Inger Mewburn

Inger Mewburn

I'm an academic

PhD study, universities, higher education policy, gender and higher education, teaching, graduate employability

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Screen shot 2016 08 14 at 8.53.53 am article


...or those of you who have been, I don’t know, actually working this week and not reading the social medias, the famous Nobel Prize winner Professor Tim Hunt got up at the world conference of science journalists and did the verbal equivalent of shooting himself in the foot – or was it the head?

Hunt, who apparently knows he has a reputation for being ‘a bit of a chauvinist’ spoke in favour of single sex labs and told the audience of JOURNALISTS that his trouble with girls was that:

"… three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry."

Apparently his speech was greeted with polite applause, so he initially didn’t think anything was wrong. Clearly he wasn’t on Twitter, where the outrage was in full flight and the mocking had begun. ...

Screen shot 2016 08 14 at 8.44.45 am article

What do academic employers really want? By Inger Mewburn and Rachael Pitt

Your latest fixed-term academic contract is drawing to a close and you’ve started looking for the next role, maybe in a new city. You’ve found a few roles in your field, in locations you could contemplate living in, and sit down to start applying.

In Australia applying for an academic job involves answering a set of key selection criteria that are specified in the position description. A key selection criteria might be something like ‘Demonstrated ability to exercise independence and creativity while being a part of a team’. Your job is to write anywhere from one paragraph to one page to demonstrate how you possess the skills and capabilities implied in the statement...

Screen shot 2016 08 14 at 8.10.46 am article

Architecture websites: Build it, and they won't come | Australian ...

..."Let’s imagine for a moment the firm whose website I was attempting to view designed buildings like it does its website. For one thing I would have a hell of time finding the front door. After feeling my way all over the facade I would eventually squeeze through an unmarked entry, only half my height. Once inside I’d find myself in a maze of unmarked corridors. There would be no reception desk, only endless, Escher-like staircases, twisting into space. Doubtless I’d find it interesting for a time but ultimately it would become exhausting and I would be searching desperately for an exit....

Screen shot 2016 08 14 at 8.13.31 am article

The Addiction

Helen recently completed a PhD and is now in the post-post-post doc stage of the academic wilderness. Helen is not a scientist, so her academic life now consists entirely of three-month sessional contracts and guest lectures (most of which are unpaid). If you have done this for any stretch of time you will know it’s not a great way to make a living. The November to February non-teaching months are particularly hard. Just when everyone else is out shopping, your wallet is empty....

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The Conversation (Australia)

What's up with universities – Whackademia or just grumpy old academics?

When a friend showed me the blurb for Whackademia: an insider’s account of the troubled university, I immediately left the office to buy a copy, solely on the promise in the title. I read it in just two…...

Screen shot 2016 08 14 at 8.06.23 am article
New Scientist

Big Wide World: On the right side of the 'digital divide'

I graduated from architecture school in 1996, when I was 25, poor from six years of university. Architectural practice did not help fill my coffers and it was not as fun as I had imagined. I spent a lot of time reminding myself that I was investing in my future. I did, luckily, possess skills that many others in that office did not. My poor hand drawing skills had led me to computer aided drawing (CAD).

Screen shot 2016 08 14 at 8.21.52 am article

The sessional generation’s nostalgia for the Australian university of the past

...What surprised me most about the day was how emotional it was, especially the reaction to one of the papers, which concerned a faculty torn apart by restructures. The author, with tears in her eyes, expressed her deep disillusionment with the university to whom she, and many others, had given so many years of loyal service. As the academic told her story, the grey heads around the table nodded in sympathy and started sharing similar stories. The grief around the table for academia lost was palpable.

Later, in the tearoom, I discussed the paper, and our older colleague’s reactions to it, with my fellow 40-somethings – all members of the so-called ‘sessional generation’. We didn’t quite know how we should feel about this outpouring of grief. Our older colleagues had memories of an academia we had only ever read about in books: the Australian university in the 50s, 60s and 70s which, so the story goes, well funded and well respected by the government and community alike...

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The Conversation (Australia)

Academics behaving badly? Universities and online reputations

Trying to control your reputation online is a bit like trying to clean up wee in a toddler pool. You are much more likely to get your hands dirty than achieve any kind of meaningful damage control. Many…...

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The Conversation (Australia)

Showing your colours: the good and bad of academics joining political parties

I’ve always thought being an academic is like living in the middle of an endless war where the weapon of choice is words. You could say the same of parliament, so it is perhaps surprising that relatively…...