Live Webinars Resume This Week!

Hello all, a quick note to alert you that Live Webinars are back, starting tomorrow, Thursday November 15!

All are $50, but use this promo code – WEBZONE10 – for 10% off.

Find them here on the Live Webinars page. And remember: all registrants get access to a recording even if you don’t attend the live event.

*Hacking the Academic Job Market (Thursday Nov. 15, 6 PM EST)

*Interview Intervention Webinar (Thursday Nov 21, 6 PM EST)

*The Campus Visit Webinar (Thursday Dec 5, 6 PM EST)

Descriptions below.:

Hacking the Academic Job Market

Thursday 11/15 6 PM EST

In this 90-minute webinar I walk you through the conditions of the current American job market, the most common mistakes made by job-seekers, and the ways you can maximize your chances of success while looking for a tenure-track job.
We’ll cover:

The big-picture conditions of the U.S. academic job market
How to think like a search committee
The four core qualities of a successful tenure track job candidate
The all-important 5-Year Plan
The ethos of job market documents
The most common mistakes made by job seekers
The three keys to academic interviewing
The non-academic option

We also examine the pervasive intangible pitfalls that can bedevil job documents and interviewing, including narcissism, excessive humility, and hyper-emotionalism. You’ll leave with a broad understanding of the real (as opposed to fantasy) criteria of tenure track hiring, and how to tailor your record and application materials to maximize your chances of success.

Includes time for Q and A with Dr. Karen. All who register get access to a free recording of the event.


Interview Intervention Webinar

Thursday 11/21 6 PM EST

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 works in tandem with the live Skype Interview Intervention service provided by Kel Weinhold ($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. Many 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.

All who register get access to a recording of the event.


Campus Visit Webinar

Thursday 12/5 at 6 PM EST

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. All who register get access to a recording of the event.

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

Remember: use this promo code – WEBZONE10 – for 10% off! Find the webinars here on the Live Webinars page. All registrants get access to a recording even if you don’t attend the live event.

Floored: Lessons from the Privilege Walk – WOC Guest Post

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 and can be about your experiences of racism/microaggressions in grad school or the career, your post-academic musings, hard-won advice for other students/faculty of color coming up, intersectional practices in teaching or research that you have found valuable, and also of course, makeup and clothes, or even tech gear you’ve found that helps in your work. More information can be found here.

Today’s post is by Dr. TaLisa J. Carter.

TaLisa J. Carter, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University. Her research broadly focuses on criminological theory, social institutions, race, social control. When she’s not earning tenure, she loves to people watch, dance and cross things off her many to-do lists.


Like every other first-year graduate student – I remember being tired yet determined. My mind was tired of trying to make sense of Foucault and Weber, but my tongue was determined to contribute substantively to class. My closet was tired of me picking its limited selection to attend departmental events, but I remained determined to build a professional network and look the part. My social meter was depleted, tired of trying to connect with a cohort at venues void of the bass, beats, rhythm, and soul that moved me. Yet, I remained determined to at least try to be their friend. That, however, died the day of the privilege walk. 

Mid-semester a student duo introduced the discussion-heavy graduate seminar to the privilege walk. The privilege walk was an activity meant to link privilege to justice, reflexivity, and a bunch of other lovely concepts strung together in what seemed like a harmless announcement. We rose, formed a frumpy horizontal line across the middle of the classroom.

And it began. 

  • If your ancestors were forced to come to the USA not by choice, take one step back. I stepped backward. 
  • If you had to rely primarily on public transportation, take one step back. I stepped backward. 
  • If you travelled outside of the country before you were 18 years old, take one step forward. I stood still. 
  • If your family ever had to move because they could not afford to pay the rent or
  • mortgage, please take one step back. I stepped backward. 
  • If your parents told you that you could be anything you wanted to be, take one step forward. I stepped forward. 
  • If you attended private school or summer camp, take one step forward. I stood still. 
  • If you were told that you were beautiful, smart, and capable by your parents, take one step forward. I stepped forward. 
  • If you were ever discouraged from academics or jobs because of race, class, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back. I stepped backward. 

The questioning continued, unrelenting, ignoring the thickness in the air, the reddening faces of my peers and the manifestation of my marginalization becoming more and more unmistakable. The privilege that my Ivy league undergraduate label afforded me for the first several months of graduate school was fading. Every step backwards I took – ripped it to pieces. A mixed-race peer with a sweet and brave spirit began to affirm me with her facial expressions and finally short sentences. But there was little to be done, the privilege walk continued. 

Another question. My back hit the chalkboard. 

Another question. Nowhere to step now. I turned around and faced the blackboard. Its blackness a welcome sight, relative to the uncomfortable backs of my privileged peers. 

Another question. Nowhere to turn now. I squatted. 

Another question. I’m tired but determined to share my truth. I sat on the floor. 

And even after sitting, I should have taken four steps further back. That fact screamed in my brain loudly as we found our seats in silence. I am so many steps behind that I shouldn’t even be in this room. Imposter syndrome wasn’t in my head, it was real, living, justified by the onslaught of questions that left me on the floor.

The duo led a debrief that was maddening. Students openly discussed how less visible marginalized identities (e.g. sexuality and religion) related to privilege, playing a carefully articulated game of verbal hopscotch to avoid issues related to race, ethnicity, and class. I stayed silent. Numb. Annoyed. After class, I recounted the story to my family and friends. One asked: “Why didn’t you just lie?”

Truth is…I’m proud of my truth. There is no reason to lie. I was led to this predominantly white space, discipline, department because of my lived experiences. I was not ashamed. I was not embarrassed. I was disappointed, angry, and hurt that the exercise was ultimately a waste of time, rather than an educational tool.  

My professor followed up, checked in, called, we met. And I shared my truth, my frustrations, my disappointment. I was a first-year, tired yet determined to relate why I chose to participate so openly in the exercise, how the debrief was beyond problematic and what I believed should be done to move forward in a healthy way. And the following week in class, she led us in a real debrief. A debrief that affirmed me in that space and provided room for a critical analysis of the exercise. The conversation led to tears from my peers, blunt statements about “not knowing what to do,” feeling bad, and extreme discomfort.  I didn’t know how I felt. But I learned lessons: 

  1. Being an imposter is only an issue when you buy into the negativity around it. From the floor onward, I’ve owned my differences in ways that empower me. Ultimately, you frame your identity in this space – not other people. 
  2. Making other people uncomfortable is MORE THAN OKAY. I didn’t share my truth to teach others nor to have a powerful moment with myself. I just told the truth. And the dominoes that fell as a result – not my problem. 
  3. Related, I believe that integrating exercises in the classroom that confront sensitive issues is a critical part of higher education. However, faculty and students must prepare properly, engage fully and debrief appropriately. Most importantly if something goes wrong, there must be a commitment to correct- even if that means reengaging with discomfort. To be clear, I would participate in another privilege exercise if 2 conditions were met: (1) I trusted the facilitator and (2) understood the intended learning outcomes for all involved. 
  4. Speak up. If something doesn’t feel right, say something. And it doesn’t have to be in the moment or cause a scene. Speak up in whatever way works for you.  
  5. Hard times suck, but they will show you your advocates, and the people you can lean on to thrive in this experience. When my professor checked in, I could’ve easily avoided the conversation, lied, and pressed on. But from that experience, I found a true mentor and advocate. 
  6. The purpose of cohorts is not friendship. Together you learn to be good colleagues, not good friends. The week between classes, most of my cohort avoided me like I had done something to them. In that isolation, I grew stronger. 
  7. Be you. You’re enough. 

