Mohindar Singh Seehra Lecture SeriesThe Mohindar Singh Seehra Endowment was created to benefit the Women’s and Gender Studies in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and provides funds to host a guest speaker to explore topics related to the challenges involved in combining and balancing a professional career with a family life for the modern woman in the workplace.
2023 Lecturer announced
“Lessons from the Tech Industry on Gender, Racialization, and Work/Family Conflict”
Monday, April 10 at 2:00 pm
Greenbrier Room, Mountainlair
In this presentation Dr. Alegria will discuss emerging challenges to equity and inclusion in tech work, particularly as they emerge through gendered and racialized family care commitments. Applying an intersectional lens to understand how gender and race together shape women’s career paths in tech work, Alegria finds that white women, but not women of color, are promoted into mid-level management positions that do not provide pathways to executive leadership positions. These promotions are paradoxically a step down in terms of status relative to engineering work. At the same time, the tech industry is the most extensive employer of temporary immigrant workers on H-1B visas, and most of these workers are men from Indian. The terms of H-1B visas ensure these workers have very little opportunity to make the kinds of job moves that would increase their ability to balance work and family demands. They are successful as masculine breadwinners, but, in a field that seems to value progressive, involved fatherhood they appear to hold to very traditional gender norms due to their working conditions, regardless of how involved they might like to be in providing care for their children. Dr. Alegria will discuss the challenges and conflicts these issues present for workers and for equity and inclusion policies, and in turn, their consequences for emerging technologies and the tech industry
Leading an “Integrated” Life: Relational and Reflective Communication Practices
In this presentation, Dr. Kirby will discuss how communicative practices can help (or hurt) work-life “balance”. She will discuss the communicative implications of how relationships—whether in the workplace, in the “homespace” or beyond—can be supportive and encourage work-life integration or non-supportive and create situations of overwork and stress. She will also discuss findings on “intrapersonal” communication and the utility of self-talk practices for finding balance, especially related to reflection and discernment. For both areas, academic findings will be combined with practical tips for leading a more integrated life.
Karen Cardozo is assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), where she coordinates Women’s Studies and Leadership Studies programs. A s a scholar, she has published on diverse topics in ethnic, gender, literary, trauma and feminist science studies as well as on pedagogy and the academic profession. With a record of exemplary teaching at six institutions (the Five College Consortium of Western MA and MCLA), her inve n tive new courses include Leading Women (integrates intersectional women's studies and leadership studies), World of Work (introduces life design as a response to the rapidly changing work landscape) and East Meets West (suggests how practicing mindfulness can disrupt the “mindlessness” of Orientalism to enable more genuine cross-cultural engagements).
A former dean at Mount Holyoke and career counselor at Harvard University and Williams College, she analyzes present configurations to hypothesize about the future of work, so that individuals and institutions can make ethical and informed decisions. Her relevant articles in this vein include “Academic Labor: Who Cares?” in Critical Sociology (2016) and “Contemplating Contingency: Toward a Posttenure Politics” in Modern Language Studies (2012) . The founder of Leap Here Consulting (specializing in PhD career coaching and higher education reform), Cardozo has served hundreds of clients across disciplines and sectors as an alt/out-ac coach, including in affiliation with The Professor Is In. She is writing a forthcoming book for that audience: "Careering Toward Authenticity: A Guide For Academics Who Need to Get a Life." She lives in Amherst, Mass. with her family and, in her own balancing act, performs regularly as a singer-songwriter in the indie rock band, Show of Cards.
Public TalkBehaving Badly, Balancing Gladly: Women, Work and Life in the Wild New World
Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m.
Rhododendron Room, Mountainlair
In this presentation, Karen Cardozo revisited the perennial question of whether women can “have it all,” through recent feminist scholarship and the burgeoning literature on the changing world of work. Looking at the rise of entrepreneurship, design thinking, and interdisciplinarity, as well as the renewed threats and activism of the Trump era, she explained why this “wild new world” Beck) is the ideal time to reclaim authenticity and engage in genuine life design rather than lifeless strategic planning. In this rapidly changing landscape, it isn’t the capacity to plan but the ability to “pivot” that determines success and resilience. The dawn of a more fluid Conceptual Age is particularly good news for “scanners”, polymath types often dismissed as dilettantes in eras of hyper-specialization: today, such multifaceted and integrative thinkers are essential to disrupting the ubiquitous “silo effect” that fragments contemporary knowledge and experience. Reminding us that “well behaved women seldom make history," Cardozo suggested that we quit pursuing the elusive outcome of work-life balance and instead practice balancing authentically and gladly (which may or may not involve behaving badly).