Men leaning out can make space for all of us to ‘care, mother and bake’ in our professional lives

by Sarah Bekessy

I couldn’t agree more with E.J. Milner-Gulland –Nicola Denzey Lewis’s list of how to be a successful female academic (“don’t care, don’t mother, don’t bake”) – sounds like a list of how to eliminate all things fun and worthwhile in your professional life.

Likewise the whole ‘lean in’ approach makes me a bit queasy… Must we really become aggressive and self-promoting to succeed in life?

I too have been insanely lucky in my career and break all of Nicola Denzey Lewis’s rules. Maybe I do ‘lean-in’ a bit more than the average person, but I certainly care far too much about teaching (honestly… who couldn’t??), I mother all of my students (isn’t that just nurturing the next generation of academics?) and am actually a pretty awesome baker.

What’s needed is for men to make the effort to lean-out (thanks to Mark Burgman for articulating this idea first!) to make space for women to succeed in whatever style is authentic. Then all academics (female and male) can care, mother and bake to their hearts content.

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