To this day, sitting on the floor in that classroom was the best thing I could have done my first year. It shaped my perspective and approach to a process structured in ways without me in mind. The lessons learned were priceless. No regrets. Period. 


#MakeupMonday: Concussion and Contour Edition

I’m still recovering from the big accident I wrote about in the last #MakeupMonday post. My physical injuries are healing quickly, but my post-concussion symptoms have been slower. Weirdly enough, editing work has been uniformly fine from the first moment I came back to it, before I could even use my arm to type! Whatever part of my brain was impacted, that wasn’t it. I’ve really noticed it in my non-work life. Short term memory stuff. Inability to multi-task. Constant small mental slippage. And a general irritability even more than my usual – and that’s saying something! (Today I called it incandescent rage, so….)

If any of you have experienced concussion symptoms like this, let me know if you found any treatments that worked.

In the meantime, I’ve been incorporating some of the skills and products I had to acquire post-accident into my regular routine–mostly a new affection for concealers. They are still really hard to use, especially when the goal is NOT to be an IG beauty blogger but to walk among other flesh and blood humans in real physical time and space looking human.

But I’ve found three I love. First, the IT Bye-Bye UnderEye Anti-Aging Full Coverage Concealer that I blogged about last time – it really is one of those products that is so head and shoulders above the rest that it’s just a standard-setter. It’s heavy and you have to need that level of concealer, and also need to learn how to use it (hint: warm a microscopic amount between your fingers) but wow–it goes on so smoothly and blends to such an amazing natural but lasting sheen. Second, Pur Disappearing Ink 4-1 Face Concealer, which I bought on a whim having seen it highly recommended, and is now my favorite post-accident, medium coverage concealer. It is brightening, blends beautifully, and doesn’t crease. Last, I found Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Cream for $15 at Nordstrom Rack last week (go run and check it out–there are tons of high end current Becca, IT, MAC, and Urban Decay products there right now!) that is, like all Becca products, really awesome at looking light and dewy, although I’m not sure yet about its durability. I didn’t really need another concealer honestly, but I don’t pass up good Becca products when I find them cheap (and they had my exact shade in stock). BTW, I also scored the Becca Color Correcting Cream in Pistachio to deal with redness, and it’s far far above any other green color corrector I’ve used, including one by Smashbox and one by Dermablend.

So this morning I thought I’d share a quick contour session. I’ve wanted to do one for a really long time but I’m always rushing and late, and don’t take the time to snap those pics for a post! Today, I just did it, even though I didn’t really have time for lots of careful lighting, posing, and micro-steps. Today’s is far from my most careful and fastidious makeup application, but as one of my heroes says in advice she gives to young writers: “Do it badly, fast.”* So here goes.

First I did Glamglow Gravity Lifting Mask while drying my hair. It was dry and ready to peel off right when I finished drying and flatironing and styling my hair — love that!

I do my skincare, primer, color correctors, and foundation. As you’ll see in the pics below, I still have a very visible scar on my forehead, and stubborn purple shadows around my eyes that resist concealer coverage.

Then, I do the contour. I use one of my beloved 100% ride-or-die products, which I actually forgot to mention on my recent “Must-Have Products 2019” post: Kevin Aucoin Contour Book Volume 2 – an AMAZING deal (considering the number of items included) on cool-toned contour colors and highlighters for a ton of different effects.

I put it under my cheekbone, under my jawline, between my eyes and down the sides of my nose, and around the outer edge of my forehead and cheeks. I learned this method from watching Youtube MUAs (makeup artists), especially Wayne Goss.

Don’t be afraid! It’s ok to really draw it on, as long as you remember to BLEND. And folks: PLEASE, I beg you: you probably need cooler toned contour products, especially if you are a white person! I get that not everyone is as cool in undertone as I am, but please remember: shadows tend to be fundamentally blue-ish, not bronze! Too many companies and clerks push bronzers (which are always brown/gold/tan and often shimmery) in place of contour products which are typically matte and cooler. While all interested readers should use your A+ research skills to investigate advice and products for your own skin tone and undertone, please heed me when I tell you that if you’re trying to create the sense of a shadow, you probably need a cooler-toned palette than what you have around. And, they are hard to find. The Kevin Aucoin line does it very, very well – as befits the ultimate contour-king of makeup.

So, now I blend.

Now I add blush.

Oops, big unblended blotch! That happens a lot when I put on blush.

I quickly fix that.

I add some concealer and highlighter. I have a highlighter post coming soon because my daughter introduced me to a new product line that we are both now obsessed with!

Then I finish up everything else. I feel like too much contour came off in the course of blending everything, so I add back a bit between my eyes and on my nose. Here it is unblended.

And then blended, and everything done, including my new beloved lipcolor, which I’ve blogged about before: Lipstick Queen RearView Mirror in Drive My Mauve. Don’t be put off by the goofy packaging of this product: it performs! It goes on glossy but then settles into what I can only call a lipstain that stays and stays

I am ok with leaving some shadows under my eyes right now, because I don’t want to slather on even more concealer (beyond what I am already using above) to erase them. But I have to say, I am ready to be done with these post-accident challenges.

*Prof. Jessica Hammer, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, in “The Portable Hammer.”

Academic PTSD – WOC Guest Post

[Posting has been a bit delayed as I’ve recovered from my accident. I will be posting on an accelerated schedule to try and get caught up!]

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 and can be about your experiences of racism/microaggressions in grad school or the career, your post-academic musings, hard-won advice for other students/faculty of color coming up, intersectional practices in teaching or research that you have found valuable, and also of course, makeup and clothes, or even tech gear you’ve found that helps in your work. More information can be found here.

Today’s post is by Dr. Rita Shah. Dr. Shah is an Assistant Professor of Criminology at Eastern Michigan University. Her research combines textual analysis with qualitative and visual methods to understand the ways in which correctional systems are socially and legally constructed. Her first book, The Meaning of Rehabilitation and its Impact on Parole: There and Back Again in California (2017), queries the concept of rehabilitation to determine how, on a legislative and policy level, the term is defined as a goal of correctional systems.


