Faculty Mentoring 

Faculty mentoring is consistently noted as a key area of transformation (for individuals and institutions) and is widely accepted as critical to professional success. Formal mentoring programs are often organized the around the goal of facilitating individual career success and a common model has been to pair senior and junior faculty and assume the senior scholar has all of the answers and can guide the junior partner to success. More recent research indicates that other models might be more useful. Faculty mentoring programs must identify the needs of a diverse faculty, prioritize those needs, and then create the means to alleviate those needs.

While faculty mentoring programs (rightly) focus on supporting individual faculty, the significant under-representation of women and members of other historically marginalized groups in higher education is not primarily a problem personal choice or individual discrimination (though this is certainly prevalent), but a consequence of gendered (raced and classed) institutions and cultures. As a sociologist, I am interested in how innovative faculty mentoring programs might also might contribute to institutional change in higher education. How can we transform the institution by developing structures that help individual faculty thrive and thus literally change the ways our institutions look and encourage cultures that not only welcome, but expect diverse people?

This scholarly work combines an assessment of mentoring models and promising practices from around the world with in-depth interviews and focus groups with faculty. These conversations reveal many common needs that cross a wide range of boundaries (both individual and institutional), while exposing experiences and challenges that are more prevalent among those who are members of marginalized social groups.

Dr. Laube pays particular attention to the needs and challenges of faculty at institutions where they are expected to carry a relatively heavy teaching load while maintaining an active research agenda. She is committed to expanding programs and support for post-tenure faculty, as well as considering the sometimes unique needs of lecturers (part-time and contingent faculty).

Learn about Mosaic: UM-Flint's Faculty Mentoring Program


MORE ABOUT DR. LAUBE'S
TEACHING & SCHOLARLY WORK:

TEACHING

“THE FIRST PROBLEM FOR ALL OF US,
MEN AND WOMEN, IS NOT TO LEARN,
BUT TO UNLEARN.”
- GLORIA STEINEM

 

 

Dr. Laube teaches courses like Gender & Society, Sociology of Families, and Introduction to Sociology. She also enjoys teaching Social Movements and various courses that examine structural inequalities and contemporary social issues.


Women's & Gender Studies

DR. HEATHER LAUBE is the DIRECTOR of 
WOMEN'S & GENDER STUDIES (WGS)

WGS offers a NEW 15-credit Certificate Program and the WGS Minor.
Visit umflint.edu/WGS for more information.


2015 Fulbright Scholar - Graz, Austria

UM-Flint Professor of Sociology Heather Laube’s American Studies Award entailed a four-month fellowship for teaching at the University of Graz in Austria in 2015. She taught courses on Gender & Society and Women in Higher Education.

Read the UM-Flint news article.


Gender & Society

GENDER & SOCIETY (SOC/WGS 474/574)

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
- Gloria Steinem

When asked to describe yourself how do you respond?  Chances are one of the first things you will say is “I am a woman” or “I am a man.”  Your response conjures up a variety of physical characteristics, personality traits, and behavior patterns in the mind of the inquisitor.  With no information other than your self-proclaimed status as a woman or a man, people make immediate assumptions about you.  What does it mean to be a woman or a man in our society?  What factors influence how we become who we are?  What about the social structure supports and maintains notions of femininity and masculinity and the choices available to women and men? What if you don’t identify as a woman or a man?

This course examines the sex-gender system as it exists in the United States today.  Social institutions such as education, the family, the media, work, and others designate gender differentiated traits, behaviors, and patterns of interactions for all people.  We will explore who is privileged and who is disadvantaged in this sex/gender system and how the system is maintained.

Feminist scholars have shown that gender is not simply a matter of biology, the “natural,” or the functional, but that it is socially constructed and is deeply shaped by (and in turn helps shape) cross-cutting lines of difference and inequality---of social class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and age (among others).  We will pay close attention to how the experience of gender is shaped by these social positions.

SCHOLARSHIP

Feminist Academics 

The structure of disciplines, departments, and institutions provide both potential and limitations on feminist practice within and outside the university that have individual and collective impact.  Ideally, the relatively independent nature of academic work provides professors and researchers with the flexibility to participate in activist work.  In reality, however, the professional demands placed on academics often leave little time for political participation separate from work, and the emphasis on the pure science ideal and writing for an audience of one’s peers influences the shape of their political participation.  Feminist scholars have the potential to create knowledge resulting in new understandings of social life and a broader range of meaningful identities for individuals. Choices regarding the form of their feminist practice impact academics both personally and professionally, but their choices also have broader consequences. I explore how traditional definitions of scholarship and professional success shape feminist practice in research and how feminist academics find ways to remain true to their feminist ideals while also attending to the reality of their professional lives. how the professors I interviewed view the relationship between their feminism and their status as sociologists, as well as their feelings on the degree to which the two are compatible and why they choose to stay in a profession that has the potential to conflict with their feminist ideals.  Finally, I conclude with a discussion of the impact of the feminist practice of academics both inside and outside the academy and the necessity of appreciating the many ways feminists’ practice can be disruptive.


