By Marcia Bosscher

Women in Academia: Finding Life in the University

Women in Academia: Finding Life in the University: A Panel Discussion at Urbana 15 was hosted and moderated by Karen Guzmán, National Director of InterVarsity’s Women in the Academy & Professions, with panelists Rachel Douchant, Kelly Seaton, and MaryKate Morse.


















Rachel Douchant is associate professor of philosophy, co-chair of the Honors College, and director of the Liberty & Ethics Center at Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO.


Kelly Seaton was a graduate student at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, did a post doc at Duke, now is a research project manager at Duke in an HIV vaccine immunology lab.


MaryKate Morse is professor of leadership and spiritual formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of Making Room for Leadership.





In her introduction to the panel, Karen Guzmán, InterVarsity’s National Director of Women in the Academy & Professions, refers to articles about gender, calling, challenge, and courage in her introduction.

  • I Didn’t Want To Lean Out: Why I Left, How I Left, and What It Would Have Taken to Keep Me in STEM by Francis Hocutt Feb. 24, 2014 Organic Chemist who left her PhD program.
  • The Confidence Gap. Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men — and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here's why, and what to do about it. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, Atlantic Monthly cover story, May 2014
  • A Mother’s Ambitions. Women like me who back down but not out of work. Written by Yael Chatav Schonbrun date published NYT, July 30, 2014
    “There are hundreds of stay-at-home-mom blogs written about the trials and tribulations of being home with the kids, and numerous books about moms’ making it big in the workplace while having a family. But I don’t see much from women like me, who back down but not out of work.”
  • Women and Men Both Ask for Flex Time at Work. Guess Who Gets It? by Nanette Fondas, Slate, August 12, 2013. Based on a study published in Journal of Social Issues describing how dads get more love when seeking flextime.
  • Quote from Shauna Nyquist: “Everyone benefits when women tap into the passions and use the gifts that God has given them. The church benefits, families benefit, marriages benefit, businesses and non-profits benefit. Everyone wins when women discover and live out of the gifts and passions God gave them.”


Questions to the panel

  1. How did you discern your call? Have you had pushback to your experience of a call because you were a woman? Have you seen changes in your call over time?
  2. What are your internal challenges as you think about being a woman in your field—imposter syndrome, other internal things you’ve had to battle that seem to be more of an issue for women than men?
  3. Have you experienced loneliness in male-dominated classes or work (from a math student)?
  4. How do you navigate doubt? How do you know whether you should be in a PhD program or not?
  5. From a student recently married who is beginning her PhD program, “How do I respond to people who are trying to dictate the timing of my academic life or my child-bearing plans?”
  6. What are these differences that women bring? How do we think differently and how do we articulate that in a male-normed culture?
  7. I have tended to split my personal life from my academic life. How do I integrate these areas?



About the Author

Marcia Bosscher is the former editor of The Well and now an associate with InterVarsity's Faculty Ministry. Having been married to a professor and sharing life with grad students and faculty in a campus church, she has a deep interest and care for those in the academy. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with a golden-retriever mix and a diverse array of lodgers and travelers.

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