As I wrap up the Winter 2019 semester, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my first two years at my new(ish) institution. In particular, I’m thinking about the link between workplace bullying and PTSD and the particular ways that might play out in academia (or, as one scholar put it, Posttraumatic Scholar’s Disorder). While we talk a lot about the toxicity of academia, especially for faculty with marginalized identities, we don’t really talk about how that toxicity follows us, even if we’ve managed to escape it. I know of only two pieces that explore this topic: Professor Naima Lowe’s piece on how standing up for students led to doxing and PTSD and Dr. Liz Wayne’s Twitter thread on the trauma of academia and its long-term impacts. I wish we did talk about it more, though; maybe then I would have been better prepared for my first year in my current position and the anxiety I feel now.

Because it took a whole year for me to realize the space I’m in now is not the toxic environment I left. It took a whole year to stop wondering when the next microaggression or back-handed compliment or undermining comment will come.

Or at least, it took a whole year for those worries to not be a concern every single day. I don’t know if I’ll ever get past it completely. Which means I don’t know if I’ll ever fully be at my best, because I’ll always be second guessing myself and every single interaction with my colleagues—something that is now engrained in me because of the toxicity of my first academic position.

There were many things I loved about that job. But for years, the institutional racism slowly wore me down. It slowly crushed my soul. It slowly led me to question my worth. Because every day was a battle of deflecting micro- and macro-aggressions that undermined my abilities, my expertise, my efforts, and my experience.

Critiquing how we as faculty responded to racist incidents on campus led to an email from a senior white male colleague who was hurt I did not support him, claimed it meant he could no longer trust me, and attempted to silence any further criticism. Raising a question about how data was being presented in an undergraduate honor’s thesis defense led to a faculty member questioning my academic credentials in front of other department-mates and several students. Discussing structural racism in the criminal justice system led to student evaluations that said I discussed race too much and feedback from department colleagues that I wasn’t supportive of differing views.

At my pre-tenure review, I was told I need at least one more publication for tenure even though I had a single authored publication in a top-ranking journal and knew that had been enough for others at the institution to earn tenure. At my tenure evaluation, I was critiqued for not being culturally inclusive even though I was the only faculty of color in the department and often the only person of color in the classroom. (And these are just the micro/macro-aggressions I have space to include in this piece.)

After years of feeling like I had to justify my very existence (and earning tenure in spite of it all), I left for another position. But I carry the baggage with me. 

Every time my name is raised, I wait for the backhanded compliment. Every time someone says something kind about me, I wait for the undermining comment to follow. I even took my new department’s evaluation of my pre-tenure review dossier to my union president because I had a hard time accepting there weren’t any hidden digs. There weren’t, but I simply didn’t believe the positive and highly-ranked review was real.

And as I enter my third year at my current institution, all of that anxiety is coming back. Because it was in my third year at my last position the microaggressions became more consistent. It was in my third year the macroaggressions became apparent. It was in my third year I realized I didn’t belong.

While I am mostly confident I belong at my current institution, the trauma of years 3-6 at my last one still linger. As I (hopefully) move past tenure, I can’t help wondering if life will repeat itself. I can’t help wondering if life is already repeating itself, but it’s a more subtle form so I’m missing it.

I know I’m not the only person to deal with the toxicity of academia. Nor am I the only one who has left, either to a new position or to a position outside of academia altogether, to get away from it. Nor am I the only one navigating the long-term impacts of the toxicity.

But I do have a lot of questions about it. Questions that, if answered, might help all of us navigate it better. 

Questions like: What are the long-term impacts of this toxicity? What is the impact of constantly tensing up, or feeling anxious or scared every time we’re in a meeting or our name comes up? How much productivity is lost because we are always on the lookout? What decisions are made (or not), actions taken (or not) and relationships forged (or not) because “[we] are not experiencing the same reality that [others] are”?

And, perhaps more importantly, who is most impacted by Posttraumatic Scholar’s Disorder? And how does that long-term impact of academic toxicity and trauma continue to limit academia’s ability to be an equitable and inclusive space?

I don’t have any answers. And I’m sure there are others who have done much more work on this topic than I who can speak on it with more clarity. But I really wish we talked about it more, if for no other reason than to put a name to a problem so many of us deal with.

On Being a Woman of Color and an Immigrant in Academia – WOC Guest Post

I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color. [It is a company mission of TPII to support black women in the academy, and if you are a black woman in need of career help, please get in touch. We can work with you to make it available].

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 and can be about your experiences of racism/microaggressions in grad school or the career, your post-academic musings, hard-won advice for other students/faculty of color coming up, intersectional practices in teaching or research that you have found valuable, and also of course, makeup and clothes, or even tech gear you’ve found that helps in your work. More information can be found here.

Today’s author prefers to remain anonymous. Her bio: the contributor is a female scholar, a person of color, and a native of a South American country. She came to the USA to earn her doctoral degree at a large public university in the Northeast. After finishing her doctoral degree in a social science field, she is now starting a new job as a faculty member at a liberal arts institution.


As my peers are preparing for the beginning of classes in two weeks, I was wasting yet another day on visa and immigration matters. This time it wasn’t about forms, but about calls, emails, and meetings that I needed to make, write, and hold to explain my new employers why I wasn’t yet able to complete the hiring paperwork and officially start my new job as an assistant professor. I should have been prepping for my courses, finishing the last touches on my syllabus, and submitting another paper for publication. I desperately needed to be productive before the academic year starts. But no, academia was finding another subtle way of telling me that I don’t belong here.

I wished so much that my main concern was to balance my time between teaching and researching, like most of my fellow junior faculty. I wanted my worries to be about how to better model some statistical relationship, or how to frame this paper that I’m struggling to write, or how to promote my work in social media. But my main concern was to be able to officially start a job that I was offered based on my own merit. The fact that I was selected from a pool of hundreds of admirable applicants, wasn’t enough accomplishment. Accepting this job offer didn’t really allowed to start my academic position as a junior faculty. I wasn’t authorized to run this new race that I so much desired to run. It felt like the academic job market wasn’t over. If my working permit wasn’t approved, I could lose this opportunity at my dreamed job.

The ways in which the system works against underrepresented minorities are countless. Particularly in academia, you can find several eye-opening analyses that report how implicit bias holds women back here and here. Most of the time we think that the system denies them jobs and wages that they deserve, or that it prevents them from competing for promotions and tenure on an equal footing. And it does. Fewer times, however, we think about when the system denies them the opportunities to participate in the contest in the first place, even when they won a ticket to it. To my identity as a woman of color, I realized, I needed to add the layer of migrant.

