“You’re just like my wife” (I never thought this would be a theme)

Posted: October 22, 2010 by Jender in Bad news, Good news, you're just like my wife

About six years ago (when I was only 20) I was admitted into a top tier American P.h.D. program in philosophy. I decided to specialize in Ancient Greek philosophy. Needless to say, the demands were great, and I was very young. Not only did I have far less experience than my peers (most of whom already had Master’s degrees), I, unlike them, had to learn Greek and Latin. The first two years were very difficult. On the verge of burnout I scheduled a meeting with my male advisor. Among other things I said, “I am having a difficult time making philosophy my whole life.” The male advisor became visibly agitated and, without a moment’s thought, responded, “My wife is just like that. She is good at doing many things at once but not good at focusing on any one thing. Perhaps this is the wrong field for you.” At the time it was a well known fact in the department that this man’s wife was a full time mom. Demoralized, I ended up taking six months off of graduate school. When I came back this professor refused to read my work. I am proud to say that, several years later, I have been invited to speak at conferences and have advanced to candidacy. One of my committee members, a well-known male classicist, lauded my dissertation proposal, saying that it was a cut above the rest. My new advisor (a man) has been similarly supportive.

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