Talk on gender discriminations at universities in India, Brazil and South Africa
Prof Nishi Mitra vom Berg from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai will speak on the issue of Women In Academia in the Developing World based on an international study in India, Brazil and South Africa.
Drawing on narratives of Academics in these three countries, she makes an unusual comment on women in Academia in a comparative and cross- cultural context,as she focuses on the theme of women's employment and contribution to knowledge production in Universities. Both Academics and Mothering are a special kind of work.This work orients one to a philosophy of being! Her presentation concerns itself particularly with challenges women face in academia as employed mothers, and the social construction of femininity and motherhood that they comply with or critique. It showcases the power and also the powerlessness that define their identity.The interpersonal and frank accounts of women participants in her research showcase paradoxes women face as 'thinking' academics and 'loving' mothers where they negotiate their roles in families and workplaces, sometimes in consonance, at other times in conflict with both tradition and modernity. The women academics express doubts about themselves, their concerns about their work, children and family,societal norms and expectations and workplace routines and practices. They explain their choices and dilemmas, the compromises they make, even when they critique systems and structures that unfairly put the load of mothering exclusively on them while belittling their role in Academic leadership. While the compelling stories show the women's pride in their academics, yet also demonstrate their guilt and sadness for not being full-time mothers or full time scholars.Women suffer self doubt even as they come to terms with their enjoyment of their work and their achievements. Ironically, many women seem to underestimate their own scholarly success as accidental, unplanned and incidental. Finally, in addressing the power relationships in their families and the universities where they are employed, they point out heir experiences as simultaneously empowering and dis-empowering. Knowledge production and child rearing continue to be fragmented in the lived realities of their workplace and families. Women as academics and mothers are often less of both in their own imagination and aspirations.
How may we change this scenario?