I fulfilled a cherished professional aspiration when I earned my first academic appointment at a liberal arts institution. Two years ago, I had started applying for dozens of academic jobs, while finishing my doctoral dissertation. In addition to the fears of being unable to persuade my committee that I was ready to become a doctor, I dreaded that if I didn’t find a job, I was going to be kicked out of the country. I faced this type of existential anxiety almost every day. Specially during the hard moments in grad school, but also during the easy ones. My life in academia could end up at any moment, no matter how well I performed. Someday, authorities will come out in the clear and finally declare out loud and shamelessly that immigrants were not welcome here. I didn’t need to wait too long for that day, though; republican supporters are already chanting “send her back” at Trump rallies.

The racist chant made me relive a recent trauma. It reminded of that time earlier this year when a CBP agent jokingly yelled at me and my partner “Don’t let them in!” when approaching us in the immigration checkpoint in the airport. Good morning, sir. I wish I had the courage to tell you it’s not funny to play with the lives and hopes of immigrants. Your joke is not amusing, it’s cruel. Instead, I followed his lead and smiled nervously. Then, I proceeded to answer every intrusive question they asked about my personal life, why did I travel to that international conference, why did I attend that family meeting, how much money was I bringing with me, etc. In spite of the humiliation, I answered with a submissiveness unknown to me. Or at least it felt to me like that. I thought I was showing respectful obedience. As my partner reveled to me later, I was not. I was bold and confident, may be even too brave. You can’t piss off the boss, he told me. But, listen, I cannot let them get away with disrespectful treatment of immigrants! If they abuse me like this, an educated immigrant, fluent in English, living for years in the USA, wouldn’t they feel entitled to insult those whom they see as more vulnerable? I have a responsibility. Long story short, they finally let me go after I spent the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life in a little room that smelled of despair. I cannot begin to fathom what the migrants are suffering in detention centers at the southern border.

Back to my current situation. I should have completed the hiring paperwork two weeks ago. My working permit was recently approved after a high-ranked government official made inquiries to USCIS on my behalf. But the employment card is taking forever to be shipped to my address. I have spent countless hours and dollars in immigration paperwork already. Not including the number of visas that I had to pay for over the years, I’ve spent well over six hundred dollars in migration-related matters only this summer. I’m broke. Not just because of the already expensive out-of-state moving ordeal but also because of the more than 5 years I lived on a graduate student stipend. That takes a heavy toll, folks. I won’t even touch on the subjects of expensive conference fees and late reimbursement policies.

The consequences extend far beyond the economic realm. Anxiety kicked in because of the unavoidable waste of time on immigration matters, and because my obsession with making my working days the most efficient and productive (fixation I probably share with many folks in academia) could not come to terms with this additional complication. But, most importantly, I was afraid that I was losing opportunities to get to know my colleagues and staff, and to gain an early grasp of the responsibilities of my new position by attending faculty meetings, getting settled in my office, and taking part in new faculty trainings. All those activities would help me perform better at my duties and would be crucial to let the feeling of belonging sink in. How could I truly be a “newly appointed faculty member” if I could not even occupy my new office? Was there a better way to exacerbate my feelings of inadequacy?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the skills that I developed in jumping all these obstacles throughout my life. But I refuse to get used to them. And no one should either. 

#MakeupMonday: Trauma Edition

So, I suffered a fashion injury.

Walking out of Erev Rosh Hashanah services in a torrential downpour in the dark, my rain-soaked (adorable! fuscia!) suede high heeled shoe caught in the rain-soaked fabric of my (super-cute! wide-legged!) jumpsuit (not THE jumpsuit of prior posts, but another one), and got stuck, and I pitched forward, bouncing twice on my forehead and slamming my right arm and left knee into the pavement. It was absolutely ghastly, and terrifying to be lying in the parking lot dazed, stunned, and dripping blood onto the ground in the dark storm.

I ended up in the ER with a broken right elbow, two gashes in my forehead, a banged up knee, and some level of mild concussion. My blood pressure dropped to 75/25, which certainly got their attention…. And they were worried about a possible broken neck and got me into a brace asap.

Everyone at the ER (nurses and doctor both) were super impressed with my lipstick, though, which stayed on like a champ through the whole ordeal! Shoutout to Lipstick Queen Rear View Mirror Lip Lacquer in Drive My Mauve. I had Kel take the photo below just for today’s anticipated blog post, much to everyone’s bemusement. (My hairdresser’s FB comment to the below picture: “your hair looks great!”)

The ER doctor and I chatted about her nails, which had an amazing multicolor geometric design. “Aren’t they great?” she said, pausing in her palpations to gaze at them lovingly. “Where do you get them done??” I ask. “Oh, my friend Laura does them for me,” she replied, and we all laughed.

That was one week ago, and I’ve bounced back amazingly fast. I don’t even need a regular cast for my arm, after the ER splint got removed three days after the incident. I’m a little dizzy and various parts still hurt, but overall doing very well.

I count myself very lucky indeed. Very, very lucky. We know more than one person who had a similar fall and ended up permanently impaired. I’ve been able to come back to work, first working with voice recognition software, and now getting back to typing. I am taking it slow, but each day is better than the one before. I drove the car for the first time yesterday!

Anyway, the nature of forehead injuries is that, because of gravity, the bruising travels downward to your eyes and then under them to your cheeks. I ended up with two huge swollen, purple shiners and bruising that sunk an inch below that and is obstinately still there (yuck).

About 4 days in, bored with lying about, and sick of my purple face, I decided to experiment with makeup to see what I could do. This was purely for entertainment’s sake, since I didn’t have anywhere to go. I just wanted to see what my products would do if put to a very difficult test. And I was thinking ahead to the next #MakeupMonday of course!

Here are the results.

I begin, right arm in cast and sling, just trying to get set up at my makeup desk, fumbling my phone every which way. Everything had to be done left-handed!

Finally I get a system.

Here is where I started. Believe it or not, this was far from the worst day for bruising and swelling. It actually got so so so much worse. Kel said I looked like one of those blue people from Avatar–100% correct.

I apply my skin care and primer and beloved Becca Undereye Corrector.

I apply my concealers. I immediately discover that the dewy, lightweight concealers I exclusively use are 100% NOT up to the task.

(By the way, I couldn’t put any real makeup products on the liquid stitches on my forehead, just to make sure they didn’t dissolve. So those stayed mostly untouched for this exercise.)

I move on to foundation: I used a sample I had lying about of Jouer Essential High Coverage (full coverage) foundation, which was horrendous and pilled up all over my face.

Do not buy this product.

I try and fix it with my Lancome Teint Idole, which is the heaviest foundation I have (still only medium coverage tho, compared to my BareMinerals Complexion Rescue, and my Nars SheerGlow). The Teint Idole corrected the texture (because it is magic), but I ended up a weird pale color which was disturbing but couldn’t be corrected, as I had severely limited energy to devote to this experiment.

I do my eyes – coincidentally my regular plum shadow palette exactly matches my bruises! I incorporate the bruising into the shadow technique for a dramatic smoky eye, lol.

