I have plenty tales of woe, but lots of good ones, too. See here are some for the “do try this at home” category:
* I defended my dissertation when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and no one blinked, but someone slyly said, good-naturedly, “don’t think that just because you’re about to pop that we’re going to let you off easy.”
* I went on the job market one year when I was pregnant, turned down a tenure-track offer, and went back on the market the next year with a baby in tow that I was nursing. For campus visits, I asked for breaks so that hint-hint I could pump milk, and everyone obliged and no one batted an eye.
* At dinner at the chair’s house at one campus visit, I nursed my baby at the table, and the chair said, “he’s got to eat, too.” I got an offer there, took the job, got pregnant again immediately, was given time off, and got tenure two years early (cause I am a hard worker on top of raising babies).
* Now I’m at another great institution that is terrific. Being a woman here is great. It is only the non-university folks who inquire about what my husband’s work is (thinking that this is what brought us here).
Lessons: project self-confidence even when you’re not confident, work on what you care about, and the hell with them if they can’t deal with you.
I do really good work in programs that aren’t highly ranked in some circles. And I think this (the areas I work in) has been one of the reasons I have been able to thrive as a woman philosopher. I think there just might be a connection between the areas of philosophy we work in and the attitudes towards women.