Beating the Odds: A Practical Guide to Navigating Sexism in Australian Universities

Front Cover
Marcia Devlin, May 17, 2021 - Business & Economics - 188 pages
Based on the author's 30 years of experience, this humorous book outlines the serious challenges facing women in in Australian universities. The book is a call to arms to women to take matters into their own hands. The first chapter, The Odds are Against You, paints a depressing picture. The numerical odds of women making it to the professoriate, university executive and board positions are outlined. Spoiler alert: they're not good and aren't improving. When almost one-third of Australian vice-chancellors left their posts in 2020, men mostly replaced men.Chapter Two, You're Expected to Be a Good Girl, outlines the gendered expectations, implicit assumptions, unconscious biases and sexism that university women face. Anecdotes of female professors being asked about cakes, carpets, curtains and colours help the reader confront shocking facts about their likely trajectory. The matters of invisibility; man-terruptions; bro-propriation; having the 'wrong' style; and being successful and liked at the same time are explored.In Chapter Three, Get An Attitude, the practical advice begins. The power of working within gendered expectations and avoiding 'unladylike' attitudes is examined. Examples of being a bad girl abound, including when it comes to so-called women's work. This chapter asks readers to start thinking about saying no and being bad at housework - at home and work. Emphasising the need to keep your ambition quiet if you are female, the fourth chapter, Prepare a Secret Strategy, focuses on defining success on your own terms, setting priorities and goals, and taking action. It ups the ante on saying no more often and being very bad at housework and sets some challenges for people-pleasing women.The title of Chapter Five, Do More of What Counts and Less of What Doesn't, gives away its focus. The summary is: do more self-promotion and less housework, but there's a bit of nuance for academic women seeking promotion.The advice to Form a Support Squad in Chapter Six draws on women's talents in building relationships and suggests an unusual approach to this endeavour. Chapter Seven, Beating the Odds, brings it all home with some humour and a shampoo ad.

About the author (2021)

Marcia Devlin, PhD, has an academic career spanning 30 years. She has won numerous awards for her leadership and held roles such as senior deputy vice-chancellor and senior vice-president. Devlin is also a registered psychologist, specialising in leadership coaching, and a change consultant. She holds several board roles. An active researcher and prolific writer, Devlin's name appears on hundreds of publications in academic, media and popular outlets. Throughout her careers, she has mentored hundreds of women and influenced thousands more to understand and successfully navigate the sexism of their workplace and beat the odds.

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