And contouring: lots and lots of contouring to deal with the swelling.

I blend the contouring and add some highlighter.

I add blush and mascara and do my brows.

I add lipcolor- Nars PowerMatte Lip Pigment in American Woman. I try and build up some concealer. My concealers remain sadly wimpy.

I am entertained by the results.

I keep fussing with concealers and powders and highlighters to see if any additional coverage is possible. It is, but only with a super-cakey outcome that would not be wearable (by me at least) outside.

It was a fun experiment with pretty dramatic results!

Then I washed it all off and took a nap!

I was hoping the bruising would be gone by today, but it’s not. So today I asked Kel to drive me out to Ulta to see if I could find a better concealer. Internet research (and daughter) maintain that It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Full Coverage Concealer is the go-to product, so I picked it up. And, wow, yes. It’s a whole other class of concealer.

Of course under normal circumstances I would never want anything so heavy –it’s seriously heavy. But I cannot deny: it covered my bruises. And, it blended pretty evenly, I must say, for being so thick and gloppy. I would totally wear it out in public.

Application requires a learning curve though. I am finding my weird little silicone applicator that looks like a butt plug (found years back at TJ Maxx) seems to do better than either brush or beauty blender. Update: no, fingers work best, because it has to be warmed and patted in to get optimal results.

Anyway, the results are pretty astounding:

This is end of the day after it’s partly worn off, just to show you the heavy lifting it’s doing!

I think I may need to adjust the shade a tad darker and cooler (from 25 Medium Natural [N] to 24 Medium Beige [C]). [Update: I did replace it but I’m not convinced the yellowish tint wasn’t better for the undereye covering purple circles purposes, despite not being an overall perfect skin color match. Yellow is the tone used to correct dark/purple discoloration in general. This is Makeup, Advanced and I’m uncertain….] [[Update again: now that the bruising is gone the new color is perfect! And it’s really an amazing product used in infinitesimally small amounts, warmed up and patted in!]]

Anyway, I don’t anticipate using it again after the bruises heal, god willing! But I’m glad to have it just in case.

Anyway, there you have it – an excellent test of makeup in the face of (get it? get it?) a critical fashion injury!

Workshop Summary: Preparing for a Non-Academic Career

This post and a companion post on the Academic Job Market were the summaries of two talks I gave at the University of Durham in the UK, offered by Katie Harling-Lee. For anyone curious about my in-person talks, this is how I spend the one hour (followed by 30 minutes of Q and A.) Thank you, Katie, for taking the time to provide these.

Katie Harling-Lee is a PhD student in the Department of English Studies at Durham University, UK, funded by The Wolfson Foundation. Her primary research is in musico-literary studies, exploring the thematic use of music in the contemporary novel with a particular focus on the use of Western classical music in conflict situations. In the early stages of her PhD studies, she is preparing herself for the academic career market, but also co-runs the blog Object [], endeavors to find time for ‘fun reading’ alongside her research, and tweets on the academic and nonacademic world as @KatieOsha. Find her at her personal website:, and also here: and here:


In just an hour and a half, Dr Karen Kelsky presented a room full of budding PhD students with enough advice to warrant over 2,500 words worth of notes. This post is the boiled down version, highlighting the points that I wish all PhD students were taught during their studies. 

To Begin

Turn your PhD into a job. Yes, academic study can be a passion, but it is also job preparation, packed full with training opportunities. This idea can sometimes be frowned upon in the ivory tower of academia, but like it or not, universities are in crisis — and there is no time like the present for starting your job preparations, both for academic and nonacademic routes. You must prioritise your employability with each decision you make, and your PhD will provide incredibly useful job training once you realise how to articulate the skills you have on a job application. This post focusses on Karen’s tips for preparing for a non-academic career, but you can see this post [link] for a summary of her tips on ‘hacking’ the academic job market. 

What is post-ac?

Post-ac is the wide-reaching term used to refer to working in the non-academic world after completing PhD study. There are other terms in use, including alt-ac, non-ac, out-ac… But as Karen pointed out, if only 5-35% PhDs (depending on the field) get a tenure track job, then the tenure track career is the ‘alt-career’, and the normative is taking the PhD and doing something outside of the professorship. This post will help you do that. To start, think of the ‘post-ac’ stage of your career not as the final resting point, but as a temporary stage, on the way to the place where you will eventually land: a world of employed PhDs not in academia. 

The Transition

How long should you try in academia before transitioning out? There is no hard and fast rule, and it all relies on personal circumstances; one year is not long enough, but after three years, you should consider asking yourself some serious career questions. Because this is such a precarious time, consider making plans now, rather than waiting three to five years before you figure it out. The non-academic transition can be brutally hard, as academia often becomes a life and identity for us, rather than just a job, and it can be hard to see a route out. But believe me (and Karen), there are many. Start by thinking like an entrepreneur. In fact, you may not know it, but you are already entrepreneurial: you came up with a field and a research question(s), you found a university, you got funding, you found insights into your research question(s), you defended them verbally, and then you published your results. All of these PhD accomplishments are the mark of an entrepreneur, and you will bring these skills with you to whatever is next in your career.

The Job Search: What To Do When You Leave Academia

    Just get a job! Academia has a clear structure and plan, while the wider job market does not. The non-academic world is much more improvisational, so just try something, gain new skills, new insights, and be flexible in your choices. You don’t have to know how this will all turn out, and that is okay. Just take a step, then evaluate your situation. Take another step, and evaluate again. Each small move opens different paths, and you cannot anticipate where they might all lead. Along the way, cultivate mentors in your field who aren’t academic. Job mentors can be anyone, and they can mentor you through just one conversation, or a handful. The important thing is to talk to people and become aware of the non-academic network around you. 

The Job Search: Networking

Networking is absolutely key, because 70-80% jobs are not advertised, and there are three main ways to do this. One option is to arrange a 30-minute informational interview with someone who works in the field you want to work in. Ask them questions to inform yourself about that field of work, such as: When do you hire? What qualifications do you look for? How do you think of PhDs? How would you recommend I build up my record? A second option is through digital networking on Twitter and LinkedIn. To do this successfully, keep your skills up-to-date and make sure that you have endorsements. The third option is to meet people in person by going to events. When choosing this option, identify your networking goal beforehand, and research and plan your interaction. When executing the plan, remember people’s names, acquire contact details, and establish and maintain communication after the event. 

What jobs can I do? 

