I can’t help but think…

Posted: January 6, 2012 by Jender in Uncategorized

I turned in my final copy of my dissertation two weeks ago. I had a bad dissertation experience in a department that went through diversity training some years back after complaints from (the few) female graduate students. I was originally scheduled to defend seven months ago, but my defense was canceled the night before my defense because 1)two members of my committee did not read my dissertation until the day before my original defense date, 2)these same two members had issues with four of the five original chapters, 3)one of the two went out of the country for the month after my original defense date.

I spent the summer revising to meet the demands of the one committee member who did not leave the country. This involved doubling one of the chapters that involved a lot of formal work. At the end of the summer, the member who went out of the country still had not read the complete dissertation, but insisted on my adding an additional chapter. This same member still hadn’t read the entire dissertation right up until two weeks before my defense.

After my defense my director apologized for the delay, and another member emailed an apology. Over the summer the member of my committee who is outside of my department emailed me twice to remind me that his role on my committee was to act on behalf of the Graduate College to ensure fairness.

I was offered a teaching fellowship last year, but lost it because I was not allowed to defend before the beginning of the fall semester. I am on the market again, and the prospects for my specialization are not good this year. The advice that my placement director gave me is not to lose hope because there are many success stories from our department. All of these stories are about male graduate students. He had no success stories for former female graduate students.

I can’t help but think that all of this happened to me because I am female with a specialization dominated by males.

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