Szczeszak-Brewer Talks on Female Professors' Challenges
• October 7, 2010
Assistant Professor of English Agata Szczeszak-Brewer delivered Thursday’s Chapel Talk, ‘The Elephant in the Room.’ Her talk focused on the challenges of a female professor at an all-male college.
“I am the elephant in the room,” Szczeszak-Brewer told the students, faculty, and staff. “Being a young female professor from Poland is not easy at Wabash.”
The English professor suggested there are some students, not all, who make female professors feel unwelcome. “But let me be clear, I like Wabash,” she assured.
She went on to cite national studies showing the trend is similar across the nation, not just Wabash. She talked about the portraits of former Wabash presidents hanging in the Chapel. “Isn’t it exactly how you imagined your college professor,” she asked. “I’m complicit. It’s exactly how I imagined my college professors – middle-aged, white men wearing wedding rings.”
The research she cited suggested students often judged their professors based on gender. Szczeszak-Brewer referred to cultural portrayals and how they differ when a man or a woman is the college professor. “Women are often cast as the nurturing mother types or as a sex object,” she said.