So many! Karen listed some of the main areas: higher education administration, consulting, non-profits, financial services, secondary school teaching, academic or trade publishing, cultural and historical organisations, entrepreneurship, freelancing. The thing to remember is that in the non-academic job world, you need to shift your academic identity into skills. Employers aren’t looking for a philosopher or a physicist, they’re looking for skilled workers. To get you thinking about the many skills you already have, here’s a list of just a few (read Karen’s book [link] for a list of 100+ skills):

  • Project management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Writing
  • Public speaking
  • Thought leadership (your PhD)
  • Innovation (your research contribution)
  • Networking
  • Research
  • Teaching and training
  • ICT

Cover letter and Resume (CV in the UK)

A resume (CV) is a marketing document, and you will change it for every job that you apply for. You need to identity the needs of the employer and the position and, just like in academia, the job search is about them, not you. So, describe how your background makes you uniquely suited to fulfill those needs, and do so in a way that is reader friendly. 

    All that invisible volunteer work that is part of your academic life will be the bread and butter of your CV. Think about all the things you have done and re-evaluate them from a non-academic point of view: for example, if you organised a conference, then that’s event planning. Quantify the skills you have, tallying them into knowledge and achievements; think about how many pages you can read or write in a week, and tally that up! Think about how much money you raised in funding. Think about how many sources you consulted and handled. Put numbers to the skills, use action words, and be specific, making them concrete achievements which the non-academic world can understand and appreciate. For example, don’t write ‘was responsible for filing documents’ but do write ‘filed and maintained confidential student records’. Wherever possible, describe your accomplishments: not ‘raised funds for annual service project’, but ‘raised $11,050 for the annual Kids Read benefit, a 15% increase from the previous year’. Also, when describing your responsibilities, you need to be aware of the language of academia and the language of business. For example, a presentation is a pitch, teaching is leadership, writing is communications, grading is valuation and management, and writing a dissertation is the execution of a large-scale strategy. Be aware of the language you use, and also consider using the same key words that are used in the job advert. You can even use a word cloud (my favourite tip) to pick out the key words and make them easier to pinpoint [image example?]. 

The Non-Ac Cover Letter

The cover letter is where you address certain challenges, because PhDs don’t always have the best reputation. You will have to manage other people’s reactions to your PhD, so make sure the language you use is accessible and fits the job, making the distance between you and them as small as possible. Downplay your academic credential, and up-play the skills you have gained from the experience. You also need to show that you can work in a team: show that you can communicate, have an ability to work with others, and that you’re collaborative and likable. Demonstrate your intellectual ability, but along the lines of problem solving and data analysis rather than your specific academic research. And communicate your adaptability and perseverance — you are able to overcome adversity, troubleshoot problems, and take different points of view, all because of your PhD study.

    When formatting your cover letter, you should follow the principles of business letter writing: 12-point font, 1 page, date, name and address in the top left, beginning ‘Dear…’. Here’s an example of how to structure your paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduce who you are, the position for which you’re applying, and note where you saw it advertised
  • Paragraph 2 (and 3): Make connections between yourself and the job in these body paragraphs. Write about what is interesting about this job, explain weaknesses and gaps, if you have them, and treat your PhD as a problem you have to explain. You can also be more emotional to show your enthusiasm, unlike in the academic job world, because you’re making a pitch of yourself. Remember to explain why you’re changing careers, because not everyone knows about the difficulties of the academic world. Create a narrative (you’re allowed to use ‘passion’ here), for example: ‘I discovered that my passion is not for abstract academia, but for hands-on action into…’. Don’t let it be a long narrative, but do address it. Also, do not use the term ‘overqualified’, because there is too much judgement in that word. 
  • Final Paragraph: Conclude and invite further communication, followed by a salutation and your contact info. For example, ‘I look forward to an opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you further. I can be reached at the phone number below. Sincerely, …’

The DIY Career

The idea of ‘good jobs’ is going extinct, and many people are considering the DIY or entrepreneurial route. You could consider starting your own business (like Karen!), or freelancing. To do so, you need to think about your identity, and how these can become skills which could be used for creating that DIY career. Karen used her own situation as an example: she had her academic skills, a hobby of Japanese paper crafting, and ‘weird obsessions’ with the job market and professionalization. She took these and set up an Etsy site selling paper-crafting jewellery. Later, after realizing that she wasn’t making enough money from her Etsy shop, she developed the Professor Is In. It’s all about innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, so embrace that, and be aware of the improvisational element: you will have to create a website, cultivate a social media presence, and learn how to market and advertise. You may also have to take on a number of temporary jobs to keep afloat, but use these to learn what your skills are. And consider how your acquired skills can come together to create a new job outcome. You have so many skills from before and during the PhD programme, so use them.  

Final Thoughts

If there’s one thing to take from Karen’s talks, book, and blog, it’s this: don’t delay in thinking about your career. Think about it now, not in a panicked ‘oh my gosh what am I going to do in this terrible job market’ kind of way, but in a ‘look at all these skills I’m gaining during my PhD’ kind of way. Be aware of what you enjoy, and what you don’t, when it comes to academic work. Be aware of what your priorities are, and not other people’s; think about you and what you really want from a career, and then start to plan your options. A PhD is all about critical thinking, so don’t hesitate to critically evaluate your job situation, and consider alternatives. Think about your skills and your priorities, and then learn to translate those into the language required for the job market – whether that be academic, or the vast world of non-academic careers. 

Additional Resources

If you want help, you can get in touch with Karen and her team at non-ac career has also become so common that ‘quit-lit’ is now a thing, and Karen listed numerous online resources, alongside The Professor Is In website, a few of which are below:

  • So What Are You Going to Do with That? Finding Careers Outside Academia by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius
  • a planning tool for anyone with a PhD, providing questions to help imagine new career routes and identify career values
  • Beyond the Professoriate: Conference at with online recordings
  • The post-ac blogosphere which includes advice columns on Chronicle Higher Ed ( and Inside Higher Ed (
  • Your university’s career website 
  • Clifton Strengthsfinder: an old-school corporate tool which might be off putting but remains useful

Your Diss is Dead

Sharing another post in our new semi-regular series, “Missives from the Editing Trenches” written by long-time TPII editors. They are the real MVPs, working in the trenches to catch you in all your job document pitfalls — from the self-deprecating to the self-aggrandizing. They’ve seen it all and are happy to share their knowledge and give you concrete tips on how to make your documents shine.

Today’s post is by Dr. Petra Shenk.


Your diss is dead, baby, dead. But don’t weep. It went through a remarkable transformation into the book and/or journal articles (present, future, and past) that derive from it. And here is the other kicker, all the research that culminated in your diss and all that never made it into the tome, which nobody else will ever read, are also no longer your diss or your diss research. They too are simply publications (in review, in progress, etc.) and your previous and ongoing research.  

