I started out life as a journalist, and I’m still more comfortable asking the questions than answering them. Even so, I enjoyed this interview I did with Academic Women for Equality Now, an online home to explore gender issues in US higher education. Thanks to Pascale Lane for inviting me to reflect back upon my former life in the Ivory Tower.
What is your educational background?
My BA is in journalism with an art history minor. I earned my MA and PhD degrees at New York University in Performance Studies–a form of cultural studies. I focused on feminist theory, nonverbal communication, and women in modern dance.
What has been your career path?
It’s been a long and winding road! I started out as a feature writer at a daily newspaper when I graduated from college. After a few years, I enrolled in grad school at New York University and then landed a tenure-track position at The University of Texas at Austin. I spent 17 years on faculty at UT, then quit to open my practice as a coach specializing in personal growth and professional development for women. I brought with me my favorite things about teaching–the intense, focused work with individual students, and the classroom teaching. Happily, I left behind the grading and committee work.
Why did you leave academia?
I yearned for something bigger. I wanted to learn more about myself, to see what more I was capable of. I wanted fresh challenges. I wanted to use my analytical acumen to build lives rather than rip apart arguments.
What do you believe is more difficult for women–academia or business?
Both domains are challenging for women. They’re both embedded in the same overarching patriarchal culture. Power defaults to the men in the room.
Why did you become a coach?
Because I love focusing one-on-one. I love the intensity of deep dialogue, and I love being able to see real-life results. It’s a tangible way that I can change the world, by helping women claim and use their power, one woman at a time. Plus, I really love my clients! That said, I’ve just launched an online career education center for women called WomenAdvance.com. I decided last year that the web is a great way to reach women earlier in their careers, and to offer them guidance on a more convenient, affordable platform. After a lifetime committed to the success and advancement of women, I’m really excited to be expanding my mission into the online world.
What advice do you have for women working in academia?
Never forget why you entered academia, and never stop learning and growing.
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