[INDOLOGY] Sexism and Bias on INDOLOGY governing committee

farkhondeh iran iran_farkhondeh at yahoo.fr
Mon Apr 8 12:31:32 UTC 2019

Dear colleagues,

I would like to thank Isabelle Ratié and Dominik Wujastyk for their last emails which had, inter alia, the merit of enabling us to grasp some of the facts (it is a bit difficult to think in the void). I think we all agree that gender equality is far from achieved. It seems that we disagree on the best way to achieve it. I fully agree with Isabelle when she writes: « Adding a female member to the committee would have the pleasant advantage of satisfying everybody's sense of symmetry, and it is probably the best way to quickly end this controversy; I remain in doubt, however, as to whether this would constitute in any way a significant progress in the struggle against gender bias and sexism. Let us keep our eyes on the frontlines. » 

As far as I’m concerned, I find that the quota policy is problematic. As a woman, I would not want to be interviewed for a job, shortlisted, hired or integrated into a committee for the mere reason that a woman was needed for the sake of symmetry: I would like to be selected as a scholar for my abilities and because people value my work. I think the best way to achieve equal rights is to see each other as colleagues and individuals without falling in the trap of essentializing the other. Fortunately human beings disagree and that’s healthy that they do. I would not want a male colleague to prevent himself from giving his opinion on my work because I’m a woman. Gender bias exists for sure but, if we don’t see ourselves simply as members of the « weaker sex », then we should be glad to be criticized and to be able to answer and defend our position when it is defensible. 
Kind regards,

Iris Iran Farkhondeh
Docteur en Études Indiennes
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3
Mondes iranien et indien
00 33
iran_farkhondeh at yahoo.fr <mailto:iran_farkhondeh at yahoo.fr>

> Le 7 avr. 2019 à 19:07, Dominik Wujastyk via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> a écrit :
> I am writing this email in my own voice, not as an INDOLOGY committee statement. The committee has been reluctant to get into "you said, I said" arguments, for good reasons including the fact that some points of disagreement are hard to talk about without revealing confidential information.
> Yesterday, Prof. Truschke posted a message ("I disagree that dealing ...", appended below) that referenced a committee post that I sent last week and made remarks about my opinon on bias training.  So that INDOLOGY members may see the context, here is the full text of the post that I sent to the committee last week.  I have redacted the names of the scholars we were discussing (XXXX and YYYY are both women with appointments at Indian universities).
> Subject: Re: suggestions for new committee members
> From: Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com <mailto:wujastyk at gmail.com>>
> Cc: indology-owner <indology-owner at list.indology.info <mailto:indology-owner at list.indology.info>>
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> Dear committee colleagues,
> I'm very busy and short of time (crazy last week of semester and academic
> year, sick child at home, etc. etc. etc.), but I've been told that Audrey
> has re-raised this issue about expanding the committee and inviting
> specifically women participants to even out the gender balance.  I agree,
> as I've said before.  So, since nobody else has done anything yet, I
> propose that as do as we usually do when we're making committee decisions,
> we have a vote.
> I propose that, following Stefan's suggestion from October last year, the
> most recent I can quickly find, we invite the following two scholars to
> join the INDOLOGY management committee:
>    - Prof. XXXX (at academia.edu <http://academia.edu/>)
>    - Prof. YYYY (ditto)
> Shall we say that votes should be in within a week?  11 April.
> Criteria: this committee has never formalized criteria, or even really
> discussed them.  Should we?  I would include that candidates should have a
> record of being somewhat dynamic, i.e., answering email reasonably quickly,
> and being willing and able to do the weekly-rota duties and having
> professional experience in such things as student admission committees,
> journal refereeing or other situations that would help with skills and
> sensitivities needed to evaluate incoming short CVs.
> I would also draw attention to Stefan's important observation about
> considering candidates from East Asia.  Suggestions welcome.
> I think Audrey's idea of bias training is a good one; I don't think we can
> formally require this of people, but when we invite new members we can
> mention that we recommend this, and we should point to some online
> resources, for example Harvard's ITA test (which is publicly available).
> (My university uses the Harvard test as part of it's internal bias training
> package; it's a bit clunky, but generally good.)  Perhaps we can have a
> committee vote on this issue separately if we want to.
> Best,
> Dominik
> INDOLOGY committee member
> On Sat, 6 Apr 2019 at 15:39, Audrey Truschke via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>> wrote:
> Dear Colleagues and Friends,
> I disagree that dealing with multiple cases of sexist treatment during the last year - and being required to keep mute by those who, in my view, treated me with bias - is not a serious matter (for those who have asked, please see my earlier notes giving a list of situations and behaviors, beyond a single case). I disagree even more that attention to such matters distracts from the larger fight for gender equality. Demanding equal treatment is not a zero-sum game.
> In the meantime, behind the scenes, it has become clear that the INDOLOGY governing committee is not a safe place for me. I have been told in the past week that we cannot require bias training (that's bollocks - of course we can). There remains no grievance procedure or talk of instituting one. The committee is discussing adding another woman, but probably only one because a male committee member has expressed discomfort at the thought that women might outnumber men on the committee. To quote this man: "Gender parity applies both ways, however. With the current active lineup, we only need to add *one* female member to give us parity...nothing further needs to be done."
> For me, I choose to no longer contribute to a power structure here on INDOLOGY that I think is too ugly to overlook, and so I am leaving the committee and the list. In the end, this conversation has become about far more than me, and I hope that others continue that larger discussion.
> All the Best,
> Audrey
> Audrey Truschke
> Assistant Professor
> Department of History
> Rutgers University-Newark
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