So, for example, if you have finished your degree, STOP writing variations of:

  • “My dissertation, How the ponies reversed climate change, explores how the power of friendship among diverse individuals coheres into a group of influential ponies that fight for the betterment of all ponies and non-ponies…”
  • “My dissertation is under contract with UC Press…” 
  • “UC Press has expressed interest in my dissertation…”


  • “My book manuscript, How the ponies reversed climate change, explores how the power of friendship among diverse individuals coheres into a group of influential ponies that fight for the betterment of all ponies and non-ponies…”
  • “My first book, How the ponies reversed climate change,
  • “My manuscript is under contract with UC Press…”
  • “UC Press has expressed interest in the project, and I will submit a proposal in June 2021…”

If you are not in a book field, then write variations on:

  • “My current research examines a remarkable reversal of climate change. Using mixed-methods, including X and Y, I explore how the power of friendship among diverse individuals coheres into a group of influential ponies that fight for the betterment of all ponies and non-ponies…”
  • “I currently have two forthcoming journal articles, one published book chapter, and another article under review. My article, “TITLE,” appears in Journal and argues…”

Now go forth and a save the world. 

#MakeupMonday – Old Navy Jumpsuit, Parts II AND III, Ann Arbor Edition

I must say when I started The Professor Is In I didn’t expect to spend so much of my time blogging about a jumpsuit.

However, there is more to say. (And yes I’m aware today is Thursday but in my defense I just finished three marvelous but tiring 8 hour days of talks and 1-1 coaching on the U of Michigan campus).

First: just when you thought the Old Navy Breathe ON Jumpsuit (about which I have blogged repeatedly, and which by the way, has been restocked!) couldn’t get any better, they come out with a Breathe-ON cinched wrap in matching fabric (matching the dark and light grey that is). Throw this wrap over the jumpsuit, and you transform it from a Spring-Summer item to a Fall-Winter. You also have a supremely comfortable item for the crap-shoot that is flying: too hot? It’s breathable and loose and balls up into a tiny, non-wrinkling ball to shove into your bag. Too cold? Grab it and put it on, and it comes out of the bag as fresh as when it went in! Also cozy for sleeping in.

Some more pics:

Second: today the jumpsuit got put to the ultimate Karen travel test. First off, there are the facts about Karen that have to be mentioned, to wit, I am a person who:

  1. gets a peanut butter and jelly donut with my coffee in Ann Arbor
  2. bites into the donut and immediately releases a massive glob of jelly onto the table
  3. fails to notice that half that jelly actually has fallen onto my lap and the chair
  4. gets up to get a napkin to wipe the jelly off the table without realizing I am dragging my left leg through the jelly on the chair
  5. notices a mass of now-smeared jelly on the chair when I get back
  6. deduces that — ONCE AGAIN — I have managed to smear my food all over my outfit, in this case, all over the butt and legs of my Old Navy Jumpsuit.
  7. has at hand only one small square dry Espresso Royale napkin.

Friends, I used that napkin, and discreetly at the table (because I didn’t want to walk through the coffee shop with jelly on my butt), wiped the jelly off the leg and behind of my jumpsuit.

Et voila:

nary a mark

That jelly just…. ROLLED OFF the fabric. You can see a few specks of white paper napkin, but absolutely no jelly.

So, while I didn’t plan to keep blogging about the jumpsuit, circumstances gave me no choice.

If you haven’t tried this jumpsuit yet, especially for travel, I once again I recommend it. (And for those who have not followed the lively FB dialogue from previous posts, it’s a cinch to roll down in a tiny aircraft lavatory, and the performance fabric is so springy it never loses its shape even after a 12 hour travel day.)

Bonus tip: The Walgreens in Ann Arbor is one of only 11 locations in the country to feature in-store BirchBox cosmetic sign up and stock. Ie, you can BUY BirchBox IN STORE, and not just one option, but several different options, as well as a special “Create Your Own Box” using samples that they have right there on hand.

Beyond that (and maybe related, I’m not sure) the Walgreens features a sizable selection of prestige and indie cosmetics, skin and hair care on regular sale–>

I found an Eyeko (remember–my favorite brand!) Brow Marker, a Love Of Color Glowsquad Quad highlighter combo and a Lipstick Queen RearView Mirror Lipcolor that were all, actually and without hyperbole, revelatory. The Eyeko Brow Marker fills in my brow gap (where I pull out hair due to life-long trichotillomania) with an effortless naturalness that I’ve never before encountered in any product. The LOC highlighter finally threads that needle between over-shiny and invisible on my skin while also not being too silver/cold or too champagne/pink or too glimmer/gold (Goldilocks, anyone?) but just a perfect delicate flush, and the Rear View Mirror lipcolor, which I bought ENTIRELY on a whim just for the bright fuscia color, turns out to ACTUALLY STAY ON THROUGH MEALS WHILE ALSO BEING HIGH-GLOSS AND HIGH-PIGMENT. I did not believe this was possible, and that’s after spending a fortune on the ill-fated Prestige/Luxury Berry-colored Lipcolor debacle (scroll back for posts).

Honestly I’m still reeling a bit from the whole thing. I went back to Walgreens before leaving, and got a neutral color (downside, there are only 8 colors in total) which is what I’m wearing below. Sorry for the weird selfie but I was self-conscious and rushing in the Airport Lufthansa Lounge.

“Yes, We Will Revise that R&R”: Birthing and Writing in the “Publish-or-Perish” Paradigm – Guest Post

I am pleased to host this guest post by Professor Margaret M. Quinlan and Bethany L. Johnson, authors of a new book, You’re Doing It Wrong! Mothering, Media, and Medical Expertise (Rutgers U Press, 2019). See below for additional info and links related to the book.

Margaret M. Quinlan (Ph.D.) is an associate professor in the department of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She explores how communication creates, resists and transforms knowledges about bodies. She critiques power structures in order to empower individuals who are marginalized inside and outside of healthcare systems. She has authored approximately 40 journal articles, 17 book chapters and co-produced documentaries in a regional Emmy award-winning series. 

Bethany L. Johnson (MPhil, M.A.) is an instructor in history and an associate member to the graduate faculty and research affiliate faculty in the department of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She studies how science, medicine, and health discourses are framed and reproduced by institutions and individuals from the 19th century to the present. She has published in interdisciplinary journals such as Health Communication, Women & Language, Departures in Critical Qualitative Research and Women’s Reproductive Health. 


I [Maggie] sat in the pediatrician’s office with my two children texting my husband with updates on results for sore throats, high temperatures and ear infections. I made the mistake of checking my email to learn that Bethany and I received a MAJOR Revise and Resubmit (R&R) on our latest journal article under review. The supportive editor urged us to “let [them] know if [we] would like to revise…in the next three weeks because my term as an editor is about to end.”

I panicked and texted Bethany while I waited for the nurse to report the results of a urine culture. The following is a transcript of the ensuing text message exchange:


Bethany: “I’m driving with DO NOT DISTURB while driving turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I am going”

Bethany: Wait, what?! I am in drop off line will read when I get home

Maggie: Did I forget to say congrats? Oh yeah, congrats. I have a pit in my stomach

Maggie: We HAVE NO CHOICE but to do the revisions. All I see is $$.

