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Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia Paperback – May 1, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Toth . . . is the first and foremost agony aunt of American feminist academics. . . . Her very funny and pithy book deals with graduate school, the job hunt, the conference scene, the first year on the job, the 'perils and pleasures' of teaching, 'slouching towards tenure,' and 'muddles and puzzles,' including what to wear to an interview, which discipline has the sexiest men, collegiality, sexual harassment, networking, social faux pas, and why bozos get tenure. A staunch feminist, Ms Mentor knows how to smile and deliver a witty retort instead of a lecture on sexism. Undazzled by the trappings of academic success, she regularly reminds her correspondents that they can find happy and successful careers elsewhere. But she has also come to terms with the realities of working in a profession. . . . Ms Mentor is a more liberating and energizing voice than the subdued, self-questioning wisdom of the autobiographical."—Elaine Showalter, Times Literary Supplement



"Never has there been such a forthright collection of wisdom and wit."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch



"Everyone who's ever been in academe knows that it's a jungle out there, not a grove; Toth's book is a machete sharp enough to hack a path through the undergrowth."—New Orleans Times-Picayune



"No aspect of the scholastic woman's life lies outside the scope of this crusty doyenne."—Publishers Weekly



"A genuine contribution to understanding how the professions of academe function (or don't) and how to negotiate successfully a career path in research and teaching."—Annette Kolodny, University of Arizona

From the Back Cover

In question-and-answer form, Ms. Mentor advises academic women about issues they daren't discuss openly, such as: How does one really clamber onto the tenure track when the job market is so nasty, brutish, and small? Is there such a thing as the perfectly marketable dissertation topic? How does a meek young woman become a tiger of an authority figure in the classroomand get stupendous teaching evaluations? How does one cope with sexual harassment, grandiosity, and bizarre behavior from entrenched colleagues? Ms. Mentor's readers will find answers to the secret queries they were afraid to ask anyone else. They'll discover what it really takes to get tenure; what to wear to academic occasions; when to snicker, when to hide, what to eat, and when to sue. They'll find out how to get firmly planted in the rich red earth of tenure. Ms. Mentor's wisdom grows out of many a real-life experience: she guarantees that some readers will squirm. She lavishly dispenses witty advice, and valuable information, while despising psychobabble, postcomprehensible jargon, and pontification by anyone other than herself. She also insists that sisterhood is, and must be, powerful. Readers of Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia are in for an unusual treat.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812215664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812215663
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,396,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Acacia C. Parks on April 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am gearing up to start in a Ph.D. program in the Fall, so I picked up this book hoping for some of the "practical stuff nobody wants you to know about" regarding grad school, publishing, and conferences. The thing about this book, though, is that the title is misleading. It's "advice for women in academia", but most of the advice (with a few exceptions) has nothing to do with being a woman. It's useful advice (usually) for important problems, but mostly stuff I had heard from many other sources, not really "issues that women daren't discuss openly", as advertised. People mostly ask questions like "Should I publish before looking for a job?" and "People say cover letters should have a 'WOW' factor to attract attention. How do I do that?". Standard fare questions about academia.
For example... out of 16 questions in the chapters on job searching, grad school, and conferences, I found three that had anything to do with being a woman. The three questions were (paraphrased): 1) "What should I wear to work/class/conferences?" 2) "The director of grad studies puts the course catalogue on his lap during course scheduling meetings, which makes it so students have to stare at his crotch. I don't WANT to stare at his crotch. What can I do about it?" and 3) "I am genetically obese, I have tried every get-thin-strategy including surgery, diets, insane exercise, etc. but nothing works. I am used to unpleasant comments from people who don't understand about weight setpoints and genetic predispositions to obesity, but I am worried about my academic career. My graduate advisor recently told me that if I can't suck it up and lose weight that I might as well drop out of grad school because it will be wasted on me. Is she right?
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Format: Paperback
I was an proto-academic in another life (back when the world was young and there wasn't an oversupply of would-be professors with graduate degrees in the humanities), and I wish I'd had this book when I was attempting to make my way as a very junior faculty member. Because, even though Emily Toth gives special attention to the problems of women in combating the many variant forms of sexism (from mere idiocy to outright harassment), much of what she has to say regarding survival is just as valuable to the guys. Following the third-person style of Miss Manners in a column she originally began writing for the MLA periodical Concerns, she starts with advice for graduate students preparing for the job interview, goes on to the first year as a newly-hired Ph.D., the "perils and pleasures" of actually teaching, the pursuit of tenure (practicality reigns here, as distasteful as that might be in the ivory tower), what to do once you've achieved it, and so on -- right up to the emeritus years. She begins each discussion with actual letters from readers but often goes far afield in prescribing advice. The mordant humor and twinkling cynicism make the medicine go down a treat.
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Format: Paperback
As someone who has experienced some of the worst viciousness academe has to offer and gone on to flourish in spite of it, I say to all budding professors: read this book! KNOW this book! I bought it when I went back on the job market a couple of years ago. This is the practical stuff nobody wants you to know when you send them your $50 and original transcripts hoping to get into X program at Prestigious U. Grad School- because lesser souls would run screaming. THIS time around, I'm tenure-track at one and a half times the salary I earned before. Take what Emily Toth says to heart- I've been there, done that, can give the dime tour, and she's RIGHT.
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By A Customer on September 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a beginning grad student who has been away from academia for several years, I found this book not only a kick to read but full of refreshingly straightforward information. I plan to follow Ms. Mentor's advice to the letter. But this isn't just a guidebook for academia. Any woman (or man!) who wants succeed -- and survive -- as a professional should read this book.
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Reading this book makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am in my current position as a tenured faculty member of a very progressive small liberal arts college. In recalling the many "incidents" from my previous institutions, however, I'm impressed that so many of us get out of graduate school alive and go into teaching positions. Nearly every section of the book rang true for me, and I have recommended it to all the young women with whom I work. Only a lucky few of us work in an oasis of enlightenment...I can't wait for the sequel!
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Anyone contemplating purchasing this book (or reading some of the other reviews) should know precisely what it is about and for whom it was conceived. Ms. Mentor's column is a regular feature in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is a state-of-the-field publication for academics, staff, and administrators of all varieties of colleges and universities. It contains news, events, essays, articles, and advice for those whose careers are or will be in academia.

While some of the advice columns certainly do contain sarcasm or humor, Ms. Mentor's articles are by no means geared exclusively towards amusement, nor are they exclusively woman-oriented (in fact, most of the time they are not). Rather, in the guise of advising on particular problems, they analyze snapshots of the intellectual, social, and emotional experiences of academic life. As a very new academic myself, I find many of Ms. Mentor's columns to be witty, insightful, and even occasionally comforting. The ideal readership for this book, however, probably consists of those who are, for whatever personal or professional reasons, interested in the minutiae of the internal workings of higher education.
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