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Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia Paperback – October 31, 2012


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Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia + The Black Academic's Guide to Winning Tenure--Without Losing Your Soul
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Utah State University Press; 1 edition (October 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874219221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874219227
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"All my academic friends—white and black, gay and straight, minority and majority—are putting up images of the book on their Facebook page. They don't say much except "I'm ordering mine" but the proliferation of this cryptic message is enough: indicating a tectonic shift. . . I'm glad there is a book out there that can tell it like it is—a book that can do the talking for those who have to remain silent. Only in this way, with one party speaking to the other, can we begin a useful dialog. I hope everybody sticks Presumed Incompetent's image on their Facebook page. . . It will make the world a much, much better place."
—Khan Ho, The Huffington Post

"Presumed Incompetent offers valuable lessons and advice for just about everyone in Academia, from contigent faculty, post-docs, and tenured and tenure-track faculty, to administrators and search committees. It is up to us to heed that advice if we hope to erase the dangerous and erroneous belief in academic women's incompetence."
—Afshan Jafar, Inside Higher Education

"This book is for people of any race or gender who want to make campus a richer, healthier, more equitable place for all."
Women in Higher Education

"A 'must read' for everyone in and outside of academia."
— Amelia ML Montes, La Bloga

"Should be required reading for students entering graduate studies. . . Highly recommended."
—R. Price, Choice Magazine- March 2013 Editors Pick

From the Back Cover

"This book felt so painfully familiar I almost could not read it. Those of us who started our careers as firsts and onlys have had to forget much about the cruelty hidden in academic enclaves. Forgetting, a means of surviving, buries pain and erases history, leaving us morally and intellectually flimsy. Thanks to these women for taking the harder path of truth-telling."
Mari Matsuda, author of Where is Your Body: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Law

"Women in academia still face obstacles built up over centuries, but the contributors to Presumed Incompetent have taken a leap toward liberation. Their revelations will enrage you -- and open minds and hearts."
Gloria Steinem

Presumed Incompetent is undeniably a path-breaking book full of stories of resilience and survival. The editors of this magnificent collection attest to the power of storytelling and add to the testimonios of women in academia such as Telling to Live and Paths to Discovery. Each and every one of the authors survived and in telling their stories they offer hope and solace for young women scholars entering the academy.
Norma E. Cantú

Exploding the myth that we live in a "post-identity" world, Presumed Incompetent provides gripping first-hand accounts of the ways in which women faculty of color are subjected to stereotypes, fears and fantasies based on the intersection of race, gender, and class. It reminds us that the mere passage of time is not enough to create equitable workplaces for anyone facing institutional subordination.
Kimberlé Crenshaw

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I initially had to read this book for class but will continue reading for pleasure.
Maki
We need to read tis book to be aware of the kinds of experiences encountered by women in the academy, and especially women of color.
Colin Crawford
The many women who share their experiences break your heart as well as make you angry about the racism they endure.
Deborah C. Radbill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Colin Crawford on November 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a middle-aged, male, Anglo-American academic. And if there is any constituency that needs to read this book, it is middle-aged, Anglo-American males, who continue disproportionately to runt he academy. We need to read tis book to be aware of the kinds of experiences encountered by women in the academy, and especially women of color. What this collection of stories reveals is tat these are not isolated, episodic experiences, but reflections of deep-seated patterns of discrimination borne out of the historical inequalities in US society. So go and find an Anglo wo(man) academic and insist that they read this book!
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Quantum Windmills on September 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I got this book yesterday, I cannot put it down. I want to thank all the amazing COMPETENT SCHOLARS who contributed to this indispensable book. It speaks to me in deep ways and speaks to many of my own experiences with academia, throughout its pages. I am eternally grateful that a book such as this finally exists. With every essay, I am both enraged and comforted to find solidarity and a speaking of truths to power, together as women of color trying to navigate the often hostile labyrinth of academia, an institution not created for the likes of us.

Through many of the amazing essays, narratives, and testimonios in this book, each relatively short and readable (about 10-15 pages each), I find places where I relate strongly to what is described in each essay. At the same time that I am faced with the gut-wrenching truths of what it is to traverse this academic world and the consequences therein, even as these fierce and disturbing realities are named and uncovered, I can't help but also feel the warmth of sisterhood and solidarity. I am not alone. Other women of color have faced this too. And they had the strength and ferocity to tell about it. Somehow, even despite the ordeals in academia that are clearly warned about for women like us, this book makes me want to fight on, makes me speak back to that little voice that sometimes tells me to give up, and I find the strength to keep working towards deep change to the oppressive, racist, misogynist academic systems of power as they stand. Books like this will help them fall.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Deborah C. Radbill on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The cover of the book, Presumed Incompetent, is a representation of the contents. It shows not a white face but a face of many colors, looking you straight in the eyes, confronting you. So much has been written about the "Glass Ceiling" but what has not been addressed is the additional ceiling that women of color in academia face, "The Color Ceiling". The many women who share their experiences break your heart as well as make you angry about the racism they endure.
What is most distressing are the women, usually not as educated or talented, who pander to the oppressive white men to gain favors rather than join in a supportive sisterhood of other women, all women.
Although all essays share a different yet similar experience, in" Igualadas", page 287, the author particularly impassioned me with her courage and ability to rise above the insults. It is a rubric that should serve as a model, women do not have to perpetuate the injustices done to them.
Congratulations to the editors who compiled these essays, that opened all eyes to the past practices of universities and colleges who should set a standard for equality.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Empowered on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered my copy through Amazon and waited for it with much anticipation. I am in the process of reading it and it is amazing! It speaks to experiences that many of us live in our daily lives, whether in academia or in other patriarchal, racist/sexist systems. I thank the women who shared and collaborated to provide context for what women face in academia. This book will need a second and third edition, and a follow-up book. Unfortunately, the problems that these women describe in the book are still prevalent in society today. But this book is at least doing something about it - raising issues, continuing a long overdue discussion, and providing comfort for individuals who are struggling with similar issues. THANK YOU TO THE EDITORS AND AUTHORS!!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Karen on October 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
When I was a graduate student I had an inside joke with another grad student about "the unwritable dissertation." It would be a study of the process of going to graduate school. The reason it was unwritable of course, was because it would be written by a person with less power in the institution, and have to be approved by the very people who held power over the writer. This book is the unwritable dissertation. Finally a group of incredibly brave academics have stood up and said, "Hey, let's use the intellect we have spent so much time developing to look at our our workplace!" And they go on to do so without hesitation.

I wish I had been able to be as honest about these issues during graduate school with my faculty as the writers are here. This book is a wake up call not only for what it says about how we treat women of color in the academy. Presumed Incompetent shows how the academy is itself built upon a structure of elitism and hierarchy. From our racism, sexism and classism to the way we devalue undergraduates, exploit graduate students and adjuncts, and continue to valorize the R-1 institution, American Higher Education does more to reproduce social inequality than to address it every day.

If I have one critique of the book, it is that in some essays the goal seems to be more focused on the question of how do we make our elite club more inclusive, rather than how do we take the elitism out of our club. For instance, a couple of authors complain that they are expected to be "the nannies" of the students, to do the devalued emotion work of teaching, while their whiter or more male counterparts get to to the intellectual work.
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