Bethany: The fact that [Editor] wants it back so soon must mean that [Editor] is supportive, right?

Maggie: Well, Reviewer 2 basically said REJECT. And [child’s] last day of preschool is Thursday. When will we do this?!

We both text our sitters (we each have a toddler and a baby) to figure out what days work for them so we can pump out the revisions. At this time, we both still pumped breastmilk; we completed all this pumping simultaneously. After a phone meeting we make a plan: Maggie will create the revision chart while Bethany begins to rework the introduction.

Writing about the dangers of maternal death in the early postpartum period (the first six weeks) took on a new meaning as we worked to meet deadlines in the very period in question. We meant to advocate for others in our situation, but doing so meant we had to bring the book to publication as soon as possible, and that required us to work during those six weeks.

Our Press would have given us more time and everyone there was very supportive. However, the penalties for delays impact opportunities for advancement in our careers (e.g., research visibility, promotions, grant funding), even if these penalties aren’t obvious until later. For tenured professors, there is the option to “stop the clock,” but there is evidence that this is more beneficial for those without primary caretaking responsibilities.

Maggie is a tenured associate professor who went back to work with her second child at three months and Bethany is an instructor and had to take semesters off unpaid as she was due at the end of a semester twice. Although Maggie was able to take paid leave and did not teach, she remained on masters and doctoral student committees and skyped into defenses because if she took time off those committees it would have erased years of mentorship and emotional labor. This resulted in more than 50 hours of work the semesters she went unpaid and without health insurance.

We are also aware these stopping the clock, altering teaching schedules, and all the other ways we modified or rearranged our schedules reflect economic and other forms of structural privilege. We have colleagues who managed to juggle shifting deadlines by handing off childcare to partners. We realize we are fortunate to have supportive partners; however, they have work constrains as well. Bethany’s partner travels weekly and often at the last minute, so schedules time-off in advance. Maggie’s partner has a family manufacturing business with no vacation time, so taking on more childcare than planned equates to lost business.

We conducted a cost-benefit analysis of a R&R with Major Revisions to Press. Here it is:

2 Academics

20 hours each for childcare

a Total of 40 hours at 15 dollars/hour

            Total: $600

Compensation for academic publishing:

  • $0 from publisher, journal, etc.
  • From university:
    • tenured party: $0; expected tenure and promotion
    • untenured party: $0; neither recognition nor job security.
    • Untenured party also has to absorb childcare cost ($300) against adjunct pay ($3500 per course before taxes) and can’t afford not to publish, in hopes of future job stability (also believes in the work).

Before our first children, Maggie and I discussed how hard it would be to balance the demands of an academic job where you have to complete teaching/mentoring, researching/publication, committees/service work—and that’s if you don’t work in a lab. Our jobs have some flexibility in that we can teach online or work from home, but this comes with expectations (from ourselves and others) that we are available around the clock. The result is often 60 hours a week of work, to complete with time leftover for our families and the ever-elusive “self-care.” In some cases, there are real consequences for taking leave (paid or unpaid) as it can lead to accusations of not “pulling your weight” in a department.

As such, we are well aware of the “pregnancy penalty.” and “motherhood tax.” We finished our book manuscript, You’re Doing It Wrong! Mothering, Media and Medical Expertise, a full year before the deadline because we both unexpectedly got pregnant with our second children.

It is easy to forget that academic publishing still has deadlines when individuals are on paid and unpaid leave (and Family Medical Leave Act leave) as one cannot control when article feedback arrives. Even after we returned from maternity leave, publishing (research, writing, editing, conference travel) means we need to pay for additional childcare and when that cannot happen, we are still expected to meet deadlines (even with extensions, although we never ask for them), the work piles up) so we work around the clock to meet deadlines.

Struggling with less sleep and more to balance in our families didn’t improve our writing, even if it forced us to be more efficient with our time. Social media complicates this already precarious balance as it is both a boon and a burden, allowing us to commiserate and celebrate with other academic mothers and parents, but potentially enabling students and colleagues more access to our daily lives and thus, critique and surveillance of our “off hours.”

What’s worse—sharing our experiences here could feel like an indictment of someone else’s postpartum period. Someone who asked for extensions, missed deadlines and did the hard work of disappointing others to maintain some semblance of balance in this critical period. We want to celebrate those decisions. Our point is that the system is broken, and no matter which path you choose (round-the-clock or clocking out) someone will say, “you’re doing it wrong.”

We recognize that the cultural landscape of families is shifting, more partners are engaged in parenting, and the cis, heterosexual model of the nuclear family does not reflect the lived experience of many within and outside of academia. We are not claiming that fathers, same-sex couples, etc. do not experience similar challenges. Cis males in heterosexual couples are doing more than even to co-parent, though overall, labor is still distributed in ways that unequally burdens cis female partners. Furthermore, researchers found that involved fathers have decreased tension around work-family balance and experience increased work satisfaction overall. Others conclude that having children increases pay/compensation and also increases output—unless you are a mother.[1]

Because of the financial commitment of preparing our research for peer-reviewed submission, we remain dedicated to completing revisions to the editor and reviewers’ satisfaction and seeing our articles go to press. We both love our work; we are passionate about teaching, committed to our graduate and undergraduate students, and we enjoy the challenge and discovery of research and publication, but we are tired. Our responses are concise to maintain our professionalism, but what these messages omit are the economic, personal and relational costs of maintaining our standards in a system that “taxes” us, directly or indirectly, for reproducing.  

Dear [Editor],

Thank you for the opportunity to revise our manuscript. Yes— we will complete revisions by the deadline.



[1] In our book, we discuss at length the problem with the label “mother,” even while we acknowledge the theoretical, legal and political weight of the title. As we say, “We most often use the term “mother” to reflect historical terminology, self-identification, and the direction of the medical gaze, yet we acknowledge that gender/sex is a continuum and motherhood is a state of flux. This word is both sufficient and wholly insufficient to describe the experiences of many today…we hope to examine how power and oppression impact individuals who wish to identify as a mother or identify themselves as mothers or parents across diverse social strati (see also Griffin & Chávez, 2012)” (p. 3).


Here is some information about our book: “You’re Doing it Wrong! investigates the storied history of expertise around mothering in the media, from the newspapers, magazines, doctors’ records and personal papers of the nineteenth century to today’s websites, Facebook groups, and Instagram feeds. Johnson and Quinlan find surprising parallels between today’s mothering experts and their Victorian counterparts, but they also explore how social media has placed unprecedented pressures on new mothers wrestling with familiar concerns and crises from pre-conception through early toddlerhood.”

Here is a short blurb on the book.

Here is some book coverage on Vox.

We have a website that explains some of our other projects:

Johnson, B., & Quinlan, M. M. (2019). You’re doing it wrong! Mothering, media, and medical expertise. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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