Resistance and Disruption: Women at the University of Michigan-Flint 1956-1966 

Using in-depth narrative interview data, this paper focuses on the experiences of seventeen, mostly working class, women who graduated from the Flint College during its first decade. The opening of the university made college possible for these women, but pursuing a degree and career disrupted expectations and they confronted a double-bind. How could they at once be women, college students, wives, and mothers? In the working class context of Flint, Michigan, and in the post-War years before the political and social change of the 1960s, these women encountered resistance, yet persevered.


International Gender Scholars, Gender Equity Projects, and Work on Borders 

This project attempts to further an understanding of the experiences of women and feminists who do gender equity work in academia and highlights the borders and boundaries they confront as they navigate their positions and identities. The research focuses how gendered institutional structures shape the experiences and practice of women and feminists attempting to influence change in academia. It explores how their presence and voice has the potential to disrupt the commonly held assumptions and expectations of the institution, but that presence is not sufficient for significant change. The data for this project are interviews with international scholars (mostly around Europe) working on gender equity projects. These interviews have revealed patterns that lead to the identification of three positionalities: the supportive outsider within academia, the feminist outsider, and the feminist-outsider within.

This study examines why feminist scholars choose this work, how the opportunities and constraints embedded in the gendered (and raced and classed) structures of institutions shape their careers and knowledge production, and how they engage in political resistance that subtlety and not-so-subtly challenges the gendered cultures and norms (including assumptions of science) of these institutions and of society.

Forthcoming publication based on this work (March, 2017):
“Präsenz, Disruption, Transformation: Feministinnen als Insider und Outsider im vergeschlechtlichten System der Wissenschaft,” (Presence, Disruption, and Transformation: Feminists as Insiders and Outsiders in the Gendered Academy) in Dahmen, Jennifer/Thaler, Anita (eds.): Soziale Geschlechtergerechtigkeit in Wissenschaft und Forschung (Social Gender Justice in Science and Research). Opladen, Verlag Barbara Budrich. 

TALKS

Recent Keynotes and Scholarly Presentations

“Resistance and Replication: Feminists as Insiders and Outsiders in the Knowledge Economy.” Keynote Address at STS Conference Graz 2016, Critical Issues in Science, Technology, and Society Studies. Graz, Austria. June 9, 2016.

“Seeing What We Believe or Believing What We See? Questioning and Constructing Gender Identities.” Keynote address at Graz International Summer School: Shifting Perspectives: Europe and the Americas. Seggau, Austria. July 7, 2015.

“Resistance and Replication: Feminists as Insiders and Outsiders in the Knowledge Economy.” Presentated at the Third International Sociological Association Forum on Sociology in Vienna, Austria. July 10-14, 2016.

Mentoring for Institutional Transformation: Recommendations from a Comparative Analysis.” Presentated at the Third International Sociological Association Forum on Sociology in Vienna, Austria. July 10-14, 2016.

“Working Toward Gender Equity in U.S. Universities: A Focus on Policies and Practices.” Keynote address at GenderTime – Transferring Implementing Monitoring Equality, Project Meeting. Graz, Austria. June 18, 2015.

“Making Connections and Making Change: Women's Networking and Mentoring to Transform Society.” Fulbright Women’s Roundtable, Amerika Haus (U.S Embassy in Vienna, Austria). March 24.


Resistance and Replication: Feminists as Insiders and Outsiders in the Knowledge Economy

Keynote at the 15th Annual STS Conference Graz, Austria. 9-10 May, 2016. Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies

Title: Resistance and Replication: Feminists as Insiders and Outsiders in the Knowledge Economy

PUBLICATIONS

Laube, Heather. Forthcoming 2017. “Präsenz, Disruption, Transformation: Feministinnen als Insider und Outsider im vergeschlechtlichten System der Wissenschaft,” (Presence, Disruption, and Transformation: Feminists as Insiders and Outsiders in the Gendered Academy) in Dahmen, Jennifer/Thaler, Anita (eds.): Soziale Geschlechtergerechtigkeit in Wissenschaft und Forschung (Social Gender Justice in Science and Research). Opladen, Verlag Barbara Budrich.

Laube, Heather. 2010. “’It’s Part of My Being’: Demand-Making and Discursive Protest by Feminist Sociologists Inside Academia.” Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. 30:3-41. Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Bingley, UK.

Sprague, Joey and Heather Laube. 2009. “Institutional Barriers to Doing Public Sociology: Experiences of Feminists in the Academy.” The American Sociologist 40(4):249-271