Academia, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, life, Professional Development, Research, scholarship, Self-care, Teaching

In honor of International Women’s Day: “Undisclosed stories of instructional design female scholars in academia”

It is International Women’s Day and I would like to re-share a journal article that I co-authored with other Instructional Design Female Scholars: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277539518302231

In addition to sharing a link to the article, I am also sharing a short excerpt from the discussion section of the manuscript (which complies with the copyrights set by the publisher). If you would like to get a copy of the full article, I will gladly share it via email.

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Significance of this Research

Why are these issues that we present through our stories of significance to the ID field? Because we teach, practice, and research this field. We aim to present our field as a process-based, relational, inclusive, equitable, and transformative community.  Yet, instructional design practices, research, and teaching are heavily influenced by the male dominance that permeates higher education institutions. We attempt with this paper to raise awareness, seek understanding, and open the doors for discussion of women’s issues in higher education and the instructional design field.  In the past, “feminist approaches to design have problematized a range of taken-for-granted assumptions (Campbell, 2014, pg. 233).” These assumptions continue to marginalize and oppress through our practice. It is a trickle down effect: if some voices being part of the IDT community are ignored, oppressed, and marginalized , how can we expect the outcome of our design, research and teaching experiences to be inclusive, equitable, and transformative? In the global economy, we talk about reaching out to diverse groups of learners. If those diverse groups can be represented in the decision making mechanisms, then, it might be easier to develop empathic relationship with the diversity, we strive to address.

As an attempt to challenge the hegemony of patriarchy in academia, this paper explores gender-related challenges and issues female scholars experience in their lives. The male dominance in academia and socio-cultural roles assigned to females create conflicting roles. As female academics are assigned with a range of social, cultural, and professional responsibilities in a male-dominant context, it is essential that they are provided with support (Misra, Crist, & Burant, 2003). Changing this mental frame is not easy since it is legitimized and encouraged by power dynamics. As a socially-accepted and culturally-valued role, females are supposed to take care of domestic responsibilities first. The role of parenthood and marriage once combined with the gendered and biased institutionalized norms conflicts with the role of a scholar (Acker, 1992). As a potential strategy to solve this problem, it is essential to recognize gender as a social construct that is shaped by the patriarchy to designate social and cultural roles to women as a tool for suppression and marginalization (Acker, 1992); thereby, allowing us to perpetuate these inequalities that we have been trying to overcome (Valian, 1998).

To make matter worse, the lack of collaboration among the female academics aggravates the practical impacts of these anomalies. Women’s issues are an important part of the female academic identities that are embodied and situated in a social and cultural discourse dictated by the dominant socio-political forces through the gender, power, and context sensitive knowledge creation process (Nightingale, 2003). It is vital for female academics to have an open forum in which they can share their experiences and insights on women’s issues, and triangulate the silences and incompatibilities across the settings. It is important to raise skepticism concerning the neutrality of the knowledge creation through the practice of normal science, and uncover the silenced and empowered voices by the hegemonic forces situated in a social context (Vaivio & Sirén, 2010).

 

Academia, Education, Higher Education, Job, Teaching

Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies #academicmamas

Had my yearly Pap Smear today and it served as a reminder of post that has been in draft folder for too long [it is also Spring Break so I get to catch up on a few things that I normally tend to put of for later]. Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies.

We often think that pregnancy is this magical time in a women’s life in which they can eat whatever they want, glow, and crochet something for their bundle of joy. Well, at least, that is what I thought pregnancy was until I experienced it.

The reality is that for me pregnancy was the worry of knowing how my baby was developing, heartburn, and sleepless nights. But I was fine with that because “it is all just part of the process.” It was until I was 22 weeks pregnant that things got “complicated.”

During a routine visit to the doctor (the first week of classes of that term) the ultrasound technician noticed that I was experiencing an “incompetent cervix.” Everything went from calm to faces of worry and the doctor rushing into the ultrasound room. I was asked to go the emergency room in the hospital and told that they were extremely worry that I would deliver early.

I was so confused by everything that was happening but without thinking about it, my husband and I drove to the hospital and expressed what the gynecologist had just explained. I was immediately checked into the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor in the emergency room explained what an “incompetent cervix” meant. Basically means that I have a “weak” cervix tissue.” What followed was just a mess:

  1. Taught class for one week that semester [Fall 2015]
  2. Then rushed back to the emergency room (and FMLA for the remainder of the term)
  3. Was told by the doctor to consider having an abortion (early delivery would mean having a baby that would not survive or would have severe brain damage)
  4.  Was told by another doctor to consider having a cerclage procedure done to prologue the pregnancy as long as possible (although he clarified the success rate for a 50/50 chance)
  5. Decided to do the cerclage and wait to see what happened.
  6. Orders of bed rest until delivery date
  7. Three long months of at home bed rest

Why did I continued my complicated pregnancy? Because I honestly could not terminate my pregnancy after watching my healthy baby boy in an ultrasound.

