Helping the Minoritized Achieve in Academic Science

I have noticed a troubling trend since achieving the status of TenuredProfessor. The trend is that people think you no longer need mentoring because you have tenure. Apparently, I am supposed to go from clueless to expert overnight because a committee voted to give me a job for life. Being a direct sort of person, I asked several mentors if they would still mentor me now that I have tenure, and more than one actually said “No” – to my face! I was shocked. It is one thing it feel their care and guidance slowly slipping, but it is quite another to be directly told that they will not mentor you anymore.

One particular mentor, my assigned mentor in my department, said that there was no point in mentoring because I already have tenure. My response was, “What about getting Full? What do I need for that?” His response was one of surprise that I was asking and to say, “You don’t need to think about it.” What?!? I don’t need to think about the next goal of your career. You are surprised that I would think about it so early? Like it will just happen automatically? Well, let me tell you, for most women and minorities, it doesn’t “just happen.” Full professor is the exact location of the glass ceiling in many science and engineering departments. I wonder why? (she typed sarcastically).

Frankly, I did not get to where I was by not thinking about the next step with plenty of time to spare. Maybe white men just bumble around and land jobs, get tenure, and full professor, but not women. No sir, we have to plan. We have to set goals. We have to start early because we also want houses, children, and lives, and you cannot do both by just bumbling around. It takes some heavy planning. All I am asking for is the expectations to help me shape my path and plan my attack for the next five years. Is that so much to ask?

And this leads to another issue I have, which is that there are no clear rules for getting Full Professor. But, more on that in later posts.

In addition to the ludicrous idea that you no longer need mentoring once you have tenure, I believe that this attitude leads to bigger problems for people post-tenure. In particular, this concept that tenure is the only goal – the ultimate goal – totally leads to the bigger idea that life ends at tenure. It tells people that there is nothing left to achieve, and I believe it is one reason why I think so many high achievers who get tenure have Post-Tenure Depression. This attitude leads to low productivity and difficulty maintaining your edge in research and teaching.

This entry was a little angrier than I usually get, but these specific impediments burn me up! Anyway, I just want to remind you that my goal is for this blog to provide more than advise. I want to provide a roadmap to success. With sensible means to achieve your goals that are not stupid like, “Get a paper in Science” and “Be great and get grants.” I also am so happy to have people engaging with guest posts and comments. Thank you and keep it up! It makes the blog a community of helpful people. Do you have comments about mentoring after tenure? If so, I leave you with the regular request to write a post or comment.

Comments on: "Tenure: The End of Mentoring" (3)

  1. […] for women in academia is at the full-professor level, as I describe and quoted primary research in this blog post. So, despite the onset age of the resistive load, the trend of the resistance, or other personal […]

  2. […] I have lamented before, with the coming of tenure seems to be the loss of mentoring. There are a number of new pursuits […]

  3. […] Unfortunately, as I have said previously, once you get tenure, mentoring seems to more or less end (end of mentoring). That means that you probably have to try even harder to get nominated for awards. Further, since […]

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