Reading Guide: February 2021 Meeting

Reading questions for "Presumed Incompetent II," edited by Yolanda Flores Niemann, Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, and Carmen G. González

Presumed Incompetent II book coverQuestions by Silviana Amethyst and Stephanie Rytilahti

Section 1: Tenure and Promotion

This section is composed of seven chapters.

  • How does service work hinder the advancement of women of color faculty in PWI’s (defined in this volume as a “structural racial tax and emotional labor”)?
  • What tactics and strategies emerge in these chapters for interrupting institutional practices of racism, classism, homophobia, and sexism?
  • How does the discussion of rhetoric surrounding diversity work (without accountability) mirror discussions advanced by Ahmed and other authors we’ve discussed?
  • This volume diverges from the first edition by delving more deeply into the emotional toll of obtaining tenure for Women of Color. How can institutions more fully center discussions surrounding mental health within meaningful equity practices?
  • This section ends on an upbeat note—underscoring how tenured faculty of color can use their social capital to promote institutional, systemic, and cultural change from within. What are some best practices for supporting the professional growth and development of faculty post-tenure?
  • Pregnancy and caregiving arise as serious topics of consideration for promotion and tenure. How can institutions reimagine how to support caregivers in long-term, sustainable ways?

Section 2: Academic Leadership

This section is composed of four chapters.

  • Upper-level leadership positions are still rarely occupied by Women of Color and this directly relates to obstacles in obtaining tenure and full-faculty rank. How do the authors in this section challenge institutional practices for leadership advancement which account for service and mentoring in new ways?
  • Without diversity in campus leadership, equity will remain elusive on college campuses. How do these authors deploy an intersectional lens to underscore how gender, age, class, and other factors magnify the challenges for Women of Color in upper-level positions?
  • Describe the inherent conflict between enacting institutional change and padding an institution’s diversity marketing initiatives? What creative solutions emerged in these chapters for evading this double bind?
  • The inherent whiteness and cultural racism built into academic culture emerge as constant obstacles throughout this section (and others).  How do Women of Color in senior leadership challenge “hegemonic politeness” to disrupt existing power structures and cultural practices on college campuses?

Section 3: Social Class

This section is composed of four chapters.

  • How have you experienced or perpetuated classism at your institution?
  • What are you actively doing to reduce the presence of classism?
  • How have clothing and dress codes, explicit or implicit, played a role in your institutional life?
  • What are some ways you can de-center higher education as being the sole path to success?
  • Do you know what the rights of pregnant students and employees at your institution?
  • How do you hide your background at your institution? What are some behaviours you engage in which might cause others to hide theirs?
  • Criticize the statement “working class identity is a site from which to escape”. (p. 166)

Section 4: Bullying, White Fragility, and Microaggressions

This section is composed of eight chapters.

  • Describe “death by academia”, particularly as discussed in Chapter 16.
  • Reflect critically on the assertive women, particularly Women of Color, at your institution. How are they treated?  Compare and contrast.
  • Pages 183-190 describe “The Sinister Seven”. Which have you most recently encountered?  Which have you most recently been?
  • Leadership requires dealing with all sorts of people, and intersectional feminist leadership encompasses the radical inclusion of the most marginalized. How does the chapter Through a White Woman’s Tears inform your leadership at your institution?
  • Criticize the statement “But we’re all women, right?” (p. 238)
  • What does authority mean?  Apply an intersectional lens.

Section 5: Activism, Resistance, and Public Engagement

This section is composed of nine chapters, and the afterword.

  • Visibility can be a double-edged blade. What role does visibility play in activism?
  • Read and take the advice on pages 267-268. Which one or two strike you as most helpful or insightful at this time?
  • Online engagement is a prominent part of modern activism. How have online communities influenced your leadership?  What role do you want them to play?
  • Tear down the myth of meritocracy.
  • How do you, or do you not, address race in your role at your institution? What would you like to change?
  • What does it mean for *you* to support a Woman of Color colleague or coworker? What does structural support mean, particularly at your institution?
  • How have you experienced or committed academic hazing? Reflect on the two enumerated lists on p. 318-319.
  • Debunk the idea that college campuses have liberal bias. What does it mean to be an academic terrorist?  How have you experienced or used “victimhood” as a silencing tactic?
  • What does it mean to be “unconquered and unconquerable”?