Sunday, July 26, 2009

A room of one's own

With the start of my new faculty position next month, I will have an office of my own. I am very excited about this. An office! Of my own! With a door that shuts! But I've also been thinking a lot about the message I want my office to project. I'm going to be at a teaching university, so I expect (and I may be wrong about this) to have students in my office on a regular basis. The student body is overwhelmingly socially conservative. The faculty are not as socially conservative as the students on the whole, but as a religious university, the students and faculty are part of the same social system when it comes to reinforcing conservative gender roles. I will be only the second female faculty member in a large department. From my interactions with the other female faculty member, I know that I can expect male and female students alike to challenge the appropriateness of me being a professor as a married female with a young child.

As excited as I am about having an office, I expect to have to tread a fine line when it comes to making that space my own. I want to decorate it in a matter that reflects my somewhat eclectic loves and quirky personality, but that does so in a manner that doesn't undermine my desire to project a professional demeanor. This is just one more facet of my reexamination of the way I present myself professionally. I have been shopping for new clothes (actual skirts and stockings and stuff) because there is no more teaching in jeans and oxford shirts. I'm already battling with impostor syndrome on being hired into this position. I want a comfortable space that makes me feel like myself, but I'm not sure how I am going to do that and still be authoritative enough to defend myself against the challenges I know will come. Sisyphus and Historiann have been compiling lists of school supplies for new graduate students. I wish there was a list of school supplies for a new faculty member.


Bardiac said...

Congrats, and good luck.

File cabinets! (Make yourself a filing system to handle advisees, current classes, old classes, and teaching stuff so that you can teach issue X in one class and also another, if that makes sense)
Flash drive(s)
Business Cards
Office Phone
Office Stapler
Office Computer
Good office chair, visitor chairs

At my university, the university supplies all of these, but it's hit or miss. My office furniture is from the 50s. I have a rotary phone. But the chair is pretty comfortable. If it weren't, I'd buy my own.

You probably already know this, but departmental and college admin assistants know everything, and are worth being friendly with. Bring candy or cookies or whatever. Yeah, it plays into sexist crap, but they're probably women and will understand and not hold it against you.

kenandbelly said...

A room! Of your own! All your own! Yay!

Here's my 2 cents about a room arrangement: if possible, situate your desk so you face the door directly and have your reception chairs on the other side. Decorate the back of the door and the wall with what students/colleagues will see as your more eclectic materials because they'll be readily visible to you and only visible to them as they exit the room, after they've had a fascinating conversation with your authoritative self! :)

EmmaNadine said...

Great ideas. I hadn't even thought about business cards yet. My sister told me I should get a cookie jar for my desk, and I thought she was kidding, but maybe not. And I like the idea about decorating the back of the door. I hadn't even thought about that!

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