Becca – From 2004-2012 I was assistant director of a women’s and gender studies program. Starting in 2009, when I became involved in a new LGBTQ institute, my supervisor became increasingly hostile, until in May 2011 I received a warning. In January 2012 I was fired for purportedly not fulfilling the demands outlined in the warning, despite the May 2012 deadline being five months away and despite the part-time medical leave I was granted in fall 2011.
Sharon Leder met with me in fall 2010 at the NWSA convention. At that point my self-esteem was shredded, and I was lost at sea. She showed me how discriminatory my treatment was, and urged me to work with F.A.A.D. and fight for my job. This gave me the confidence and determination to continue my struggle. After being fired I filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Human Rights claiming discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and disability. Unfortunately, the DHR determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim. I chose not to appeal the decision because it was too difficult to prove covert discrimination and the stress adversely affected my health. I collected unemployment for a year and unsuccessfully searched for work, then took early retirement in spring 2014. The financial blow is heavy, but now I am healthy and happy.
The intrepid women of F.A.A.D. counseled and encouraged me throughout the ordeal. The group also gave me financial support to help defray legal expenses. In return, I have presented twice on F.A.A.D. panels at NWSA and now provide counseling and moral support to other F.A.A.D. clients. Without this organization I would have been devastated by this experience. With its skillful guidance and helpful feminist analysis, I remain confident that my claim was justified and that fighting back was important. I lost my job, but regained my life.
Namita Goswami – After I was denied tenure, I filed a lawsuit claiming that I was a victim of discrimination and retaliation, and that my contract had been breached. The case has been pending for well over one year. Through the generous and timely support of FAAD, my attorneys and I have been able to gather and present a substantial amount of evidence which supports my claims, and I remain confident that based upon that evidence, the claims made in the lawsuit will be upheld by the court.
Universities will commonly require “gag rules” when they settle with plaintiffs, so some of the courageous women we’ve helped are not free to disclose their names.
A FAAD Recipient – The Feminists Against Academic Discrimination network is an invaluable ally in standing firm in the face of overt, covert, and insidious discrimination against women in the academy. My own struggle with being bullied by senior colleagues and the administration’s blatantly unfair termination of my position when I raised my concerns left me bewildered. I worried that I’d brought these events upon myself and didn’t know what recourse, if any, I had for defending my rights and salvaging my career. The generosity and wisdom that FAAD members shared came from their own experiences and showed me just how much discrimination itself breeds a sense of self-doubt and is insidious in the way it oppresses. They confirm how disturbingly pervasive such harassment is in the academy and established how my employer’s treatment of me was not just unfair but illegal. Through their counsel, I was able to address what is now my former institution from a place of empowerment and self-assurance that allowed me to redress so much of the wrong that took place. More importantly, their solidarity was vital in helping me heal the damage of internalized oppression and develop the resilience that has allowed me to move forward in my life and career. Injustice and its consequences are painfully real, by joining together we can stand up against it and press for what is just and ethical. I look forward to joining FAAD in the hopes that I too will be able to support fellow colleagues in the same way these brilliant women support me and so many others. Thank you FAAD.
Graciela Chichilnisky’s site - this site provides information about her professional, academic activities.
2008 UPDATE on Graciela Chichilnisky’s Case
Settled: The suit brought by Graciela Chichilnisky, professor of statistics at Columbia University and UNESCO Professor of Math and Economics, against the university for pay inequity, retaliation (against her complaint about pay inequity), and breach of settlement agreement in violation of New York state laws. Dr. Chichilnisky reached a settlement with Columbia University after a June 26, 2008 trial. She remains tenured and will continue teaching and doing research.
- Tenure Denied - AAUW cases of sex discrimination in academia (2004).
- AAUW Denial of Tenure and Promotion - Legal Fund (LF) cases
- Developing and Implementing Work-Family Policies for Faculty - Academe Nov/Dec 2004.
- Allison Kimmich “Hiring and Promotion Practices Continue to Leave Women Behind” in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March, 2013
- NWSA, Women’s Studies Scholarship: A Statement by the National Women’s Studies Association Field Leadership Working Group, which includes a chapter “Administrators’ Guide to Tenure and Promotion Reviews in Women’s and Gender Studies” (2013)
- Batya Weinbaum “Memoirs of an Academic Career” Femspec
- NWSA National Women’s Studies Association is an organization dedicated to 1) the advancement of study and knowledge about and related to women, 2) the creation, growth, and maintenance of women’s studies programs and degrees, and 3) freedom from exploitative and oppressive ideologies and structures. F.A.A.D. holds its annual business meeting at the site of the NWSA annual conference and presents panels that are relevant to the employment concerns of feminist faculty.
- AAUW American Association of University Women promotes equity for all women and girls, lifelong education, and positive societal change. (See Legal Advocacy Fund.)
- AAUP American Association of University Professors defines and advances academic freedom, shared governance, professional values, and standards for higher education.
- NOW National Association for Women is a site containing information on women’s issues for women activists.