional Vietnamese dress). If that doesn’t sound challenging enough, once you reach the center of the stage you must effortlessly transition into a three-point turn, which is turning 360 degrees while striking three different poses.

According to the Labor Department, modeling and being a scientist are listed as “opposite” jobs with non-overlapping skill sets. Learning something totally different from my day-to-day researching was a really fun, refreshing change!

Here are three takeaways you can apply to academia from pageant life:

  1. Have a power pose.

On a daily basis I am guilty of slouching at my desk. When I’m giving a presentation, my natural tendency is to shift my weight back and forth nervously. I see it in other graduate students and professors as well. When someone has presence and poise you automatically take them more seriously and listen. They stand out.

During pageant practice I learned how to do a three-point turn, or a set of various poses you string together seamlessly at the end of your catwalk. I had to practice a ton with a mirror to get this to look totally effortless yet powerful. Having a confident pose that you feel comfortable standing in will make your presentations more impactful. I recommend recording yourself (video) for a few minutes while giving a presentation. Although it’s uncomfortable, observe the nervous ticks you do without even noticing. Then, practice standing in a comfortable, grounded pose. Try to maintain this pose while giving a presentation on your research. It’s hard.

At first it takes focus and practice, but the investment is worth it when you’re able to command a room at a conference or seminar. This is extra important for women in academia who face additional challenges getting their research taken seriously. Plus, having good posture while sitting translates to improved circulation and breathing, which will help you write a better grant proposal!


  1. Be able to skillfully answer questions on the fly.

There is a tendency for academics to prefer non-stressful time to think and generate a thoughtful answer. Unfortunately this is not the case when fielding questions after a research talk.

Secret: appearing comfortable (even if you’re really nervous inside!)

During pageant, contestants usually answer “fishbowl” questions randomly drawn from a jar. For the MVSC pageant, the Top 10 contestants got lucky red envelopes (usually they are filled with money for good luck during Têt) with random questions. Simple questions that are really hard to answer well. (My question: What can men learn from Vietnamese-American women?)

Though this is a “thinking-on-your-feet” skill, it is one that you can practice. With a friend, you can go through a list of common interview questions (or a list of questions you are terrified will come up after your research talk). At first it will be uncomfortable, but with some practice you will surprise yourself and come up with some great answers. These can be adjusted to answer similar questions. Practicing also gives you confidence in handling unexpected questions so you’ll be less nervous and stressed. Putting yourself in difficult and challenging situations for practice will help you shine when it actually counts!


  1. Compete against yourself, not others.

    2018 Miss Vietnam of SoCal Royal Court!

It’s obviously tempting to compare yourself to others when you are dancing, talking, and smiling your way up to the final rounds in pageant. However, I knew if I wanted be happy and get what I wanted out of my pageant experience (new friends), I couldn’t be comparing my body or my accomplishments against others. This is probably the hardest of the three takeaways to truly follow.

In academia, it is especially easy to compare to cohort members or other postdocs or early career PIs with all the ways to quantify your success (e.g., number of publications, H-index, number of grants received, fellowships/awards, etc.). I’ve found that I’ve learned and accomplished so much over the last few years of graduate school despite feeling no different on the surface. When I think about it that way. If you can’t give up the urge to quantitatively compare something, look at your CV now versus from a few years ago. I often fall for the illusion that success is easy for others, and forget they often had several failures I didn’t see, or had devote time to practice how to speak so powerfully.

Being crowned first princess

As a byproduct of following these three tips, I won 1st Princess (first runner-up) at MVSC! Now, I own not only a sparkly crown and sash, but I also own my confidence in a genuine way – not just at the “fake-it-til-you-make-it” level (though it was a good start). I hope these tips from pageant can help you feel like Miss Academia!


Banish These Words: Sexism and Binarism Edition – Guest Post by Maggie Levantovskaya

By Dr. Maggie Levantovskaya

Maggie Levantovskaya is one of our TPII editors, and a writer and adjunct professor based in the Bay Area.


Let’s talk about sexist language in job application materials. I read countless cover letters, teaching statements, syllabi, postdoc proposals and other docs in my role as editor at The Professor Is In and I continue to encounter terms and phrases that either fit into the category of sexist language or reinforce binary gender norms. First of all, this is something that I see in documents by clients in various fields, though as you can imagine, some fields are bigger offenders than others.

I also find sexist and binary phrasing articulated by clients at all stages in their careers and of different ages. Maybe there is a generational pattern (I haven’t gathered the data) but I see PhD candidates who are clearly spending a lot of time in the classroom writing in ways that I know can be avoided.

Clients who are coming from cultural or linguistic contexts where such attention to language is not important or even frowned upon, have an even bigger challenge to learn how to be mindful about the heteropatriarchy of English.

To this end, here is a very short list of phrases and observations that can get folx started in excising at least some of the more egregious examples of sexism and binarism in their job docs and beyond. I’m hoping that others can add to it and keep the conversation going.


Always shocked to see this one in 2018! We have the phrase “first-year student.”


This is going to be hard for some of you to believe, but it’s still out there. Academics are still writing sentences like “We explore the problems that continue to define man,” in their teaching philosophies. Eeeek!

“His or her”

That seems inclusive, right? Well, it’s better than just saying “his” (still happens!). But the phrase also promotes binary views of gender. We have the plurals they / their. Let’s keep working on normalizing that usage for gender neutrality.

“Members of the opposite sex”

I mean, what do I even say!

I also give feedback on syllabi and I constantly see that clients do not say anything about preferred gender pronouns under course policies and rarely mention asking students about their preferred pronouns in teaching philosophies. I realize that syllabi are impossibly long these days, but adding a line like “My preferred pronouns are she/her. Please let me know what yours are and correct me if I ever get them wrong,” is not going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

I’m a teacher myself and I put my preferred pronouns into my email signature to signal to students that pronoun usage is not obvious and that we should respect each other’s preferences in this matter.

Another issue that I regularly encounter in client cover letters and teaching philosophies has to do with how they discuss teaching gender norms in the classroom. A lot of our clients teach students to challenge norms and I think that that’s great. The problem is that some of the descriptions of these methods appear, well, problematic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read clients discuss teaching gender by saying something in the vein of “I get students to see that gender is a construct by dressing like a member of the opposite gender and then reflecting on the experience” or “my assignment asks students to interview an LGBTQ+ person.” Some clients say the same thing about homeless, immigrants and other groups.

Now, I don’t know what these clients are actually doing with their students and my job is not to critique their teaching. However, when I see this, I advise clients to avoid language that gamifies gender and sexuality or treats queer people instrumentally and hope that this resonates beyond job doc editing.

There are so many resources about this stuff online! Teen Vogue is telling us how to be gender neutral and many other publications have extremely accessible guides on how to make spaces less hostile for non-binary folx.

It’s 2018. Let’s do better!