What is was like to do three months of bed rest? For me, it was torture. I honestly channel my energy into doing things that I enjoyed (writing, reading, researching, or anything I could do from bed/couch).

This is is really a summarized version of everything that happened. All the emotions that I experienced during those months, would be really difficult to capture in a post. I was very private about all of this, when it happened, because if things did not work out in a positive way, I did not want to mourn my loss publicly. It would have been too difficult. However, I did have many reach out to me privately and I would share what I was going through (I guess my lack of FB and Twitter post was noticed). I had many friends and family check in with me regularly (almost daily). Thank You. I also a had a dear friend that lives in the area have lunch with weekly through the three months of bed rest (thank you JoAnne Scott).

I am not writing this post because I want a pity party. I am writing and sharing it with you because pregnancies don’t always go as planned, which is even more reason to have have adequate institutional policies for pregnant women and partners. I would have never predicted my health issue (not even in my wildest dreams). Since this happened to me I’ve known at least two other women who had similar experiences, including another faculty member at my institution.

I also want to add that my story had a complicated but happy ending but not all stories end the same way. I want to share with the emotional story written by Ilde Torres Walter in her blog (it is a journey of love): http://www.journeytoliam.com/2017/01/09/hello-world/  [you should make time to read her five blog posts].

Academia, AECT, Conference, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Job, Professional Development, Research, scholarship, Seminar, Teaching, Travel, Writing

Instructional Design Research Women’s Caucus #AECT17

Please consider joining us during this Research and Theory Division panel session at the AECT 2017 International Convention:

Women Caucus
Lead Discussant:
Enilda Romero-Hall
University of Tampa

Discussants:
Zeni Colorado-Reza
Emporia State University

Ginger Watson
University of Virginia

Camille Dickson-Deane
University of Melbourne

Ayesha Sadaf
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tugce Aldemir
Pennsylvania State University

See you in Jacksonville. Hope you can join us!

Academia, Higher Education

Motherhood

Baby D is now one year old, which means that I have been a mom for the last twelve months (well now really it is more like thirteen months. I am a bit late writing this post). What can I say about motherhood? What can I say about been a working mom? I am going to try my best to share some of my thoughts and experiences. Beware: This will get personal. 

 Motherhood is beautiful. I love looking into the eyes of my son every day. I love hugging him. There is something amazing about watching him experience new things. Little things that we (adults) take for granted are huge victories in his everyday life (learning how to chew, trying new food, crawling, playing with water, interacting with the dog). Of course, there is work that comes with it and it can be very challenging at times; specially if you do not live close to family. The first few months were about figuring out a good routine that would work for him (a routine for eating, sleeping, and play during the day and at night). It has taken us about a year to figure that routine out (through trial and error). However, now that we have figured it out life is good. 

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As a woman, I feel like it has also taken a year to feel like myself again mentally and physically. Getting back into a workout routine and yoga helped me. Of course, it also helps to understand my limits and knowing when I need to take a “chill pill” and go for a walk. It is tempting as a new mom to “want to do it everything.” The reality is that you cannot do everything and you should ask for help.   

One of the most challenging parts of motherhood during the first year, for me, was pumping. I wanted to breastfeed Baby D at least for the first six months because he was born premature (at 32 weeks). Since I had to go back to work 6 weeks after giving birth, I pumped when I was at work (in between meetings, before class, and after class). Although pumping sounds “easy,” it was very emotionally draining for me. It is hard to explain how it made me feel but what I can say is that I am glad the pumping days are over. 

Many have described me as a natural mother or very “Zen” when I am with baby D. I laugh and think it is funny because until I became a mom I had very little experience with babies. Something else that I find interesting (and I had heard other mothers mentioned this before) is that I no longer have time “to sweat the little things.” Literally, I just do not have time for it because I try to make the best use of the time I have available (when I am at work and in my personal life).   

To any female in academia who is a new mom and is preparing to start a new semester soon, I wish you luck. Just like all babies are different, all motherhood experiences are different. If you need help, ask for it. For new moms in academia, there are support groups via social media that are public (twitter hashtag: #AcademicMamas) and others that are private/super private (Facebook groups for junior academic mamas and academic mamas). I have found this private and secret groups tremendously helpful and super supportive. It is a large network of academic mamas that share their struggles and frustrations, as well as their triumphs and successes. We ask each other questions and try to answer using our own experiences.

Well there it is, my posts on motherhood. I am sure I will remember many things as soon as I hit “publish.” However, for now this is what I can share with you. Happy New Year!