Much has been said about the misogyny in academia. There has been a surge of awareness regarding the mental health issues faced by men and women alike. If one were to focus on the intersection of these two issues, it is difficult to propose universal solutions. Each problem needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and handled uniquely.
At the university level, a sorority often serves as a meeting point for women. Could this society also help maintain the sanity of women in academia?
A young researcher who took maternity leave was inappropriately questioned by her supervisor if the pregnancy was planned. Women should not be forced to choose between motherhood and research. Another researcher was forced to justify to her supervisor the cause of her mental illness and give a timeline for her recovery. When mental health professionals are at a loss to handle specific cases of mental illness, it’s ridiculous to pose such questions to a sick person. Would one expect the same out of a patient in coma? A third researcher was judged for her dressing sense. In research areas which predominantly constitute men, women tend to mimic the dressing styles of men. Feminine qualities and the physical sciences need not be mutually exclusive. These nameless and faceless women researchers are representatives of the women research community as a whole. Sororities in research institutes could go a long way in safeguarding women’s interests.
In 2018, we are still in the need of women in mathematics/sciences workshops and programmes. It is a pity that one needs to sensitize gender at places for higher education. Sororities can function as problem solving entities at the department level. Research will then be enticing for more women.