Despite the growing number of women in archaeology, anthropology is still very much a boy’s club. I had been warned of this throughout my undergraduate career, but I only realized the magnitude of this problem recently whilst searching for potential Ph.D advisors.
If you’ve ever attended The Ohio State University, you’ve probably been brainwashed into thinking that no faculty advisor in the country will want you, and you’ll be lucky to get into any graduate program at all, much less into a highly competitive yet slowly dying discipline clinging to life amongst crippling economic depression and administrative corruption.
This is fair. Many undergraduates admitted to OSU shouldn’t have even passed their fourth grade proficiency tests. That they survived to eighteen is a miracle because they probably can’t even read the illustrated warning labels on hair dryers.
If you emerged from your undergraduate career shaken and dependent on anti-depressants, but still wanting to pursue a graduate degree in anthropology, you are then faced with the task of finding a program and advisor, bearing in mind, of course, that no advisor wants you.
The good news is, that if all of the faculty dislike you equally, you are free to make choices based on your own personal preferences. This is how I am approaching the problem of finding a Ph.D advisor. I will have you know that it is not working at all because what I am looking for in an advisor is far too uncommon.
I am looking for someone with a research background in dental anthropology.
I am looking for someone who works at a university in the United States.
I am looking for a female.
Guess which one of these criteria is too much to ask?
If you guessed female faculty advisor, you’re correct! Congratulations! You win a spray bottle of vinegar and a cloth. Go give that glass ceiling a good cleaning, eh?
Now, some of you might be asking, “Why do you need a female advisor?” The sex of your dissertation advisor shouldn’t be that big of an issue. Maybe for most people it isn’t. Maybe I’m the only woman in the whole world who prefers to have female mentors, but I think that’s unlikely.
I need a female advisor because I don’t want to spend the next million years acting. I’ve never written a dissertation, but I’ve been told a million years is about how long it takes to finish one. As I’m not a sociopath, I don’t want to have to pretend to be smarter than I really am, or wittier, or more capable, or more masculine than I really am. If I wanted to be an actress, I would have studied theatre.
In looking for potential advisors, I have spent hours pouring over university webpages. On every single website, without exception, nearly all of the full professors are male, and all of the assistant professors are female. Every. Single. Website. That means that for those universities, males are receiving tenure at rates that far outpace women. So even though the number of females in anthropology is approximately equal at the undergraduate level, this ratio is grossly disproportionate in higher levels of academia.
This is the glass ceiling, ladies, and it’s fucking bulletproof.