Kate Clancy: Three Lessons

I just read Kate Clancy’s post “The three things I learned at the Purdue Conference for Pre-Tenure Women: on being a radical scholar” over at her blog at Scientific American.  This is definitely well worth a read.  She writes about life, academia, tenure–and the need to be radicals.  What does she mean by that?  Well, you need to read her post to find out.  For now, a few selections:

The conference was transformative. I feel like those hundred or so women that I went to that conference with are my posse now, and it is exciting to imagine that in six to ten years, we could, all of us, be tenured. I felt supported and appreciated by the folks who ran the conference, and was simply amazed at the fierceness and brilliance of both the organizers and speakers (Katie Pope and Beverly Davenport Sypher now rank among my Favorite People Ever). I finally got to meet the great Alice Pawley, and was struck by her warmth, her intelligence, and her strength. I came away with several concrete ideas to improve my chances for tenure… and a lot of unease about this process that will not leave me until I hear final word, a few more years from now, about whether or not I get it.

And here’s a little sneak peak at Clancy’s third lesson:

But those of us who insist on playing with our toys in the academic sandbox need to be radicals. And I do think a lot of the ways we need to be radical involves how we perform our job: we need to set boundaries so that we aren’t always doing the service work no one wants, we need to make our passions our scholarly interests in the face of some who would invalidate it, we need to perform our confidence in front of people who might undermine us. We need to get tenure.

Clancy also talks about some of the conundrums of academia, including the continued practice of gauging the merit of scholars based upon, well, some outdated metrics:

But are peer-reviewed publications, read and cited by only by a select group of those peers, the best way to assess influence and importance? They are certainly no longer the only way. My 2006 paper on iron-deficiency anemia and menstruation has been cited by six other papers; my 2011 blog post on this paper has been viewed tens of thousands of times and received almost sixty comments between its two postings.

There’s a lot more she has to say.  Check it out, here.


Ryan Anderson is a cultural and environmental anthropologist. His current research focuses on coastal conservation, sustainability, and development in the Californias. He also writes about politics, economics, and media. You can reach him at ryan AT savageminds dot org or @anthropologia on twitter.

One thought on “Kate Clancy: Three Lessons

  1. I consider Kate Clancy to be a significant phenomenon among American female bloggers, second only, perhaps, to Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) in number of followers. Clancy advances a novel model of feminism whereby commitment to “radical” change (in her case, changing centralized, elitist, patriarchical, and hierarchical academic networks) is combined with MAINSTREAM scholarship. It is important for young female academics to study Clancy’s model for its possible utility in their own lives. It is, also, important for them to hear John Hawke’s caveat in his reply to Clancy’s blogpost that you link above: PUBLICATION is the way to scholarly independence and, one might add, to the recognition in their disciplines that these young women urgently wish to attain. I have created a running blogpost, The Clancy Effect, that some may find of interest. Though I applaud Clancy’s messages and her earnestness, my comments represent my personal analysis and are not devoid of criticism.

    Blog: http://vertebratesocialbehavior.blogspot.com
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/cbjones1943

Comments are closed.